Institute of science and technology for ceramics (ISTEC)


The Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics (ISTEC) is the only CNR structure in Italy with long term activity programs on the whole range of ceramic materials.
ISTEC is located in Faenza, which, on account of its cultural tradition, has been called the Town of Ceramics. In fact its name, which in French is Faïence, over the centuries has defined a particularly prestigious type of ceramic ware.

ISTEC was founded in 1965 as a Research Group, in 1970 it became a Research Center, in 1975 a Laboratory, in 1980 an Institute, and, since then according to the main research topics at the time it concentrated its activity on conventional ceramics. Stimulated by the growing interest at international level and new demands of the market on advanced ceramics,ISTEC devoted the main part of its activity on these materials. Nowadays, about 70% of the resources are located on advanced ceramics and the rest on traditional ceramics and cultural heritage.

ISTEC has developed relationships with many other cultural institutions, based in Faenza, involved with ceramics: Schools and Institutes at various levels, the International Museum of Ceramics, which has the most extensive collection of ceramics in the world and Ente Ceramica which promotes defends artistic ceramic handicrafts. In 1988 the Agenzia Polo Ceramico, currently Centuria Innovazione Romagna scarl, was founded to provide services for technological innovations as well as cultural and economic enhancement of artistic, industrial and advanced ceramics in Italy.
In 1994, the Research Centre on New Materials of ENEA established in Faenza and, since then, ISTEC has established a fruitful cooperation.
Since 2011 CNR participates in the social structure of a small company: CERTIMAC scarl, that pursues actvities of analyses and characterization of ceramics for construction and building as services to industries.
In addition the recent creation of the Scientific Park "Evangelista Torricelli-Faventia", strongly promoted by ISTEC, encourages the collaboration with the industries and creation of new high tech companies.

Up to 2012 ISTEC belonged to the Production Systems Department (DSP), but it also had activities associated to the Departments of Medicine (DME), Energy and Transport (DET) and Cultural Heritage (DPC).
Since 2012 ISTEC belongs to the Department of Chemical Science and Materials' Technology. The Institute is characterized by its interdisciplinarity which indeed is a cultural fertilizer, which allows to approach the study of ceramics from different points of view.

According to CNR mission, ISTEC is active in several directions:
I) Research and Development, II) Technology Transfer, III)Education, IV) Internationalization

I) Research and Development
The research at ISTEC is mainly devoted to material and process innovation to give an answer to the emerging requirements of industrial, scientific and cultural districts, at national and international level, in the different sectors concerning applications of ceramic materials and devices.
Following its tradition, the Institute can be considered as the merging point where the knowledge about material science meets technology requests and, through the results coming from basic and applied research projects, is translated into industrial relevant realizations.
Thanks to this particular position on the national and international scientific scenario, highlighted since its constitution and strenghthened during the years, ISTEC role became even more topical as research promoter in the different market sectors.
At ISTEC the research represents a fundamental tool in order to increase the essential knowledge to give answer not only to the current market requirements but also to the not already formulated questions which should be stimulated by the research itself.

The objective of research at ISTEC is the design of materials having controlled chemico-physical properties as well as innovative performances, obtained through a careful engineering of structures and a strict control of processes. This can be reached starting from the basic study and characterization of raw materials and mixtures, passing through the process optimization of powders' synthesis, forming and sintering of both dense and porous materials, with a simple or more complex shape, presenting controlled textures and properties.

The main research lines and related developed materials can be grouped in the following macroareas:
High Tech
Materials for building and construction
Energy, Environment, Mechatronics
Cultural Heritage

In the framework of each activity, making provision of technical scientific competences and external requirement - also through the participation to national and international research programs with access to financial resources - specific research programs are developed.

In order to get the scheduled aims, staff makes use of a well organised structure, which comprehends highly specialized laboratories for synthesis, processing, characterization and measurement of products properties and performances.

II) Technology Transfer:
Valuation and dissemination of results obtained by research, transfer of technological know-how, set up of new enterprises.
The last recent example is the grow of a New Company on Biomaterials supported by ISTEC and exploiting the exclusive licence of patent of ISTEC-CNR extended to many Countries in the world. ISTEC supports the laboratories actvities necessary for the achievements of the goals of this new company through research contracts.

III) Education:
Since the Academic Year 2001, in its building, ISTEC hostes the Courses for the Degree in " Materials Chemistry and Ceramics Technology" of the Faculty of Industrial Chemistry of the University of Bologna.

"CNR-ISTEC is partner of the University of Parma (Italy) for the PhD School on Science and Technology of Materials (STM), that started in 2013. The STM PhD School aims to provide to graduates in Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry and Engineering the skills needed to carry out highly qualified scientific and professional research in the field of Materials Science at Universities and public or private agencies. This knowledge may be intended for the study, development and application of innovative materials in a wide range of disciplines."

ISTEC personnel participates in Educational Projects at University level, in post-degree programs, in Professional Education (non-university) initiatives. In this respect, specific courses on themes of interest for industries are organized and carried out, either concerning lectures or experimental tests in Laboratories.

IV) Internationalization.
Since the beginning of the 80's ISTEC has been increasingly active in the scientific international community exchanging ideas, expertise and abilities with research and industrial partners through:
o participation in EU-funded projects
o participation in Ministry-funded projects
o research contracts
o bilateral projects
o research agreements

Nowadays ISTEC is still cooperating with many European partners at EU-funded projects, Cost Actions, bilateral projects and research agreements and has several projects with foreign Countries: USA, Brazil, Argentina, China, Japan, Corea, Turkey, Portugal.

The international visibility of ISTEC also benefites from the membership in Italian Ceramic Society, Italian Society of Reology, European Ceramic Society, International Ceramic Federation, European Society for Biomaterials, European Network of Materials Research Centres (ENMAT), Piezo Institute and from the activities of ISTEC researchers within the European or National Platforms.

The income coming from joint projects with industries, carried out with public support (EU, national and regional) increased in the recent years. In 2012 and 2013 the total amount was about 2.5 MEUR/ year.