Energy and Environment

Chemical physics of materials, interfaces, and surfaces down to single atoms

Most macroscopic properties of matter are triggered by features and processes occurring at the atomic or molecular level. Unveiling the physics and chemistry that take place at these length scales provides fundamental understanding of the elementary processes that govern the synthesis and performance of materials.

This basic knowledge underpins the rational design of a new-generation of materials and devices that can provide new solutions to unprecedented societal and environmental challenges for which clean and efficient energy harvesting, conversion and storage technologies are badly needed.


The IOM mission area “Energy and Environment” focuses on the chemical physics of materials, interfaces, and surfaces that are key in applications for photovoltaics and solar energy harvesting, solar to chemical energy conversion, catalytic and photocatalytic conversion, thermonuclear fusion, heat transport control. Phenomena driven by chemical interactions and physical mechanisms are investigated at the atomic scale by addressing model systems in ideal conditions up to complex systems in realistic environments.

We develop and apply methods for the synthesis and characterization of novel materials, combining numerical simulations for the understanding and prediction of fundamental properties and complementary experimental approaches ranging from high-resolution microscopy for the investigation of structural and morphological features, to advanced spectroscopy for the study of electronic, chemical, dynamical and magnetic properties, performed both with lab-tools and at Large Scale Facilities.

The ultimate goal of this mission area is to extend the knowledge basis needed to design, synthesize and control materials with improved efficiency and stability to enable the development of new concept devices and applications in the fields of renewable energy technologies and energy storage, helping to fight against climate change, pollution and resource depletion.

Energy and Environment
Principal investigators