The “Photonics: Materials, Structures and Diagnostic” Trento IFN UOS of the Institute for Photonics and Nanotechnologies (IFN) belongs to the Department of Physics Sciences and Matter Technologies (DSFTM) of National Research Council (CNR).
The scientific and technological skills, as well as the diagnostic techniques, which constitute an important patrimony of Trento IFN UOS, cover the full range from the study of physical mechanisms crucial for synthesis, development and characterization of innovative photonic materials to architecture and fabrication of devices suitable for application in strategic interest areas such as sensing, information technology, and light sources. The IFN area of expertise includes investigation of local structure, crystallization, energy transfer, optical and spectroscopic properties of rare-earth activated glasses and planar waveguides prepared by several techniques including sol-gel route, rf sputtering, and co-evaporation. The researchers have developed several original diagnostic techniques for the assessment of physical-chemical properties of produced materials. The research activity of the unit is validated by a large number of scientific publications and communications, by active participation in projects of local, national, and international strategic interest. The research activities managed by IFN unit have an important innovative lift because the proposed subjects favor cross-disciplinarily among physics, material science, and technologies crucial for fabrication of materials, structures, and photonic devices as well as for the assessment of their physical and chemical properties. The tackled subjects enhance the growing of technological and scientific competences in area of photonics potentially transferable to innovative commercial deliverables. The social impact of the activity concerns professional training of high-qualified researchers in the area of photonics and in the technological-scientific innovation of synthesis of materials, fabrication and characterization techniques, devices architecture, and understanding of physical mechanisms. A wide network of collaboration is already working, including a large number of local, national, and foreign research centers, as well as technological advanced private and public structures. The synergy with local research centers and university are optimal. The collaborations activated at national and international level reflect the ability of IFN researchers in promoting projects of local, national, and international strategic interest including European projects.
IFN Trento is one of the actors of the “Trentino system for research and high education” and successfully operates in this framework driven by specific agreements and committees:
Three significant activities, i-e. Glass photonics, X-ray photonics, Quantum mechatronics, characterized by a common scientific background, thanks synergistic exploitation of the different competences and transversal technological and scientific interests, contribute to the strategic motivations of the “Photonics: Materials, Structures and Diagnostic” Trento IFN UOS. The main activities concern research, innovation, as well as education through the study of advanced devices, systems and structures for photonics and nanotechnology. The research unit promotes the development and the application, both from the scientific and technological point of view, in several fields such as Photonics, Nanotechnologies and Microfabrication, Microelectronic, Lasers and Incoherent Sources, Synchrotron light and X rays, Quantum mechatronics.
Glass photonics activity is the research mainstream of the CNR-IFN CSMFO (Characterization and Development of Materials for Photonics and Optoelectronics) Lab. headed by M. Ferrari. This scientific and technical activity refers to the strategic areas identified by European Union in the Photonics21 technological platform and the corresponding Technological Italian Platforms devoted to Sources and Photonic Sensors, Nanotechnologies, and Concentrated Solar Energy. Motivation of glass photonics research is related to the historical fact that breakthroughs in technology – and hence new applications that create wealth and improve the quality of life and of the environment – come from blue sky frontier research, and in photonics several examples demonstrate that the time lag from research to the market is relatively small. Research addressing this challenge develops emerging materials such as metamaterials, nanostructured and nanocomposites systems, glass-ceramics, plasmonic based structures, as well as confined geometries. The issues are connected to optics and physics of the materials joint to the accompanying technological development. Examples are photonic crystals, quantum dots of different complexities, such as composite colloidal quantum dots, and different kind of waveguides, integrated optics systems, solar energy conversion photonic structures, microresonators and micro-nano cavities.
X-ray photonics activity, responsible F. Rocca, mainly refers to the development and application of instrumentation and methodologies for X-Ray investigations in Material Physics. The Activities of the Group are centered on the study of structural and dynamical properties from a local point of view on systems having different degree of disorder (glasses, amorphous systems, gels, crystals, dopants, films,…). We develop techniques and methodologies to investigate, at the local level, the origin of applicative properties. The current state of researches at Synchrotron Radiation Facilities promises for the next years the possibility of new structural investigations and spectroscopies with coherent beams having nano dimensions and peculiar temporal structure. These aspects, together with the possibility to have different complementary information on different scales (from interatomic distances, to short and medium range ordering, to large scale aggregations of matter) justify the choice to be present in the field with sufficient critical mass in frontier experiments. The project “STRUMEX” is active since many years within these perspectives. The main aim is to gain an ab initio interpretation of physical and physico-chemical phenomena that determine the useful properties, through an integration of experimental techniques.
Quantum mechatronics activity, responsible P. Falferi, is mostly dedicated to the development of ultra-low noise sensors applied to detectors of gravitational waves. The scope of the activity is the direct detection of gravitational waves, one of the great challenges of contemporary experimental physics, to open up a new window on the Universe, in astrophysics as well as in cosmology and in fundamental physics. The group is involved in a good fraction of the worldwide activities in the field of gravitational waves, being an active partner in AURIGA (INFN resonant detector), LISA (ESA/NASA space interferometer) VIRGO (ground based interferometer) and ET (Einstein Telescope, a third generation cryogenic interferometer) projects. The group has developed a variety of original experimental techniques. These include for instance high sensitivity, almost quantum limited, SQUID amplifiers, to be used as the final stage of ultra sensitive motion detectors in gravitational wave antennas and similar systems. They also include femto-Newton sensitivity torsion-pendulums to test parasitic forces on test-masses to be used as geodetic tracers in space-borne gravitational experiment. These technologies are and will be employed for the development of the mirror control system of ET, the feedback cooling of ultracryogenic mechanical resonators and for testing on ground of LISA sensor performances.
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