The activities of the CNR are grouped into seven scientific and technological macro-areas. The Departments are organizational units of the macro areas, with tasks of planning, coordination and supervision tasks. And they are:

  • Earth System Science and Technology for the Environment
  • Science Bio and Agro food Science
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Chemical Science and Technology of Materials
  • Physical Sciences and Technologies of the Matter
  • Engineering - ICT and Technology for Energy and Transport
  • Humanities and Social - Cultural Heritage

ISMN, whose director is Dr. Michele Muccini, is part of the Department of Chemistry and Technology of Materials whose director is prof.ssa Lidia Armelao

Established on September 2000 and operational since 2002, the Institute for the Study of Nanostructured Materials originated from the marging of five research centers with many years of experience in the field of Advanced Materials. The ISMN is one of the one hundred and four institutes of the National Research Council and has achieved important scientific results and has consolidated relashionship with both the  National and International Research community as well as the industrial world.

Former ISMN directors

  • Dr. Sesto Viticoli from 1/1/2002 to 26/04/2006
  • Dr. Giuseppina Padeletti from 27/4/2006 to 31/12/2013

ISMN is present throughout the country with its four locations. The headquarter of the Institute is at the Research area of Montelibretti Roma 1, while the other locations are in Bologna, Palermo and at the University of Rome Sapienza.


ISMN Montelibretti is a multi-disciplinary research center devoted to the synthesis and the nano and micro-chemical, structural and morphological study of advanced materials as organic, inorganic and hybrid nano-structures or thin films with tailored application functionalities. A significant part of the research activities are carried out within international and national funded projects also of direct industrial and societal interest to address a variety of issues concerning electronic, avionic, energy harvesting, nanomedicine, mechanic and security with applications including the development of prototypes. The capacity of ISMN to produce, transfer and use knowledge in also applied to the Cultural Heritage field, in particular, for the identification of degradation agents and mechanisms acting at nano-scale and for the synthesis and validation of tailored and smart innovative solutions for the long-lasting conservation by minimising, via the emerging nano-sciences and nano-technologies, the invasive effects of the protective methods thus ensuring a sustainable fruition and valorisation.


ISMN Sapienza is a multi-disciplinary research center devoted to the development, realisation, characterisation and validation of innovative systems such as bio-chemo-sensors and devices to be used for detecting contaminants, chemical compounds and agents in environmental liquids and food such as bio and chemical species, xenobiotics and agro-zootechnical residuals. This activity is carried out within national funded projects also of direct industrial and societal interest and includes also the development and in-house validation of biosensor-based transferable techniques for the low-cost toxicity quantification in agro-zootechnical foodstuffs. Other activities are finalised to the synthesis and study of nano-structured oxide catalysts to be used for some reactions of great interest such as the catalytic decomposition of nitrogen oxides and the selective hydroxylation of hydrocarbons. Other activities are targeted to the development of advanced sensors to detect anioxidants or molecules disclosing degenerative diseases and to the study of the chemical composition and production process of ancient artefacts. ISMN Sapienza is also involved in teaching activities aimed at promoting a wide diffusion of its competencies throughout the national territory. 


ISMN Bologna is a multidisciplinary research center renowned internationally for the development, manufacturing and characterization of advanced devices based on thin films, organic, inorganic and hybrid nano-structures. During its thirty-year history, ISMN Bologna has established itself as an entity capable of generating knowledge at the state of the art in the field of Science and Technology of Materials and of exploiting research results through the collaboration with the industrial world. Collaborative relationships with industrial partners range from the implementation of commissioned research programs, to research programs carried out jointly with industrial researchers, to true partnerships targeting in the medium term the development of new products originated from the research results. A tool, extensively used over the years to create value from research is to generate autonomous business initiatives through the creation of spin-off, in line with the mission of CNR. In a stimulating and dynamic environment, thanks to the presence of many young researchers, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students from different countries of the world, but organized in order to effectively implement industrially-oriented research and development programs, ISMN Bologna has produced over 670 publications on prestigious international journals (h-index 50), numerous patents and has span out  four high tech companies based on research results.


ISMN Palermo, where researchers with expertise in chemistry, chemical engineering and pharmaceuticals operate, conducts research in the design, synthesis, and characterization of materials in the following strategic areas for innovation: i) Sustainable Chemistry with the study of catalytic processes for the removal of pollutants; ii) Advanced materials for applications in fuel cells and in electronics, covalent and/or supramolecular systems for the selective recognition of metals, gases or chiral systems as enantioselective sensors; iii) Nanomedicine with the development of biocompatible materials as lipid, polymer and oligosaccharide, hybrid organic – inorganic nanosystems for drug delivery, targeting of genetic material and for diagnostics, and development of new therapeutic agents for the treatment of oncological diseases; iv) Cultural Heritage activities are focused on the identification of degradation mechanisms of archaelogical artifacts and on the production of Nanostructured materials for a sustainable  conservation of metallic and stone artifacts; v) Energy from renewable sources including the manufacture of low cost photovoltaic cells, the production of hydrogen from biomass and conversion of biomass into biofuels. ISMN Palermo has also a consolidated experience in the structural, chemical and morphological characterization of materials, using XRD, SAXS, XPS and EXAFS techniques. ISMN Palermo is involved in training and mentoring in accordance with the University of Palermo and Messina and is a partner of the Technological Districts of Sicily, namely Navtec, Bio-Medical, Agrobiopesca, Micro and Nano systems and Cultural Heritage.


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