November 2022, Year XIV, n. 11
The Imaginative Physicist
Telos: Nanoscience and nanotechnology. What are they? How are they present in our everyday life? In our “biology”?
Elisa Molinari: They regard the behavior of matter -all matter- on a scale of one millionth of a millimeter, or nanometers. This is the same scale found in the best chips in our mobile phones and computers, and of the DNA cross-sectional dimension or small proteins.
This scale is special because it is at this scale that electrons, atoms, molecules and surfaces interact and determine the macroscopic properties of materials, from color to electrical and thermal properties. It is here that unexpected phenomena occur, triggering processes that control both artificial devices and biological functions: from “beneficial” functions like photosynthesis to the emergence of undesirable phenomena like neurodegenerative disorders.
The aim of our research is to understand these processes using quantum physics –which is essential on that scale– to design new materials and phenomena and come up with new technologies. Now we are focusing on phenomena that are important for (opto)electronic chips as well as for solar panels and the batteries of the future ...more
2022 is the year of science for PRIMOPIANOSCALAc. No, it’s the year of physics. After our interview with Italian Nobel Prize winner Giorgio Parisi, it is an honour to have as our guest for the November issue the brilliant, bold, imaginative Prof. Elisa Molinari, who is capable of changing the world with her research. Right off the bat, we asked Molinari to tell us about her area of research: nanotechnology. She explains it clearly and simply. Not only does she tell us what it is about, she tells us what it is for.“The aim of our research is to understand these processes using quantum physics, which is essential on that scale to design new materials and phenomena and come up with new technologies.” The word imagine seems strange coming from the mouth of a scientist, who most people may think always get stuck searching for and, at most, trying to understand and classify phenomena. Not so. Molinari and the scientists in the labs she directs actually design phenomena. The word imagine is reoccurring throughout her interview ...more