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Fabio Di Fonzo

Team Leader

Research Line

Nanomaterials for Energy and Lifescience


CNST@PoliMi Milano

+39 022 3999 868
+39 02 2399 9868
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My research is devoted to the development of key enabling nano-materials for CO2 free and sustainable energy conversion systems. Main fields of application are: photovoltaics, water splitting, Li-ion and flow batteries, fuel cells, III and IV generation nuclear reactors. Basic understanding of the properties of functional nanomaterials is a focus of the research as well as upscaling of nanomanufacturing methods.  The main topics on which I focused in the 2010-2015 period can be grouped in two main activities: hierarchical quasi-1D nanostructured electrodes for PV, electrochemistry and photoelectrochemistry; high density nanocomposite as barrier layers for protection of structural materials in extreme environments (i.e. a nuclear reactor) or as water vapour and oxygen antipermeation (i.e. in organic field effect transistors). For each activity the research was funded with IIT and external funding. 

The main recent result of the activity on nanostructured hybrid materials is the demonstration of a hybrid photocathode for water splitting, competitive with its purely inorganic state of the art counterpart (paper submitted). The main result from the activity on barrier layers is the demonstration of in service improvement of the mechanical properties of a nanocrystalline ceramic coating during ion irradiation. The relevance of this results is testified by the recent admission (June 2015) to the European Energy Research Alliance – Joint Program Nuclear Materials.

The main approach followed is the gas phase self assembly for the growth of materials with controlled properties at the nanoscale. Since 2010 I optimized the Pulsed Laser Deposition technique towards this aim and developed a novel technique named Nanoparticle Jet Deposition. The first, is extremely flexible and capable of working with any kind of inorganic material (metals, complex oxides, carbides, silicides, etc.), provided a solid target is available. In fact, the process exploits a laser to vaporize the target and, by controlling the process parameters, it is possible to preserve or modify the initial stoichiometry. The latter is intended to take this exploratory phase to a more advanced stage close to applications, by developing plasma and aerosol techniques capable of realizing hierarchical nanostructures on large scale, in an economical way. Recently, I am combining this essentially physical, vacuum based, approaches with wet chemical methods, Atomic Layer Deposition, and organic semiconductors, aiming at complementing the unique transport properties and high surface area of the hierarchical quasi-1D nanostructures, developed so far, with the wide range of functionalities possible with conformal organic and inorganic semiconductors overlayers.


2012 - to present

Team Leader at Center for Nano Science and Technology of IIT@PoliMI>

Lab manager of the Plasma Laser Deposition Laboratory and Leader of the Nano2Energy (Nanomaterials and Nanomanufacturing for Energy and Environment) Group. Principal Investigator in Research Lines:

a) Hybrid Nano Materials for electrochemical and photoelectrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage (funding from FP7-FET, MIUR-FESR, ENI, Bluethink-Ferrero, CARIPLO);

b) Barrier Layers for Extreme Environments (funding from ENEA, EUROFUSION, CIRTEN, Siderval, Technoprobe)

2010 - 2012

Senior Post Doc at Center for Nano Science and Technology  of IIT@PoliMI

Lab manager of the Plasma Laser Deposition Laboratory

Research Focus: Nano-Engineered Interfaces for Advanced Energy Devices

2006 - 2009

Post Doctoral Research Scientist at the “Micro and Nano-Structured Materials

Laboratory” (C.E. Bottani’s group), Energy Department, Politecnico di Milano, Italy.

Research Focus: inorganic and hybrid nanostructured materials for energy and environmental applications. Also worked on nano-biomaterials. Main research projects:

“Novel nanostructured oxides and architectures for solar energy harvesting”

“Nano-engineered hybrid metal-polymer materials for Direct Methanol Fuel Cells”


Ph.D. summa cum laude in Radiation Science and Technology, Nuclear Engineering Department,  Politecnico Milano, Italy. 

Thesis title: “Design and optimization of a novel apparatus for Pulsed Laser Deposition of nanostructured materials.” Advisor Prof. C.E. Bottani

Research topic: Basic research on nanostructured metallic and oxide materials synthesized by Pulsed Laser Deposition.


Laurea in Mechanical Engineering, 100/100. Politecnico di Milano.

Thesis Title: “Development of a new metodology and software for the integrated managment of remote monitoring, energy auditing  and optimization of industrial plants”. Advisors: Prof. E. Macchi, Politecnico di Milano and G. Fraschini, Eni S.p.A., Divisione Gas&Power.

2001 - 2002

Internship at ENI S.p.A., Gas&Power Division, Milano, Italy

Topic: applied research on innovative tools for energy optimization in industrial plants.

2000 - 2001

Research assistant at for the “LGM - Laboratorio Getti Molecolari“ (P. Milani’s group), Physics Department, Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy

Research topic: Development of an Aerodynamic Focusing Apparatus for micro-manufacturing and high intensity molecular beams.

1998 - 2000

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Research Assistant at the “High Temperature and Plasma Tecnology Lab” (J.V.R. Heberlein and S.L. Girshick), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA

Thesis Title: “High Definition Cold Spray of Nanocrystalline Material”. Advisors: Joachim Heberlein, Ph.D. and Peter McMurry, Ph.D., Department Head

Research topic: Hypersonic Plasma Particle Deposition and Aerodynamic Focusing of nanoparticles for micro-manufacturing.


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