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Athanassia Athanassiou Write a Message

Senior Researcher Tenured
Tenured Scientist

Research Line

Smart Materials


+39 010 71781 528


Athanassia Athanassiou since January 2011 has an appointment as Senior Researcher, responsible for the Smart Materials Group, in the Nanophysics Department of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genoa. In September 2014 she became Tenured Scientist. 

She has graduated in 1996 in Physics at the University of Ioannina in Greece, submitting a thesis on the “Increase of conductivity in polymeric films after irradiation with UV laser light”. In 1997 she got the Master of Science (MSc) in Laser Photonics and Modern Optics from the University of Manchester, Laser Photonics Group, Manchester, UK, submitting a thesis on “Determination of Third Order Non Linear Optic Susceptibilities for Thin Films by Third Harmonic Generation”. In 2000 she became Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the University of Salford, Laser Photonics and Non-Linear Optics Group, Manchester, UK, in collaboration with the Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH), Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL), Crete, Greece, after submitting a thesis on the “Physical Effects in the UV-Laser Ablation of Polymeric Materials: Implications for the Laser Cleaning of Easel Paintings”.

Immediately after the completion of her PhD she got a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser (I.E.S.L.), Foundation for Research and Technology–Hellas (FO.R.T.H.) in Heraklion, Crete, Greece, where she became associated researcher from January 2003 till the end of 2005. From September 2003 to September 2005 she also had an appointment at the Technological University of Crete, School of Applied Technology, Department of Applied Informatics & Multimedia, as Academic Staff/Scientific collaborator.

From January 2006 to December 2011 she was a Senior Researcher at NNL-National Nanotechnology Laboratory, CNR-Istituto di Nanoscienze in Lecce, Italy responsible for the Nanocomposite and Responsive Materials Division. In June 2006 and for two years she got a part time appointment at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genova, Italy, as a scientist responsible for the development and initiation of the Optical Spectroscopy-Microscopy and Material Science lab-facility that at the moment is part of the Nanophysics Department. From September 2009 to September 2012 she was also coordinating the Smart Materials Platform at the Center for Biomolecular Nanotechnologies of IIT@UniLe, Lecce.

She has a broad range of experimental experience in fields such as development, processing & characterization of composite nanomaterials, smart materials responsive to external stimuli, laser-matter interactions, steady state/transient spectroscopy, surface science, nanofabrication. In material science her field of expertise is the tailoring of properties such as optical, superficial, electromagnetic, thermal, and mechanical of a variety of materials like polymers, nanocomposites, functional organic molecules, nanocrystal coatings etc. More resent research activities deal with the development of nanocomposite materials based on natural polymers and especially polysaccharides, coming directly from agricultural wastes or other natural sources, that can replace a large number of the existing synthetic polymers or synthetic nanocomposites. Finaly, self-growing materials with a variety of properties based on fungal mycelia is another emerging field of research of her group. She has published about 150 articles in refereed journals, she is the author or co-author several book chapters, she is the inventor of 7 National and 4 International patents and she has several oral and invited contributions to international conferences.

(Last updated December 2014)


External research grants have been established with some of the industry leaders in different sectors, such as fibers, polymers, textiles, paper, etc.  :

1.  AQUAFIL SPA (Registered office and plant: via Linfano, 9, 38062, Arco, Trento)

2.  ONDULIT (Direzione Generale e Sede Legale: 95/E Via Portuense, Roma)    

3.  ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA HOLDITALIA S.p.a. (Sede Legale: Via Roma 99/100, Trivero (BI))

4.  RENO DE MEDICI S.p.A. (Sede Legale: Via Durini 18, Milano)

5.   NOVACART (Garbagnate Monastero (LC))

Selected Publications




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I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.