Research Areas

Innovate materials and processes, supporting, at national and international level, those scientific, industrial and cultural areas, where ceramic materials and devices find applications and drive the innovation.

Research activities are targetted to design materials with desired properties and improved performance. This is achieved starting from the synthesis/characterization of raw powders and mixtures and passing through optimized processes of forming and sintering both dense and porous materials, with simple or more complex shapes and controlled textures and properties. Coating technologies for surface functionalization and joining of dissimilar materials are of interest as well. Microstructure, mechanical and functional characterizations are associated to the development of processing technologies and evaluation of perspective performances of the developed materials and devices.

Research macro-areas of major interest:

Compositional design and production of ceramic devices with porous as well as more compact textures for energy, optical, electronic, electromechanical applications and sensing, through cost-effective, environmental friendly easy scalable processes.

Research activities at CNR-ISTEC deal with:

  • building and construction materials, mainly clay-based ceramics. Recent innovations focus on the  design and development of light components with reduced thickness and desired aesthetic features.
  • ceramics for technical and structural application: oxides and non-oxides based materials, ceramic-ceramic and metal-ceramics composites for a variety of technical and engineering application. Developments of prototypes for several industrial sectors like mechanics, energy, transportation, aerospace and electronics.
  • ultra-high temperature ceramics (UHTCs, melting point range 3000K-4200K) are extremely interesting for thermal protections and propulsion in aerospace applications and for very high temperature industrial processes.
  • geopolymers are ceramic-based composites which consolidate at low temperature through a cheap polymerization process, that is environmental friendly and low energy consuming. These materials are used as refractory linings and bindings for thermal, acoustic and fireproof insulation.

For the above mentioned classes of materials, the activities start from materials design, selection of raw powders, set-up of processing procedures (forming / sintering / machining), characterization of microstructure, evaluation of mechanical properties up to high temperature, oxidation and corrosion resistance.

Chemico-physical and aesthetical features of surfaces can be modified through the deposition of coatings, glazes or inks, able to provide the materials (ceramics, composites, metals, textiles) of new functionalities and improved performances.

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The request of biomimetic materials for regenerative medicine is strongly increasing due to the raising of the number of pathologies related to life-styles and the progressive ageing of the population.

The sectors of interest are orthopaedics, neurosurgery, maxillo-facial-dental and aesthetic surgery; in consequence of the loss of tissue due to traumas, degenerative pathologies or deformity, all these fields require bioactive and bio-resorbable scaffolds, able to be integrated by the human body, colonized by cells and remodelled so as to re-build the missing part of tissue.

Similarly, for the traditional prosthetic and dental sectors, new nano-structured materials are being developed, characterized by very low friction coefficient and very high resistance to fracture and wear.

Through archaeometric studies, it is possible to deduce the provenance of the raw materials and to define the working technologies of finds. Microstructural, chemical and physical characterisations are basic for this scope.

The archaeometric information together with archaeological and historical ones allow to reconstruct the trade routes and the contexts of uses of the ancient objects. The diagnostic investigations deal with the study of a multiple system, object-environment-interaction areas, focusing on the degradation phenomena and on their diffusion rate.

The analysis of deterioration mechanisms occurring in the ancient artefacts is important in order to plan targeted restoration interventions and correct conservation and maintenance programs.