A brief overview of the DSFTA research activities follows, including:
(i) research lines that constitute the continuation and refinement of long-standing projects. We mention just a few examples such as the "Plastic Busters" project in the field of marine pollution by plastic materials; the European H2020 projects "Build in Wood" in the environmental field and "CleanHME"; the "Blue Deal" project for clean energy production; the Calorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) mission on the International Space Station (funded by JAXA, ASI and NASA) and the MAGIC/CTA (funded by INFN) experiment in the field of Astroparticle Physics (Astroparticle Physics), with on-orbit and ground-based instruments, respectively;
(ii) other research activities started recently (e.g.: as a result of DM737, DM1061, DM1062) including the green project "Counteracting Pollinator Decline" for an assessment of the environmental sustainability of pesticides and development of bee-friendly agro-ecological strategies, and the green project "Organic Functionalization of Graphene for Hydrogen Storage Applications" for the development of three-dimensional graphene matrices for the storage and transport of hydrogen;
(iii) recent areas of research under development, including: the study of nanostructures and new materials for energy storage and transport; the development of ultra-high spatial and temporal resolution radiation sensors; laser photoionization; optical magnetometry; and the study of the problem of nano-plastics in marine or polar environments; the identification of new methodologies aimed at assessing the presence and effects of microplastics on both edible and endangered species; the aging of nanopolymers; and the development of Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs), with ample potential for intra- and inter-departmental multi-disciplinary interaction.
The multi-disciplinarity of these initiatives is driven by the expertise and know-how of DSFTA researchers and technicians:
- for the physical sciences: aerospace applications with instruments operating on the International Space Station or satellites; the development of innovative sensors with applications in various fields (e.g., in experiments in space and at accelerators, in biomedical and agri-food, in energy storage and transport, in charged and neutral radiation imaging for cultural heritage, and in anthropology); electronics, lasers and quantum optics; high-precision mechanics; "big data" (simulations and data analysis); theoretical studies on quantum computing;
- for the geological sciences: characterization and monitoring of natural hazards (e.g.: seismic, hydrogeological) and anthropogenic hazards; development of digital cartography to identify and enhance knowledge and management of land, geo-resources and artistic-cultural heritage (e.g.: mapping of the territory with drones equipped for hyper-spectral and geo-radar analysis, analysis of SAR data from satellites); the Antarctic research program;
- for the environmental sciences: understanding and parameterising complex natural systems and the influence of climatic factors in ecology and pollutants in ecotoxicology; study of indicators and bio-indicators to assess the sustainability of systems and processes; environmental monitoring studies (with a focus on marine monitoring with research aimed at assessing the impact of marine litter and in particular microplastics on Mediterranean biodiversity and with a particular focus on endangered species such as cetaceans and sea turtles); sustainable management of natural resources and land, carbon-neutrality, food chemistry.
In addition, investigations in the field of Paleoanthropology, Prehistoric Archaeology and Paleo-environment in the framework of numerous international collaborations with publications in highly prestigious international journals (e.g.: Nature) constitute established research themes of the Department.
Of particular importance are the technology and knowledge transfer activities to the production system and to public institutions for the prevention of natural risks and sustainable management of resources. The latter will also be developed through the promotion of academia-industry collaborations, with the creation of joint laboratories and, where possible, the creation of new spin-offs, in order to strengthen a close connection between research and applications in the productive chain and to support innovation.