Activity A: Novel superconducting and functional materials for energy and environment

Activity1The global challenges of climate and energy require new technologies for renewable energy sources, methods of energy storage and efficient energy use. Innovative systems for energy transport, storage and conversion and their development and demonstration through improved materials and technologies represent undoubtedly strategic issues for the scientific policy of the SPIN institute. This project addresses the challenge of providing new, innovative materials required for the transition to a sustainable energy system: materials for harvesting energy from renewable sources, transporting energy, storing energy and converting it into other forms of energy.According to the well-recognized experience of the SPIN scientific community in the cited fields and aiming to intercept such a challenging perspective, the present project will move along a plethora of new improved superconductors and other functional materials.
This project intends to carry on both the synthesis, development and optimization of the materials of interest and their deep characterization. The final aim is the understanding of the basic properties, in order to establish and possibly improve the potential of such materials and shorten the distance between research and applications. This will drive the selection of the material of interest making the project, at the same time, open to the exploration of possible new materials that can appear on the scientific scenario. The study and the realization of prototypal devices and development of systems based on these materials is also addressed in the framework of the project.

Activity Leader: Malagoli Andrea


The development of this project, which includes both material synthesis and physical properties characterization, requires a multidisciplinary research effort, based on contributions from the material science and chemistry as well as from physics communities. Starting from the different aspects of the energy issue, the project can be defined through the following objectives:

Materials for Energy Transport and Storage

  • Development by Powder-In-Tube technique and study of Fe-based and Bi-2212 superconducting wires and tapes for high field applications
  • Development of high temperature superconductor coatings for high field, high frequency applications
  • Thin films deposition of Fe-based superconductors and development of coated conductors with built-in-house metallic textured substrates
  • Development of B precursors useful to improve MgB2 performances also at higher magnetic fields
  • Study of new materials potentially important for superconductivity applications such as, but not exclusively, hydrides- and heavy fermions-based compounds.

The results obtained should lead to a better comprehension of the transport mechanism and the behavior of the grain boundaries. In materials such as HTS or Fe-based superconductors, GBs play a crucial role in making them useful for applications in high-power devices, not only for energy production, storage and distribution but also for high magnetic field generation as requested from the High Energy Physics community. In this context, test activities on HTS (TlBCCO coatings, YBCO tapes and BSCCO wires) composite samples and windings are foreseen to define and give a feedback on the applicative potential of the materials.

Materials for Energy Conversion

  • Development and study of oxide thin films for applications in micro-fuel cells, exploiting both ionic/protonic and ionic/electronic transport. Such a development will be furthermore useful for applications in other fields that could be outside of the energy context but likewise interesting as in non-volatile memories through metal/insulation/metal structures.
  • Development and study of thermoelectric materials, among them particular attention will be paid to Fe2TiSn-based compounds.
  • Realization of oxides and low-cost metallic circuits by Inkjet printing to be employed in solar energy conversion systems

Materials for Energy Harvesting and Environment Protection

  • Realization of microelectromechanical systems with transition metal oxides having enriched properties for energy harvesting and actuators: highly sensitive micro-bolometers with crystalline oxides, moveable microstructures with epitaxial oxides, sensors for gas detection.
  • Study and development of thermoelectric materials


Activity A - img2The research on such a broad range of materials can count on laboratories equipped with likewise wide typology of instrumentation, which goes from rolling and drawing machines for cold deformation to thin film deposition systems passing through specific labs for bulks and powders preparation. Such a wide materials and systems development will motivate a broad and advanced thermal and electrical characterization as well as an accurate validation and evaluation of the obtained results. In order to better pursue the aim of the project, the basic properties analysis will focus, in particular for the superconducting materials, on the study of the electromagnetic granulometry, vortex dynamics and pinning mechanism through experimental investigation of magnetization in bulks and thin films both in AC and DC regime. Such analysis will be correlated to the transport properties, measured both in normal and in superconducting state.
Further characterization of the structural, magnetic and superconductive properties and their tangled and delicate interplay will be carried on by means of advanced analytical techniques as neutron and synchrotron radiation diffraction and muon spin spectroscopy. Study of the morphologic, electronic and superconducting properties will be performed also through AFM-STM microscopy on thin films and bulks.
Thin films of materials of interest will be also grown by Pulsed Laser Deposition system directly connected to different analysis systems like photo-emission spectroscopy beamline APE at Elettra synchrotron radiation facility or STM/STS system in Genoa. Besides the analysis described above, Scanning Tunneling Microscopy STM-based ballistic injection across metal/semiconductor junctions (both oxide and conventional metals/semiconductors) and heterostructures (metal-oxide-metal, metal/oxide/semiconductors) will be used in order to map, with nanoscale resolution, the Schottky barriers and the energy level alignments.
Through such overall analysis, the possible upcoming potential of all these materials and systems will be better established, not only in connection with energy production systems but also in the likewise important energy-harvesting field. It is important to underline that these analyses will not be limited to the samples produced within SPIN, but they will be open also to specimens and materials coming from external collaborations or projects.

Main collaborations

  • CERN, Geneva, Switzerland (S. Calatrone, A. Ballarino)
  • ENEA, Frascati, Italy (A. Della Corte, G. Celentano)
  • Atominstitute, Technische Universität Wien, Austria (M. Eisterer)
  • Columbus Superconductors SpA, Genova, Italy (G. Grasso)
  • ASG SpA, Genova, Italy (R. Marabotto)
  • RSE SpA, Milano, Italy (L. Martini)
  • DEI-Università di Bologna, Italy (A. Morandi)
  • Institute of Superconductivity, Bar-Ilan University,  Tel Aviv, Israel (Y. Yeshurun)
  • Department of Applied Science and Technology, Politecnico di Torino and INFN-Torino, Italy (L. Gozzelino)
  • INFN-Legnaro, Italy (V. Palmieri)
  • Institut Jean Lamour, équipe 205, Université Henri  Poincaré Nancy I, Nancy (France)  (C. Hérold, S. Cahen, E- Emery, J.F. Marêché, P. Lagrange)
  • Laboratorium für Festkörperphysik, ETH-Hönggerberg, Zürich, Switzerland (Toni Shiroka)
  • Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen, Switzerland (R. Khasanov)
  • Niels Bohr Institute, University of  Copenhagen, Denmark (A. Andersen, M. Gastiasoro)
  • Engineering Physics Laboratory, Material Sciences  Faculty, Ibn Khaldoun University, Tiaret, Algeria (R. Baghdad)
  • FHPV Prešov University, Prešov (M.Reiffers, I. Curlik)
  • IFW Dresden, Institute for Solid State Research, Dresden, Germany (S. Wurmehl)
  • ISIS Pulsed Neutron and Muon Source, STFC Rutherford  Appleton Laboratory (P. K. Biswas)
  • Bulgarian Academy of Science - “Georgy Nadjakov” Institute of  Solid State Physics,
  • Institute of Theoretical Physics and  Physical Department, Kharkov National University, Ukraina ( Valerij Shklovskij)
  • Applied Superconductivity of the Department of Quantum  Matter Physics (DQMP) at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland
  • CNR-IMM (Stefano Brivio, Sabina Spiga)
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratories (Douglas Bell) 
  • Physics Department University of Basel (Ernst Meyer) 
  • Physics Department University of Warwick (Geetha Balakrishnan)
  • International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA)
  • CNR-IOM-Democritos 
  • National Simulation Centre (Massimo Capone) 
  • National Institute for Materials Science, Tsukuba, Ibaraki - Japan  (Yoshihiko Takano; Hiroyuki Okazaki)


  • UE Horizon 2020 - MSCA – ETN
    • Title: European Advanced Superconductivity Innovation and Training
    • Coordinator: CERN;
    • SPIN leader: Emilio Bellingeri
  • UE EURATOM Horizon 2020 EUROFUSION Enabling Research projects
    • Title: Alternative HTS wires
    • Coordinator: University of Wien
    • SPIN leader: Andrea Malagoli
  • MISE - POA 2013 National Projects
    • Title: DRYSMES4GRID
    • Coordinator: SPIN Genova
    • SPIN leader: Maurizio Vignolo
  • MAECI (Italy -Japan)
    • Title: Attuatori allo Stato Solido per Micro/Nanorobotica
    • Coordinator: SPIN Genova
    • SPIN leader: Luca Pellegrino
  • Research Agreement with CERN
    • Title: Future Circular Collider (FCC) Study: Beam screen
    • Coordinator: CERN
    • SPIN leader: Emilio Bellingeri
  • Research Agreement with CERN
    • Title: Future Circular Collider (FCC) Study: Superconductivity for high field
    • Coordinator: CERN
    • SPIN leader: Marina Putti