Giuseppe Nicotra

Giuseppe Nicotra

Mountains PhD in Materials Science
Electron Microscopist @ CNR-IMM
Head of BeyondNano Sub-Ångstrom lab.

Address Zona industriale strada VIII n.5
City Catania State/Region Italy
ZIP Code 95121
Phone +39 095 5968 228 / 238
email giuseppe.nicotra [at]

Google Scholar Giuseppe Nicotra
Giuseppe Nicotra
Research Gate




He began his research studies on January, 2001, at the CNR, with his degree thesis.


During this time, he worked both in the field of electron microscopy and in the study of processes and synthesis of nanostructures for applications in silicon nanostructure based non-volatile memory. This study was conducted in collaboration with STMicroelectronics in Catania.


February 20, 2006 he obtained the title of PhD in materials science with a thesis entitled "Analysis and structural characterization of the system Si nanoclustrers / SiOx", under the scientific supervision of Dr. C. Spinella and Prof. E. Rimini. During the PhD he greatly improved his knowledge both in the process of synthesis of materials and in the field of analysis with transmission electron microscopy and its complementary techniques, such as Energy Filtered TEM, oriented towards the study of much more confined structures for future applications in both microelectronics and photonics. In particular, from the study of sub-stoichiometric Silicon oxide layers, it was for the first time highlighted the effect of the internal stress as an inhibitor to full Silicon phase separation even after high temperature annealing. These results explain many of both optical and electrical behavior of the system SiOx.


Also as part of the research doctorate, from September 2005 to July 2006, he worked as a visitor researcher at the University of California at Davis and the National Center for Electron Microscopy at Berkeley, under the scientific supervision of Prof. Nigel D Browning, where he acquired new knowledge in particular in the field of scanning transmission electron microscopy (S/TEM), specializing on the using of state of the art instrumentation, namely electron microscopes equipped with both monochromator that spherical aberration corrector (Cs corrected). During that experience worked both in the field of material science that biological materials, applying these techniques to the investigation of the maximum achievable resolution in Z-contrast, and how to avoid the electrons induced drift by electron beam on insulating samples as vitrified ice by S/TEM. For this work he received the Presidential Student Award from the Microscopy Society of America.


In July 2006 he conducted research at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (BNL), Brookhaven, NY, (USA), where pushed the characterization of solid state materials at the atomic scale using a high spatial resolution electron transmission microscope.


From December 2006 he worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems (IMM) of CNR headquarters of Catania, applying his research in various fields, such as: the study of materials for photovoltaic applications, particularly aimed at the development of second and third generation solar cells; the study of materials for applications in the field of phase change memories; the study of new bio-molecular devices for applications in the field of non-volatile memories.


He also worked on the study of new processes of synthesis and characterization of substrates Si1-xGex / Ge, i.e, the basic element of future quantum cascade laser, with particular attention to the strain relaxation in SiGe layers with a high Ge concentration. In this area he gained a solid background both on the study of the relaxation of strain in Si / Ge heterostructures and Ge virtual substrates, that defects characterization at the atomic scale at the interfaces and their control.


Recently it began the study of new innovative two-dimensional (2D) materials, such as Graphene, Silicene and Phosphorene, leading to important scientific discoveries followed by scientific publication of these results in high impact factor journals such as ACS Nano.


Since 2012 he is staff researcher at the headquarters of the IMM-CNR of Catania, where from January of the same year he was involved in the PON project named “Materials and processes BEYOND the NANO scale” aimed to the strengthening of CNR infrastructure in southern regions. As part of this project, he worked on both the strategic planning than on the design and construction of the first Sub-A resolution transmission electron microscopy Italian laboratory, which today holds the position of director. Also as part of the same PON he coordinated the entire training course and organized and directed the first Italian school of electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS).


Given the constant changing nature of the materials to be studied, it is necessary a high versatility and mastery of basic experimental physics that Giuseppe Nicotra has proven to be able to have. Thanks to the several scientific collaborations, interacts with many national and foreign public and private research institutions, in addition to those already mentioned, there are: CEA-LETI France, Belgium IMEC, University of Manchester, University of Cambridge; always managing to relate in a fruitful way.



(2006) Presidential Student Award, Microscopy Society of America (MSA)
M&M 2006 conference, Chicago (USA)

Scientific pubblications

Giuseppe Nicotra is author of more than 110 publications in international scientific journals;

His current h-factor is equal to 20, with an overall of more than 1000 citations (source: google scholar);

He is referee on several international scientific journals; and guest editor of the ELSEVIER journal Materials Science in Semiconductor Processing;

Work assignments

  • Researcher at the CNR-IMM Catania headquarters.
  • Director of the Sub-Angstrom lab at Beyond Nano Catania, a national structure of CNR-IMM
  • Director of the scientific advisory board of the Sub-Angstrom lab Beyond Nano Catania
  • Director of the "1st Italian EELS School"
  • Referee and Guest Editor of Elsevier journals “Materials Science in Semiconductor Processing”


Beyond Nano

Selected publications