• Born in Venice on Dec. 11, 1936, has received his senior high school degree at Liceo Scientifico Vittorio Veneto in Milan
  • Physics Degree ("Laurea") at the University of Pavia as a fellow of Collegio Borromeo in 1959
  • "Libero Docente" in Structure of Matter at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" in 1967
  • Married with two daughters
  • Lives in Rome E-mail:


o   Has authored two books of professional character, Semiconduttori: Proprietà e applicazioni elettroniche (Veschi-Masson 1977) e Fisica nella Musica (Zanichelli 1999). He has also written 11 books of popular science: La rivoluzione elettronica (Editori Riuniti, 1981), Perché accade ciò che accade (RCS-BUR 1995), Parola di Galileo (RCS-BUR 1998) [in English: Thus Spoke Galileo (Oxford U Press 2006)], Luce colore visione (RCS-BUR 2000), La fisica sotto il naso (RCS-BUR 2001), Ragione per cui (RCS-BUR 2004), Armonia celeste e dodecafonia (RCS-BUR 2006), Se l’uomo avesse le ali (RCS-BUR 2007 winner of the 2007 Galileo Prize for science popularization), Il Cosmo e il Buondio, RCS-BUR 2009, La Scienza di tutti i giorni, RCS-BUR Speciale Saggi 2010. Has written three fiction books, Bravo Sebastian, the life of J.S. Bach (Sansoni, 1989, reprinted by Bompiani, 2007), Il test di coscienza (Aracne 2013), and Lo scienziato di cartapesta (Dedalo Ed., 2013). Has published a scientific autobiography, La passione di conoscere (BUR-Rizzoli, 2012). Has collaborated with journals and magazines, contributing more than 200 articles related to science. Has retired from teaching activity in 2010.


  • October 30, 2010, date of retirement
  • 1982 to October 30, 2009. Full Professor of General Physics at the University of Rome "La Sapienza". Since 1998, also lecturer in Musical Acoustics. From 2003 to 2007 has given courses in Optics and Optics Laboratory
  • 1978-1982. Full Professor of Solid State Device Electronics al the University of Rome
  • 1976-78. Full Professor of Solid State Physics at University of Modena 
  • 1967-76.Lecturing professor at the University of Rome: courses taught Solid State Physics, Solid State Device Electronics
  • 1967. Libero Docente degree in Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Rome
  • 1962-63.Lecturer of Technical Physics at the University of Messina 
  • 1959-61. Lecturer of Physics Laboratory III at the University of Pavia 


  • 1990-94. Director of the Materials Science Doctorate School at the University of Rome, then member of the Teachers' Council up to today 
  • 1986-1990. Member of the Teachers' Council, Doctorate School in Physics at the University of Rome 
  • Adviser for about 50 thesis dissertations, dealing mainly with experimental semiconductor research, characterization and applications 
  • Professor in International Summer Schools 
  • 1986. Professor of Physics at the Medicine Faculty of the National Somali University 
  • 1984-85. Member of the Commission for the institution of the Information Science Curriculum and Degree at the Univ. of Rome 
  • 1982-85. Vice-president, then President, of the Physics Teaching Council at the University of Rome 
  • 1977. Guest professor, Federal Polytechnic School, Lausanne 
  • Professor at ICTP-Trieste, teaching solid state materials or solar energy courses to developing country students 
  • 1971-72. Professor, CSATA Advanced Physics School in Bari 
  • 1968-71. Professor, Specialization School in Physics at the University of Rome 


  • Has performed experimental research in solid state physics - mainly optical spectroscopy in semiconductors, fundamental properties as well as materials science aspects of interest in optoelectronics. Has worked in the following laboratories : 
  • 1992. University of California, QUEST Laboratory, Director J. Merz 
  • 1984. University of California, L. Berkeley Laboratory, N. Amer's Group 
  • 1977 and 1982. Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Labo. de Physique Appliquée, Director M. Mooser 
  • 1972, 1988. University of Stuttgart - M. H. Pilkuhn's Group 
  • 1967-76 and 1978 to present date. University of Rome 
  • 1965-67, 1968 and 1974-75. Bell Telephone Labs, Murray Hill, Member of Staff, then consultant 
  • Institute CNR-IESS (external collaborator, from foundation for three years) 
  • 1963-65. University of Illinois, Materials Research Laboratory, J. Bardeen's and P. Handler's Group 
  • 1962-63. University of Messina, G. Chiarotti's Group 
  • 1959-62. University of Pavia, G. Chiarotti's Group 
  • Is a member of the following scientific societies: SIF, EPS, MRS, CISCA 
  • Has been or is member of the editorial board of the following journals: Solar Energy Materials, Semiconductor Science and Technology, Infrared Physics, Journal de Physique, Revue de Physique Appliquée, Semiconductors and Insulators. Is a regular referee also of Journal of Applied Physics, Applied Physics Letters, Superlattices and Microstructures, Journal of Noncrystalline Solids, Nuovo Cimento 
  • Is a recipient of the Angelo Della Riccia Prize for Physics, 1969-70 
  • Is in charge since 1980 of the CNR-GNSM research unit "Semiconductors and Optical Properties of Solids" at the Physics Dept. of the Univ. of Rome 
  • Publications. Author of about 150 scientific papers in international journals, of about 100 presentations at conferences, more than 200 articles and pamphlets concerning scientific matters in newspapers and magazines. Has written 16 books, namely 2 university textbooks, 11 popular science and essays and 3 novels. Is coauthor, editor or co-editor of about 10 other volumes of scientific content.


  • 1990-96. Vice-president of the IUPAP Executive Council 
  • 1978-87. Ordinary member of the of the IUPAP-Semiconductor Commission, then Secretary for six years 
  • Chairman of the IUPAP-ICTP Steering Committee for the Trieste international Symposia on the state of art of semiconductor physics and applications sponsored by IUPAP, CNR, IBM-ITALY: 1980 - Amorphous Semiconductors; 1982 - Surfaces and Interfaces; 1984 - High excitation and pulse phenomena; 1986 - Impurity levels; 1988 - Superstructures and microdevices; 1990 - Hydrogen on surfaces and in the bulk; 1992 - Wide-Band-Gap Semiconductors
  • Has lead a research unit in the Project Materials and Devices for Electronics of the National Research Council, aiming at the passivation of defects in III-V superlattices for application in LEDs, lasers and high mobility transistors
  • 1979-87. Has lead the research unit in the Solar Energy special programs sponsored by CNR, ENEA, European Economic Community, producing and optimizing low-cost thin film solar cells 
  • Has been and is regularly a member of Advisory or Program Committees of the main international conferences in Semiconductor, Thin Films, Microstructures and Quantum Devices 
  • In 1976, has organized as a Secretary the 13th ICPS (International IUPAP Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors), and in 1985, as a Chairman, the 11th ICALS (International Conference on Liquid and Amorphous Semiconductors)
  • Has been a member of the Steering Committee for the foundation of the International Center for Science in Trieste, where has cooperated to the formulation of the programs for High Technology and New Materials section
  • Has collaborated, from its start, to the training program of the Trieste International Centre for Theoretical Physics, hosting young scientists from developing countries in his laboratory
  • Has collaborated, in the early Seventies, to the planning and start of the Institute of Solid State Electronics of CNR


  • 1964. First experimental observation of the Franz-Keldysh effect and interpretation (coll. P. Handler)
  • 1964. Development of the electroabsorption technique in semiconductors through use of p-n junctions. Application in light-modulating devices
  • 1965. Study of phonon modes in germanium by modulation spectroscopy (coll. P. Handler) 
  • 1966. Explanation by use of electroreflectance of the Kerr-Pockels effect and of nonlinear optical properties of ferroelectric perovskites in terms of lattice polarization (coll. P. J. Boddy)
  • 1969. Theory of electro-optical effects in nonuniform electric fields (coll. D.E. Aspnes) 
  • 1969. Development of the magneto-electro-reflectance technique (coll. F. Evangelisti and D.E. Aspnes) 
  • 1970. Detection of phonon fine structure near the absorption edge of ferroelectric perovskites (coll. M. Capizzi) 
  • 1972. Observation of exciton-surface interaction effects (coll. F. Evangelisti and J.U. Fischbach) 
  • 1975. Fine structure and mass reversal effect of the exciton in germanium (coll. G.A. Thomas and E.O. Kane) 
  • 1977. Observation of the exciton gas/plasma transitions in compound semiconductors. (coll. Ph. Schmid and J.-L. Staehli) 
  • 1981. Observation of plasma expansion in GaAsP by Fermi pressure (coll. J.-L. Staehli and M. Capizzi) 
  • 1981-1984. Realization of Dual Ion Beam Sputtering, a novel technique for the production of hydrogenated amorphous silicon (coll. F. Evangelisti , P. Fiorini and C. Coluzza) 
  • 1985. Spectroscopy of defect states in hydrogenated amorphous silicon by spectral photoconductivity (PDS) (coll . M. Capizzi, F. Evangelisti , and P. Fiorini) 
  • 1985. Study of the effect of compositional disorder on the absorption edge of alloys based on hydrogenated amorphous silicon (coll. N. Amer, P. Fiorini, and A. Selloni) 
  • 1989. H-passivation of defects, surface and interface states in III-V quantum-well structures (coll. M. Capizzi) 
  • 1993. Recovery of emission efficiency in near-surface quantum wells via surface passivation by hydrogen (coll. Y.-L. Chang and J. L. Merz) 
  • 1994. Above Barrier Exciton Confinement in InGaAs/GaAs Multiple Quantum Well Structures (coll. M. Capizzi and A. Polimeni) 
  • 1995. Self-consistent model for ambipolar tunneling from quantum wells to surface states (coll. C. Presilla and V. Emiliani) 
  • 1997. Study of transition from two-dimensional crystals to quantum dots in InAs (coll. M. Capizzi, A.S. Bhatti) 
  • 1998. Spectroscopical detection of charged excitonic complexes in GaAs/AlGaAs double quantum wells (coll. M. Capizzi and V. M. Timofeev)


  • In recent years has developed an interest in the links between music and science, in particular in the physics of musical instruments and in the study of the neuroscientific correlates of the main parameters that characterize music. He has found an interensting correspondence between the traditional features characterizing classical music - melody, harmony, rithm, meter, and timbre - and the profile of the train of neural firings that go from the basilar membrane to the brains. A proof that choices of the ancient Greeks in terms of harmony - e.g. consonance/dissonance - have a biological justification (at least for naïf, unlearned listeners). A few of his recent articles and one book are devoted to this topic. He has also given considerable attention to the popularization of science, a field where he was awarded the 2007 Galileo Prize and the 2016 Città di Como Price.