Chiara Cappelli’s theoretical chemistry research at the Scuola Normale has been awarded the ERC Consolidator Grant

Pisa, 4 December 2018. The GEMS (General Embedding Models for Spectroscopy) project hosted by the Scuola Normale Superiore has won an ERC 2018 Consolidator Grant to develop theoretical tools for the description of light-matter interaction in complex nanostructured systems. The research, led by Chiara Cappelli, associate professor of Physical Chemistry, has been awarded 1.6 million euros for a period of 5 years.

Amongst the over 2,300 applications received, only 12% have obtained the funds allocated by the European Research Council for ambitious, innovative, high impact and high scientific risk projects. Consolidator Grants, in particular, are reserved for researchers of any age and nationality who have had a research doctorate for at least 7 years and no longer than 12 years, and who in any case have an excellent scientific curriculum vitae.

The team, which includes six young researchers, will try to fill in the large gaps currently present in the field of spectroscopy, providing tools to investigate the interactions between light and matter at the theoretical level with simulations very close to reality: the object of the study will be the realistic simulation of spectra of molecules that interact with metallic nanoparticles, metallic nanoaggregates and graphene sheets. The approach developed can also be extended to other areas, maximizing the possibilities of use by the scientific community.

“The purpose of GEMS”, Professor Cappelli adds, “is the new development of a theoretical, completely atomistic system to study the particular spectroscopic properties that are observed in the case of molecules in the vicinity of plasmon nanosubstrates, by means of multiscale classic-quantum simulations. The systems we will study range from single metallic nanoparticles, to nanoaggregates dominated by quantum effects, to graphene sheets. In any case, the aim will be the simulation of systems of dimensions equal to those exploited in the application field. This will enable the study of the latter at an unprecedented level of detail, and above all the achievement of an accuracy that will enable a direct comparison with the experiments. ”

“The Scuola Normale confirms once again the excellence of its lecturers in the various fields of basic disciplines”, states the Director of Normale, Vincenzo Barone. “It is particularly significant that chemistry, the latest discipline established at the Faculty of sciences, has already obtained two ERCs and that this second success has been achieved by a young scientist at the height of her career. I am sure that Professor Cappelli’s research will prove to be a harbinger of many other personal satisfactions and that it will contribute significantly to the influence and prestige of the Scuola Normale”.