The PhD thesis was supervised by Esther Barrena, Surfaces and Interfaces (SURFACES) Group at ICMAB-CSIC. The PhD Committee that evaluated the Thesis was formed by Dr. Cristiano Albonetti, National Research Council/University of Bologna, Italy (President); Dr. Raphael Pfattner, Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), Spain (Secretary), and Dr. Berta Gómez-Lor, Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid (ICMM-CSIC), Spain (Vocal).
Francesco Silvestri’s PhD thesis was part of the PhD Programme in Materials Science from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB).
From left to right: Cristiano Albonetti, Raphael Pfattner, Esther Barrena, Francesco Silvestri and Berta Gómez-Lor.
Why did you choose the ICMAB for your PhD?
A friend of mine, after spending some time here, convinced me that Barcelona had the potential to be a great city to live in, in terms of city-life, culture, nature, weather and so on. I found out it was also a very dynamic city from the point of view of science, having several research centers of excellence. At that time there was an open position at ICMAB fitting me perfectly. So I tried, it worked out and I am glad of my choice!
How would you explain your research to a non-scientific audience?
Flexible, light and transparent electronic devices; non-toxic, coloured and cheap solar panels. This is part of the potential offered by organic materials. The basic mechanisms in these materials still need to be fully understood though. This is where I aimed to contribute: in the comprehension of how the organization of such materials at the molecular scale affects properties that are relevant to the final devices.
What are the main applications of your research? Could you give us an example?
I can mention three main applications: OLEDs, that already are in our pockets and houses in the form of screens; organic photovoltaic solar cells, finding their way in the energy market; organic transistors, likely to revolutionize the field of electronics in terms of costs, flexibility and biocompatibility.
From the lessons learnt here, which one do you value the most?
That I should stop from time to time and ask myself what I am aiming for.
What will you miss the most from ICMAB?
The people and the multicultural family environment.
How do you think this experience will contribute to your training and to your future?
In many ways, I hope. Management of time and projects, adaptability, communication, patience and resistance to frustration, among them.
What are your plans once you finish your PhD?
Not really sure… Sleeping? Definitely. And looking for a job, ideally related with materials and sustainability.
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your PhD, that now you can recommend to the ones who are starting?
Zen practices. Joking apart, get an as clear as possible idea of what your research will be about, of what you aim to. You like it? Absorb as much as you can from literature and people around you and go for it! Not convinced? Find a way to adapt it to your taste, it’s fundamental you stay passionate.
Why did you become a scientist? Which have been your role models?
No role models really, I have always been interested in how nature works and aimed to the deepest understanding of things. What is deeper than physics and chemistry? There you go.
Which is your favourite female scientist? And why?
I struggle with the concept of favourite in general. I don’t have any favourite scientist, neither female nor male.
Describe in 3 keywords…
- Your research: organics, morphology, future
- Barcelona: friends, experiences, fun
- Your experience at ICMAB: more friends, enriching, variegated
Any other comments you would like to say:
It’s been a real pleasure to share this time with all of you. From the reception to the laboratories, passing by the administration: thank you, gracias, merci!