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Applied physics and complex systems

The research activities is focused in various areas characterized by a strong interdisciplinarity: Biology and Medicine, Environmental Science, Cultural Heritage, Accelerator Physics and Complex Systems. The main experimental techniques range from electrophysiology to microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and X-ray. Various mathematical models (deterministic, stochastic network theory) are used to characterize biomedical, environmental, social and financial phenomena. The groups inside the sector are involved in several research projects both at National (PRIN, private funding) and European level (H2020) on issues of high social impact (genomics of cancer and aging, environmental impact of climate change and human activity, archaeometry, X-ray dosimetry and development of new detectors, development of algorithms for automated diagnosis). The research is performed in cooperation with private companies (research & development, consulting), research centers and international universities (Brown University, Cambridge University, CNRS Marseille, ETH Zurich), National Institutes (CNR, INBB, INFN).

RESEARCH ACTIVITY

 

Magnetic Resonance for fluids in Porous Media (MRPM)

Participants

P. Fantazzini (Assoc. Prof.), C. Testa (Assist. Prof.), L. Brizi (Post Doc.), Marco Barbieri (PhD Student) (Members of Centro Enrico Fermi)

Scientific activity

New methods are developed and applied for the study by means of NMR of the properties of fluids confined in restricted geometries and of the confining porous matrices. The developed methods are applied to the study of particular systems, both natural and artificial, because the properties of the NMR signal (in particular the signal of 1H nuclei of water) furnishes information such as the surface-to-volume ratio, the porosity of the porous medium, the interaction fluid-surfaces, and the transport and diffusion of the fluid molecule. Results are obtained on bone tissue, cells, corals, food, composite materials like cements, soils, sedimentary rocks. Applications range from medicine (diagnosis of osteoporosis, diffusometry, tractography, diagnostic and functional imaging, theranostics) to the protection and conservation of Cultural Heritage. The group has contributed to the development of the MRPM studies also thanks to the organization of the international conferences “International Bologna Conferences on Magnetic Resonance in Porous Media”, held every two years starting from 1990:

Funding:

  • The “NMR for Cultural heritage Program” is part of the Strategic Project "Ambient and Cultural Heritage" funded by the Centro Fermi, Rome, www.centrofermi.it
  • ERC, IDEAS Project CoralWarm - Corals and global warming: the Mediterranean versus the Red Sea,  http://www.coralwarm.eu.
  • The group takes part to the Round Robin Trial “Measurement standards for the NMR characterization of cement based materials”, University of Surrey (UK).

 

Methods for the analysis of environmental impact  on earth and marine environment

Participants

R. Guerra (Assist. Prof), S. Righi (Assist. Prof), S. Marinello (Post Doc.), V. Bandini (Post Doc.), M. Lopes da Rocha (Ph.D. student), T. Combi (Ph.D. student.)

Research activity

The research is aimed at investigating the environmental impacts of human activities; particular attention is paid to effects due to physical pollutants and processes. The research is dedicated to 1) the study of whole-system methods for sustainability assessment and decision support (e.g. Life Cycle Assessment and Multicriteria Analysis); and 2) the development and application of environmental monitoring tools focused on specific impacts (e.g. air and water quality or radiological impacts).

As regards marine environment, research topics converge on pressures and impacts from the sources and transport, to the accumulation of persistent and toxic pollutants released by human-derived activities. Research activities are focused on the chronological reconstruction of anthropic and natural events occurring in the marine environment through use of natural and artificial radioisotopes (14C, 210Pb, 137Cs).

Funding

  • Unibo, Regione ER, ministeriali, EU (POR-FESR)

Collaborations

 

X-ray Digital Radiography and 3D Computed Tomography

Participants

M.P. Morigi (Assist. Prof.), M. Bettuzzi (technician), R. Brancaccio (technician), F. Albertin (Post Doc).

Research activity

The main research activity of the "X-ray imaging" group concerns the development of innovative acquisition systems for X-ray Digital Radiography and 3D Computed Tomography, for diagnostic applications and non-destructive testing in the medical, industrial and Cultural Heritage fields. The research group has expertise not only for the development and the setup of the hardware components of the aforementioned systems, but also for writing the software programs devoted to acquisition and reconstruction of tomographic data.

With regard to the research in the Cultural Heritage field, in the last few years collaborations have been activated with important museums and restoration institutes, both in Italy and abroad. Thanks to these collaborations, the developed tomographic systems have been used for the investigation (both on-site and in the laboratory) of archeological findings and works of art of different size and composition. High-resolution micro-tomography of small objects (voxel size of few microns) as well as CT of large objects (more than 2 m of size) have been successfully performed. It is worth mentioning, for example, the on-site CT of a large ancient globe (220 cm of diameter) created in 1567 by Egnazio Danti and located at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, the CT of the “Goldfinch Madonna” by Raffaello and the tomographic analysis of two big wooden statues from Japan at the Conservation and Restoration Center “La Venaria Reale” near Turin.

Funding

  • “Diagnostic Systems for 3D X-ray Computed Tomography” project, which is part of the Strategic Project “Environment and Cultural Heritage” funded by Centro Fermi, Rome (http://www.centrofermi.it)
  • The group is member of INFN CHNet, the network of the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics devoted to Cultural Heritage, which involves about 20 INFN sections, with multiple skills in archaeometry and diagnostics of Cultural Heritage, engaged in multidisciplinary and coordinated research and technology transfer activities (http://chnet.infn.it).

Collaborations

  • Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • EMPA - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Elettra Synchrotron Light Source, Trieste, Italy
  • Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell’Emilia Romagna, Bologna, Italy
  • Museo Civico Archeologico, Bologna, Italy
  • Accademia di Belle Arti, Bologna, Italy
  • Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Firenze, Italy

 

Development of methods and models for biological Big Data

Participants

G. Castellani (Full Prof.), D. Remondini (Assoc. Prof.), E. Giampieri (RTD A), C. Sala (PhD student), Silvia Vitali (PhD student), Matteo Bersanelli (Post Doc), Nico Curti (PhD student)

Research activity

Using network theory, statistical mechanics and mathematical (deterministic and stochastic) models, novel algorithms are developed for the analysis of high-throughput omics data (gene expression, proteomics, metabolomics, epigenomics, next-generation sequencing) for clustering, signature extraction and mapping of experimental data on databases of biological information (Systems Biology).

Development of mathematical models (network models, Master Equations, Flux Balance Analysis) to describe biological processes (dynamics of biochemical and metabolic circuits) involved in pathological processes such as cancer, metabolic syndrome or physiological aging.

Funding

  • EU: MIMOMICS (www.mimomics.eu), COMPARE (www.compare-europe.eu), NU-AGE (www.nu-age.eu), Propag-ageing (http://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/193308_en.html), IMI-2 Harmony (https://www.harmony-alliance.eu), INFN project NextMR (web.infn.it/nextmr)

Collaborations

  • Computer Laboratory, Cambridge University; Cambridge UK
  • Barabasi Lab, Northeastern University, Boston USA
  • Department of Molecular Biology, Brown University, Providence USA
  • DKFZ Heidelberg, Germany

 

Experimental measurements of perturbations on biological samples

Participants

G. Castellani (Full Prof.), D. Remondini (Ass. Prof.), E. Giampieri (RTD A), I. Zironi (technician)

Research activity

Study of the effect of ionizing radiation (Gamma, X, protons, Alfa) on cells and tissues, by means of time-lapse microscopy, measures electrophysiology (patch clamp) and electrochemical measurements of high-throughput transcriptome. Reconstruction of biological processes through the modeling of biochemical pathways and networks of interaction between proteins. Application of chemical and electrical gradients by means of biocompatible substrates, for characterization of biological and pathological processes.

Funds

  • INFN projects: EXCALIBUR, MIRA, ETHICS.

 

Radiation Physics

Participants

G. Baldazzi (Assit. Prof.), P. Rossi (technician), F. Fuschino (Post Doc.), L. P. Rignanese (PhD student)

Research activity

Development of devices and algorithms for production, dosimetry and detection of Ionizing radiations, with applications to Medicine and Fundamental Physics.

FAMU experiment (INFN Group III): development of a method for measuring HFS in the ground state of the (μ- p) has been developed, expected to provide an accuracy better than 1%. http://webint.ts.infn.it/it/ricerca/exp/famu.html

FLARES experiment (INFN Group V): development of solid-state high-performance detectors for the scintillation light emitted by large crystals of high-resolution mass energy, to study the double beta decay without neutrino emission.

REDSOX experiment II (INFN Group V): development of new nanostructures grown on the surface of Silicon Drift Detectors (SDD) to increase the sensitivity in some bands of energy of X-, UV- and γ-rays, with medical applications to energy-selective radiology.

Funding

  • INFN projects FLARES, FAMU, REDSOX II

 

Software and hardware techniques for diagnostic imaging systems, medical image processing and development of equipment for medical imaging

Participants

N. Lanconelli (Assoc. Prof.), S. Masetti (PostDoc)

Research activity

A first topic is the physical and psychophysical evaluation of digital systems for radiology. The aim is to investigate the physical and the psychophysical performance of digital detectors for radiographic imaging. Objective and subjective measurements by means of human observers and automatic methods are achieved and correlated, for better characterize the performance of digital systems. Software for assisting to perform the evaluations is developed and made available through the website www.medphys.it

Second, voxel dosimetry techniques in Nuclear Medicine are investigated. Voxel dosimetry can be defined as the calculation of radiation absorbed dose to tissue regions with dimensions ranging from hundreds of micrometers to a few centimeters. The aim here is to achieve the dose delivered to patients undergoing targeted radionuclide therapy.  To this end, we estimate the energy deposition at the voxel level through Monte Carlo simulations. Voxel S factors have been calculated for a variety of radionuclides and voxel sizes and are available at the site www.medphys.it

Finally, the development of systems dedicated to breast imaging is achieved through collaborations with various groups. X-ray, gamma and microwave radiations are analyzed. Multi-modal systems are investigated for exploiting the different information provided by the different kind of radiation. Within the framework of these projects, our group is usually in charge of the Monte Carlo simulations of the systems, and the development of image reconstruction and processing methods.

Funding

  • UNIBO, Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR), through the “Futuro in Ricerca” inititative, National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN).
  • Fujifilm Medical System, Ospedale di Sassuolo SpA.

 

Detection and Modelling of Traffic and Pedestrian Flows on a Road Network

Participants

A. Bazzani (Assoc. Prof.), S. Rambaldi (Assoc. Prof.), A. Fabbri (PostDoc), S. Sinigardi (RTD), Flavio Bertini (Postodc), Chiara Mizzi (PhD student), Nico Curti (PhD Student), R. Pepe (Graphic expert)

Research activity

The activity is mainly related to a project for the governance of tourist flows in Venice of the Venice Municipality and it is carried out within a collaboration with TIM and Fabbricadigitale.

The research group of the DIFA has developed algorithms based on deep learning neural networks to perform people and crowd counting from video analysis. The measurement system uses a distributed computation capacity based on GPU devices. The data are integrated with mobile phone data in a dynamical model of mobility on network to forecast possible critical situations or congestions. The same system is applied to manage the data collection from a large number of distributed low-cost sensors for traffic and environmental monitoring.

Funding

  • COMUNE di VENEZIA,
  • REGIONE EMILIA ROMAGNA,
  • EUROPEAN PROJECTS

 

Modeling of collective phenomena in particle accelerators

Participants

A. Bazzani (Assoc. Prof.), S. Sinigardi (RTD), G. Servizi (Assoc. Prof.), Federico Capoani (PhD student)

Research activity

The research activity concerns the new techniques of beam acceleration using the laser-plasma interaction and the nonlinear phenomena in high energy beam dynamics. L3IA (Line for Laser Light Ion Acceleration) is the INFN activity which aims at the development of an innovative but production-ready facility to test ion-beams produced through laser-plasma mechanisms. The contribution of the DIFA research team is through the study of analytical models, the development of the PIC codes and through running simulation campaigns to help experimental activities. The use of adiabatic invariance to perform multiturns beam extraction is a promising technique that is

under development at CERN; the contribution of the DIFA research team is the analysis of dynamical simple models to highlight general laws that are compared with experimental results.

Funding

  • CERN and INFN projects

 

Complex Systems in Physics and Biophysics

Participants

A.Bazzani (Assoc. Prof.), D.Remondini (Assoc. Prof.), A.Fabbri (Post Doc), Nico Curti (PhD student), Rachele Luzi (PhD student)

Research activity

The project, carried out in collaboration with various sections of the INFN in Italy and the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, is the study of complex dynamic systems using the techniques of Statistical Physics and Stochastic Systems Theory (Stochastic Thermodynamics). In particular we study dynamical models of networks to highlight the relationship between the structure of interaction (topology of the network), the microscopic dynamics of the system and the 'emerging' properties such as phase transitions, transient and critical self-organized states. Applications of interest are in biology, biochemistry (Protein and DNA structure), in the problems of network transport and in neuroscience.

Funding

  • INFN PIECES

Contacts

Giuseppe Baldazzi

Assistant professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia - DIFA

Viale Berti Pichat 6/2

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 20 9 5152

Armando Bazzani

Associate Professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia

Via Irnerio 46

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 20 9 1098

Matteo Bersanelli

Research fellow

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia - DIFA

Viale Berti Pichat 6/2

Bologna (BO)

Flavio Bertini

Adjunct Professor

Research fellow

Teaching tutor

Vicepresidenza della Scuola di Farmacia, Biotecnologie e Scienze motorie - Bologna

Viale Berti Pichat 10

Bologna (BO)

Leonardo Brizi

Adjunct Professor

Research fellow

Teaching tutor

Presidenza della Scuola di Scienze

Via Selmi 3

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 20 9 5163

Gastone Castellani

Professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia - DIFA

Viale Berti Pichat 6/2

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 20 9 5120

Enrico Giampieri

Junior assistant professor (fixed-term)

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia - DIFA

Viale Berti Pichat 6/2

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 20 9 5291

Roberta Guerra

Assistant professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia

Via S.Alberto 163

Ravenna (RA)

tel: +39 0544 937305

Nico Lanconelli

Associate Professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia - DIFA

Viale Berti Pichat 6/2

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 20 9 5136

Maria Pia Morigi

Assistant professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia - DIFA

Viale Berti Pichat 6/2

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 20 9 5085

Sandro Rambaldi

Associate Professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia

Via Irnerio 46

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 20 9 1133

Daniel Remondini

Associate Professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia - DIFA

Viale Berti Pichat 6/2

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 20 9 5127

Serena Righi

Assistant professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia

Via S.Alberto 163

Ravenna (RA)

tel: +39 0544 937306

fax: +39 0544 937303

Graziano Servizi

Associate Professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia

Via Irnerio 46

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 20 9 1123

Stefano Sinigardi

Junior assistant professor (fixed-term)

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia

Via Irnerio 46

Bologna (BO)

Claudia Testa

Assistant professor

Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia - DIFA

Viale Berti Pichat 6/2

Bologna (BO)

tel: +39 051 305993