Person details

phone +39 02 2399 6386
email roberto.piazza@polimi.it
keyboard_voice Voip Call
web Polimi Personal Page
group Soft Matter

Education and Career

1981 Laurea (Master Degree) cum laude in Physics, Department of Physics, University of Milano
1986 PhD in Electronics and Computer Science Engineering (curriculum in Quantum Electronics), Faculty of Engineering, University of Pavia
1987 – 1987 Research Associate, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh/ PA, USA
1989 – 1999 Lecturer, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Electronics, University of Pavia
1999 – 2005 Associate Professor, Department of Nuclear Engineering, Politecnico di Milano
2005 – Full Professor in Condensed Matter Physics, Department of Chemistry, Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano

Positions as Visiting Professor

2010 Laboratoire des Colloïdes, Verres et Nanomatériaux, Université de Montpellier II (F)
2011 École Normale Supérieure Lyon (F)  - ‘Point de vue’ course in soft matter physics
2013 Leverhulme Professor, Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge (UK)
2015 Debye Professor, University of Utrecht (NL)
2016 CNRS Visiting Professor, ILM, Université Claude Bernarde, Lyon (F)    

Fellowships and Awards

1987 Nato Advanced Studies Fellowship
2013 Leverhulme Trust Fellowship
2013 Appointed as Visiting Fellow of the Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge 2015 Debye Professorship (awarded by Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science)

Teaching activity

2000-2001 Introduction to quantum mechanics and nuclear physics (BA Nuclear Engineering)
2001-2005 Atomic Physics II (MD in Nuclear and Material Science Engineering)
2001-2005 Plasma Physics and Engineering (MD in Nuclear Engineering)
2001-2006 Applications of Scattering (PhD in Radiation Science and Technology)
2007-2009 Advanced Electromagnetism (All PhD courses in Engineering)
2010-2016 Soft Matter Physics (MD in Chemical and Materials Science Engineering)
2005-        Statistical Physics (MD in Nuclear, Physical, and Materials Science Engineering).
2018-        Soft Matter: the Structure and Rheology of Complex Fluids (MD in Chemical and Materials Science Engineering)

Institutional Responsibilities (in Politecnico di Milano)

2007-2009 Coordinator of the PhD Course in ‘Radiation Science and Technology’
2009-2012 Assistant Dean and member of the Steering Committee of the III Faculty of Engineering

Commissions of trust and editorial activity

1999-2005 Elected member of the ‘Liquid Board’ of the European Physical Society
2003-2010 Associate Editor of Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science
2003-2011 Member of the Editorial Board of the European Physical Journal E
2013-2017 Section Editor of J. Phys.- Cond. Matt. for liquids, soft matter, and biophysics 
Since 2004 Coordinator of the Topical Team ‘Application of Colloids in microgravity’ of the European Space Agency (ESA) and P.I. of the ESA project ‘Solidification of colloids in space’
Since 2005 Member of the Scientific Council of CISIA, the national consortium for the admission to the Schools of Engineering,and Coordinator of the test in Sciences
Since 2013 Series Editor of the Book Collection in Soft and Biological Matter, Springer Int. Publ. 
Since 2015 Member of the European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC - ESF)
Since 2016 Reviewer within the College of Experts of the European Science Foundation

Organisation of Scientific Meetings

2002 Member of the International Program Committee (IPC) of the 5th Liquid Matter Conference (LMC5), Konstanz
2004  Co-organizer with M. Giglio of the 6th International Meeting on Thermodiffusion, Varenna, Italy
2005  Member of the IPC of LMC6, Utrecht
2013  Member of the National Organizing Committee of the 3rd International Soft Matter Conference, Rome
2014  Member of the IPC of the LMC9, Lisbon

Main invited Talks and Lectures (in the past 10 years)

2009  Driven microfluidic systems, CECAM Workshop, Dublin
2010  Complex Depletion Forces, DPG Spring Meeting, Regensburg
2011  The Unbearable Heaviness of Colloids, Plenary Lect., 8th Liquid Matter Conf., Vienna
2012  Physics of Complex Colloids, ‘E. Fermi’ school, 184th course, Varenna (5 lectures)
2013  Heat transfer at small scales, CECAM Workshop, Zaragoza
2014  Settled and unsettled issues in particle settling, 13th Swiss Soft Days, ETH Zurich (Opening Plenary Lecture)
2015  Soft Matter in external fields and in non-equilibrium conditions, Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science, Utrecht (10 h. lectures)
2009  Blending imaging with scattering, 18th Dutch Soft Matter Meeting, Eindhoven (Opening Plenary Lecture)
2018 Thermal Forces, CECAM workshop on ‘Phoretic Effects at the Nanoscale’, Lausanne Sedimentation & Thermophoresis, CISM, Intern. Centre for Mechanical Sciences,Course 1802 on ‘Transport Phenomena in Complex Fluids’ , Udine (8h. lectures)

In the past decade, I have also been invited to give about 20 international seminars.

Scientific production

Field of research and general bibliometric data. My research activity has mostly been devoted to the experimental study of the physics of soft matter and complex fluids, covering a rather wide range of topics. So far, I have published approx. 120 peer reviewed papers that have obtained more than 4500 citations, corresponding to a Hirsch index h=35, on the following main topics:

a)  Electric birefringence (Kerr effect) in complex fluids;
b)  Sedimentation and equation of state of colloidal suspensions;
c)  Translational and rotational Brownian dynamics of particle dispersions;
d)  Depletion forces in colloidal suspensions;
e)  Association and crystallization processes in protein solutions;
f)  Thermophoresis (diffusion driven by thermal gradients) in colloidal and biological fluids;
g)  Pickering (solid-stabilized) emulsions;
h)  Colloidal aggregation and gelation in normal and micro-gravity conditions;
i)  Novel optical correlation and particle velocimetry methods;
j)  Restructuring and ageing in colloidal and biopolymer gels.

10 selected recent publications

  1. R. Piazza, S. Buzzaccaro, E. Secchi, A. Parola, What buoyancy really is. A generalized Archimedes' principle for sedimentation and ultracentrifugation, Soft Matter 8, 7112-7115 (2012)
  2. E. Secchi, T. Roversi, S. Buzzaccaro, L. Piazza, and R. Piazza, Biopolymer gels with "physical"cross-links: gelation kinetics, aging, heterogeneous dynamics, and macroscopic mechanicalproperties, Soft Matter 9, 3931 (2013)
  3. S. Buzzaccaro, E. Secchi, and R. Piazza, Ghost Particle Velocimetry: Accurate 3D FlowVisualization Using Standard Lab Equipment, Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 048101 (2013)
  4. R. Piazza, Settled and unsettled issues in particle settling, Rep. Progr. Phys. 77, 056602 (2014)
  5. E. Secchi, S. Buzzaccaro, and R. Piazza, Time-evolution scenarios for short-range depletion gels subjected to the gravitational stress, Soft Matter 10, 5296-5310 (2014)
  6. A. Parola, R. Piazza, and V. Degiorgio, Optical extinction, refractive index, and multiple scattering for suspensions of interacting colloidal particles, J. Chem. Phys. 141, 124902 (2014)
  7. E. Lattuada, S. Buzzaccaro, and R. Piazza, Colloidal Swarms Can Settle Faster than Isolated Particles: Enhanced Sedimentation near Phase Separation, Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 038301 (2016)
  8. E. Secchi, R. Rusconi, S. Buzzaccaro, M. M. Salek, S. Smriga, R. Piazza, and R. Stocker, Intermittent turbulence in flowing bacterial suspensions, J. Roy. Soc. Interf. 13, 20160175 (2016)
  9. E. Lattuada, S. Buzzaccaro, and R. Piazza, Thermophoresis in self-associating systems: Probing poloxamer micellization by opto-thermal excitation, Soft Matter 15, 2140 (2019)
  10. Z. Filiberti, R. Piazza, and S. Buzzaccaro, Multiscale relaxation in aging colloidal gels: From localized plastic events to system-spanning quakes, Phys. Rev. E 100, 042607 (2019)

Books and book chapters (in English)

2011 R. Piazza, Soft Matter: that stuff that dreams are made of, Springer-Verlag, Dordrech, (reviewed on Physics Today, December 2011).

2014 R. Piazza, Optical Correlation Techniques for the Investigation of Colloidal Systems, in "Colloidal Foundations of Nanoscience", D. Berti and G. Palazzo edit., Chap. 10, Elsevier, Amsterdam.

2017 R. Piazza, Statistical Physics: A Prelude and Fugue for Engineers, Springer Int. Publ. (reviewed on Physics Today, October 2017)