Prof. Dr. Ilaria Zardo
Nanophononics Lab, Departments of Physics and Swiss Nanoscience Institute, University of Basel


Investigating phonons and thermal transport by inelastic light scattering and pump-probe spectroscopy


The recently growing research field called “Nanophononics” deals with the investigation and control of vibrations in solids at the nanoscale. Phonon engineering leads to a controlled modification of phonon dispersion, phonon interactions, and transport [1,2]. However, engineering and probing phonons and phonon transport at the nanoscale is a non-trivial problem.

In this talk, we discuss how phononic properties and thermal transport can be engineered and measured in nanostructures by inelastic light scattering and pump-probe spectroscopy experiments.

We also discuss a versatile pump-probe setup we have recently designed and built. The set-up is built in such a way that we can perform:
i. time-resolved spontaneous/stimulated Raman spectroscopy;
ii. (time-resolved) coherent anti-Stokes Raman spectroscopy;
iii. thermal reflectivity measurements;
iv. spatially-resolved pump-probe spectroscopy for determination of phonon mean free path and phonon coherence lengths.

[1] M. Maldovan, Nature 503, 209 (2013).
[2] S. Voltz et al., Eur. Phys. J. B 89, 15 (2016)


Ilaria Zardo was appointed as a tenure track assistant professor at the Department of Physics at the University of Basel in 2015 and became a tenured Associate Professor in 2020. She also heads the Nano Technology Center at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and represents this service unit on the SNI’s Executive Committee. In 2010, she received her Ph.D. in Physics from the Technische Universität München and Università di Roma "Sapienza" with summa cum laude. From 2010 to 2011, she was a postdoc in the group of Gerhard Abstreiter at Technische Universität München and from 2012 to 2015 in the group of Erik Bakkers at the Technical University of Eindhoven. In 2014, she successfully applied for the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme Veni, which is a prestigious Talent Scheme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), meant for talented, creative researchers who are starting their own line of research. She received in 2015 the Hertha-Sponer Prize, awarded to a female scientist for outstanding scientific work in the field of physics.

In 2017 she received the ERC Starting Grant.
She was awarded the 2022 Emmy Noether Distinction for mid-career.

Together with her research group, Ilaria Zardo investigates fundamental processes in tailored nanostructures. In particular, they study excitations of the crystal lattice (phonons) with the aim of engineering them and of developing new measurement methods. The work contributes to a better understanding of the thermal properties of nanomaterials and supports the realization of phonon-based devices.