Laura Fumagalli

Laura Fumagalli


Personal profile


I am Reader in Condensed Matter Physics at the Department of Physics & Astronomy and staff researcher of the National Graphene Institute (NGI). I received my M.Sc. in Electronic Engineering in 2002 (EU double-degree program at Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy, and École Superior d’Electricité - Gif sur Yvette, France) and my PhD in 2006 at Polytechnic University of Milan (supervisors Prof. M. Sampietro and Prof. G. Ferrari) in which I developed new instrumentation and methods that probe impedance and dielectric properties on the atomic scale using scanning probe microscopy (SPM), known as scanning dielectric microscopy (SDM). I then joined the Department of Electronics of the University of Barcelona (Spain) as post-doctoral researcher (2007-2010) and lecturer (2011-2014), where I applied SDM and further developed it. During this period, I was awarded the Juan de la Cierva research fellowship (2009) and the Ramon y Cajal research fellowship (2014) by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. I joined the Condensed Matter Physics group in Manchester as a lecturer in 2015 to continue my research on electric polarization at the atomic scale. In 2018 I was awarded the ERC Consolidator grant "Two-dimensional liquid-cell dielectric microscopy" (Liquid2DM) by the European Research Council with the aim of probing the dielectric properties of liquids under atomic-scale confinement. I got tenured in 2019 and promoted to Reader in the same year. I currently sit in the AFM & SPM committee of the Royal Microscopical Society (RMS) and I am co-editor of the RMS magazine "InFocus". My ORCID is 0000-0003-1749-2905. My full publication list is on Google Scholar here. 


Research interests

My research is focused on the experimental study of dielectric polarization and electrodynamic properties of bio and non-bio nanoscale systems with a multidisciplinary approach. In particular, I am currently interested in water and other molecular liquids under atomic-scale confinement, biomolecules, 2D crystals and their heterostructures. We investigate these systems directly on the atomic scale using and developing new experimental methods based on scanning probe microscopy. 


  • Dielectric  properties of interfacial/confined water and other liquids under atomic-scale confinement
  • Dielectric properties of biomolecular systems, such as DNA and proteins. 
  • Electric, piezoelectric and ferroelectric properties of 2D crystals and heterostructures. 
  • Development of scanning dielectric microscopy (SDM), a set of scanning probe methods able to probe dielectric properties on the atomic scale under various experimental conditions. 



We always look for candidates that can join us through various PhD scholarship schemes (Presidential/Dean's, EPSRC DTP, UKRI CDTs, CSC-Manchester, Bell Burnell, with applications typically early January, see more information here) and postdoctoral fellowship schemes (EPSRC, Newton International, MSCA). If you are interested, please, contact me by email at [email protected] with your CV and a personal statement about your background. 



ERC-2018-COG European Research Council Consolidator grant Liquid2DM - 2D Liquid-Cell Dielectric Microscopy

In this project, we probe the dielectric polarization and electrodynamic properties of molecular liquids under atomic-scale confinement. This is done by combining two atomic-scale technologies, the two-dimensional (2D) van der Waals (vdW) crystal technology and advanced scanning probe microscopy. We engineer 2D liquid cells with controlled geometry and materials properties by vdW-crystals assembly and we probe the local electrical impedance of molecular liquids confined inside, such as water, electrolytic solutions and biomolecules, directly on the atomic scale using scanning dieletric microscopy. The obtained dielectric and conductive properties, remained essentially unknown so far for difficulties in measuring them, have fundamental implications for both materials and life sciences. PI: Dr L. Fumagalli. Research team: Dr T. Dufils; Dr R. Wang; Dr. Benaglia; Dr. H. Read.

UKRI-MSCA Individual Fellowship 2023-2024 - Researcher: Dr S. Benaglia. Supervisor: Dr L. Fumagalli  




The Royal Society Paul Instrument Fund 2018 - Multiplatform Scanning Dielectric Microscope - PI Dr L. Fumagalli. 

H2020-MSCA-IF-2018 Individual Fellowship - Dielec2DBiomolecules: Dielectric measurement of 2D confined biomolecules at the nanoscale. Researcher: Dr R. Fabregas. Supervisor: Dr L. Fumagalli  

H2020-MSCA-IF-2017 Individual Fellowship - Dielec2DNanoLiquids:  Dielectric measurement of 2D nanoconfined liquids. Researcher: Dr P. Ares. Supervisor: Dr L. Fumagalli


My group

Current members (Schuster Building Lab 1.09 and National Graphene Institute)

  • Dr. Rui Wang - Postdoctoral researcher (since Sept. 2020) working on the ERC-2018-CoG Liquid2DM project on confined water. 
  • Dr. Simone Benaglia - UKRI-MSCA postdoctoral fellow (since Jan. 2022), working on biological molecules and interfacial water. 
  • Dr. Harriet Read - Postdoctoral researcher (since Aug. 2023) working on the ERC-2018-CoG Liquid2DM project and biological molecules.
  • Mordjann Souilamas - PhD student, supported by UoM Dean's Doctoral Scholarship 2020-2024, working on 2D confined water.    
  • Jing Zhang - PhD student, supported by CSC 2022-2025 scholarship, developing new instrumentation for atomic-scale characterization.  
  • Eli Rees - PhD student, supported by CDT-NowNano 2022-2025 studentship, working on 2D confined water.    
  • Matheus Sueson Cardoso - PhD student, supported by UoM studentship 2023-2026, working on 2D confined water. 
  • Ziwei Zhang - PhD student, supported by CSC 2023-2026 scholarship, working on confined water and biological molecules. 

Previous members 

     Postdoctoral researchers

  • Dr. T. Dufils (2019-2021), supported by ERC-2018-CoG Liquid2DM. Now PDRA at Uppsala University (Sweden). 
  • Dr. R. Izquierdo Fabregas (2019-2021), supported by H2020-MSCA-IF-2018 Individual Fellowship - Dielec2DBiomolecules. Now Maria Zambrano Senior Fellow at the University of Granada (Spain). 
  • Dr. P. Ares (2017-2020), supported by H2020-MSCA-IF-2017 Individual Fellowship - Dielec2DNanoLiquids. Now Ramon y Cajal Fellow at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain). 

     PhD students 

  • H. Read (2019-2023, UoM), graduated with the thesis titled  "Atomic-scale characterisation of structural and dielectric polarization properties of biological surfaces and interfacial water". 
  • H. Nevison-Andrews (2018-2022), graduated with the thesis titled  "Atomic-scale characterization of interfacial electric polarization in van der Waals heterostructures and two-dimensionally confined water". 
  • J. Normansell (2017-2021), graduated with the thesis titled "Characterisation and dielectric properties of water confined in van der Waals heterostructures". Now data curator at Henry Royce Institute (UK). 
  • M. C. Biagi (2013-2016), graduated with the thesis titled "Nanoscale electrical characterization of biological matter at microwave frequencies" (University of Barcelona, Spain).

Visiting researchers 

  • 2019 Andrea Ragni - PhD student from Poliytechnic University of Milan (Italy), Department of Electronics - supervisor Prof. G. Ferrari.
  • 2023 Aitor Zambundio Sepulveda - PhD student from University of Murcia (Spain), Department of Physics - Supervisors: Prof. J. Colchero Paetz and Prof. C. Gomez-Navarro

MPhys students

  • Kim Mountney - MPhys student (2024-present)
  • Liana-Maria Ivascu - MPhys student (2023-present) 
  • Daniel Torres Gallego - MPhys student (2023-present) 
  • Ramon Ciutad - MPhys student (2023-present) 
  • George Olsen - MPhys student (2022-2023) - graduated
  • Carlo Duva - MPhys student (2022-2023) - graduated
  • Shane Devine - MPhys student (2021-2022) - graduated
  • Shay Mcateer - MPhys student (2021-2022) - graduated
  • T. Bristow, MPhys student (2020-2021) - graduated
  • I. Lee, MPhys student (2020-2021) - graduated
  • H. Read, MPhys student (2018-2019) - graduated
  • R. Brown, MPhys student (2018-2019) - graduated
  • J. Dougherty, MPhys student (2017) - graduated
  • H. Nevison-Andrews, MPhys student (2017) - graduated 
  • L. Bennett, MPhys student (2015-2016) - graduated 
  • I. Cousins, MPhys student (2015-2016) - graduated  



Current courses in Manchester

PHYS40411  Frontiers of Solid-State Physics  - Course leader 

PHYS10101  Dynamics  -  Tutor 

PHYS10121  Quantum Physics and Relativity - Tutor 

PHYS10302  Vibrations and Waves - Tutor  

PHYS10342  Electricity and Magnetism - Tutor

PHYS30180/280  Third-Year Physics Labs - Lab demonstrator

PHYS40181/182  MPhys Project - Supervisor

Areas of expertise

  • QC Physics
  • TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Advanced materials
  • National Graphene Institute


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