Laura Fumagalli

Laura Fumagalli


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Personal profile


I am reader in condensed matter physics at the Department of Physics & Astronomy and staff researcher of the National Graphene Institute (NGI). My research focuses on the study of electrodynamic and dielectric properties of bio and non-bio materials on the atomic scale. I received my M.Sc. in electronic engineering in 2002 (double-degree program at Polytechnic University of Milan - Italy and École Superior d’Electricité - France) and my PhD in 2006 at Polytechnic University of Milan with a thesis on low-noise amplifiers applied to scanning probe microscopy (SPM) - supervisors Prof. M. Sampietro and Prof. G. Ferrari - developing new instrumentation and methods that probe impedance and dielectric properties on the nanoscale. I then joined the Department of Electronics of the University of Barcelona (Spain) as post-doctoral researcher (2006-2010) and lecturer (2010-2014), further developing scanning probe approches to probe dielectric properties on the atomic scale. 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 at the University of Manchester and the NGI as lecturer in 2015. 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 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". 


Research interests

In my group we study the dielectric polarization and electrodynamic properties of molecular complexes and nanoscale systems, with particular interest in water and other molecular liquids, 2D crystals and their heterostructures, with an interdisciplinary approach. 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 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 polarization properties on the atomic scale. 


I always look for candidates to join my group through various PhD scholarship schemes (Presidential/Dean's, EPSRC DTP, UKRI CDTs, CSC-Manchester, Bell Burnell, with applications typically early January) and postdoctoral fellowship schemes (EPSRC, Newton International, MSCA). If you are interested to do your PhD or a postdoc in my group on one of the on-going research lines listed above, please, contact me by email with your CV, describing your background and why you would fit the role. 



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

In this project, we probe the dielectric polarization properties of molecular liquids under strong confinement. This is done by combining two atomic-scale technologies, the 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 electric polarization properties of molecular liquids confined inside, such as water and electrolytes,  directly on the atomic scale using scanning dieletric microscopy. The obtained dielectric 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 S. Benaglia; Miss H. Read.   



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 Rene Izquierdo Fabregas. Supervisor: Dr L. Fumagalli  

H2020-MSCA-IF-2017 Individual Fellowship - Dielec2DNanoLiquids:  Dielectric measurement of 2D nanoconfined liquids. Researcher: Dr Pablo 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.  
  • Dr. Simone Benaglia - Postdoctoral researcher (since Jan. 2022) working on the ERC-2018-CoG Liquid2DM project.  
  • Harriet Read - PhD student, supported by EPSRC 2018-2019 studentship, working on 2D confined water and biological molecules.  
  • Mordjann Souilamas - PhD student, supported by UoM Dean's Doctoral Scholarship 2020-2021, working on 2D confined water.    
  • Jing Zhang - PhD student, supported by CSC 2021-2022 scholarship, developing new instrumentation for atomic-scale characterization.  
  • Eli Rees - PhD student, supported by CDT-NowNano 2022-2023 studentship, working on 2D confined water.    

Previous members 

     Postdoctoral researchers

  • Dr. T. Dufils (2019-2021), supported by ERC-2018-CoG Liquid2DM 
  • Dr. R. Izquierdo Fabregas (2019-2021), supported by H2020-MSCA-IF-2018 Individual Fellowship - Dielec2DBiomolecules 
  • Dr. P. Ares (2017-2020), supported by H2020-MSCA-IF-2017 Individual Fellowship - Dielec2DNanoLiquids

     PhD students 

  • J. Normansell (2017-2021), graduated with the thesis titled "Characterisation and dielectric properties of water confined in van der Waals heterostructures".
  • 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". 

Visiting researchers 

  • 2019 Andrea Ragni - PhD student from Poliytechnic University of Milan (Italy), Department of Electronics, in collaboration with Prof. G. Ferrari.

MPhys and MSc students

  • George Olsen - MPhys student (since Sept. 2022)
  • Carlo Duva - MPhys student (since Sept. 2022)
  • 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  - Assistant professor 

PHYS10121  Quantum Physics and Relativity - Assistant professor 

PHYS10302  Vibrations and Waves - Assistant professor  

PHYS10342  Electricity and Magnetism - Assistant professor 

PHYS30180/280  Third-Year Physics Labs - Lab demonstrator

PHYS40181/182  MPhys Project - Supervisor

Previous courses in Manchester

PHYS10180/280  Digital Electronics Labs - Lab demonstrator

PHYS20240 Year 2 General Paper - Course leader



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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