Erio Tosatti


tosatti (at)


A 308



+39 040 3787 438


+39 040 3787 249


Erio Tosatti, born 1943, was nominated in 1980 full professor of “Struttura della Materia” (Structure of Matter) in then newborn SISSA, where he established the Condensed Matter Theory Sector, further directed until 2008. Previously, he had been a doctoral student at Pisa’s Scuola Normale Superiore, a CNR researcher 1971-1977 at Rome University, then a CNR senior researcher and lecturer 1977-1980 at Trieste University. Between the 1970s and 1980s he spent two years at the University of Cambridge, one year at the University of Stuttgart, one year at Stanford University, and one year at the IBM Research Laboratories in Zurich. In 1977 he founded at the request of Abdus Salam the Condensed Matter Theory Group at Trieste’s International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), a United Nations institution which he later directed in 2002-2003, and where he is now Chairman of Scientific Programmes. He held visiting positions in various Universities including Paris, Sidney, Bangalore, Shanghai. Serving the community, he has founded an international leading condensed matter theory school in SISSA. He has raised about 30 PhD students, and collaborated with a comparable number of postdocs. In ICTP he has driven for many years training/research activities, bringing together condensed matter theorists from poor and rich countries. In that context, he organized over 50 international Conferences, Workshops, and Colleges. Outside of Trieste over the years he also served as a member of innumerable national/internationalScientific Evaluation Committees. His international achievements and services earned him the Tate Medal, which among Italians had been previously awarded to Edoardo Amaldi and to Gilberto Bernardini. Tosatti’s general research area is the theory and simulation of solids, liquids, surfaces, nanosystems, covering a large variety of themes and properties. Contributions include optical properties; phonon theory and nonlocal dielectric screening; surface phase transitions including reconstruction, roughening, melting, metal-insulator, and others; theory of spin-flip spectroscopy, and of surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy; physics of clusters; theory of nano-spectroscopies including STM, AFM; physics of matter at ultrahigh pressure; physics of Jahn Teller effects in fullerene and of fulleride conductors; strongly correlated superconductivity; theory of friction and nanofriction. He has published, besides a monograph and about a dozen edited books, more than 450 papers in reputed international journals, including 70 Physical Review Letters, 7 Science (plus 2 Perspectives), 8 Nature+ (plus 2 News&Views); 2 Proceedings of Nat’l Academy of the US; 2 Journal of the American Chemical Society; 1 Reviews of Modern Physics; 1 Physics Reports; 1 Nano Letters. Total citations about 11,000, H55.


In the coming years I intend to pursue vigorously the following research lines.

  1. Many body physics, Mott insulators, and strongly correlated superconductivity A recent experimental breakthrough has shown that new expanded A15- Cs3C60 fullerides that are naturally Mott insulating can be driven metallic and superconducting under moderate pressure, exactly reproducing the dome-shaped strongly correlated superconductor phase diagram that Fabrizio, Capone, Castellani and I predicted theoretically over the last decade. In contact with experimental groups we intend now to pursue this line and its various consequences. These systems are especially important because they bridge between high Tc superconductors and ordinary BCS systems, and their resolution sheds new light on the relationships between the two and the Mott transition. Other systems like semiconductor surfaces will also be analysed close to their 2 dimensional Mott transition.
  2. Quantum transport in magnetic nanocontacts and the Kondo effect Understanding the flow of current across ultimately narrow, monatomic contacts is not only of the importance in view of the continuing miniaturization taking place in electronics, but also offers new opportunities to influence the conductance through the bridging atom spin. The interaction of conduction electrons with that spin leads to Kondo conductance anomalies, which our group has just begun to attack and understand. In collabioration with Fabrizio and others we will extend our novel DFT+NRG approach based on first principles, which offers great promise to break new ground, especially in connection with ongoing break junction experiments.
  3. Dissipative physics (mostly classical, but not only): friction and nanofriction Friction, historically and still at present a central subject in engineering, materials wear and energy conservation, was brought back to the realm of physics about a quarter of century ago. The invention of instruments like the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) which measure friction at the nanoscale, and the incredible development of computational power which permits the simulation of nanosized sliders recently generated the field of nanofriction. Nanofriction is challenging both practically, in view of the possibility to develop new means and understanding to control friction, and conceptually, because it could lead in the future to developments in the theory of friction, presently not enough developed. In collaboration with Santoro, Vanossi and Manini I intend to exploit simulations both in order to predict future nanofriction experiments and interesting effects, and in order to extend our fundamental understanding of dissipation under the severely nonlinear conditions realized for example in stick-slip sliding.
  4. Classical and quantum nucleation. Two condensed matter phases separated by a free energy barrier and a first order phase transition cannot transform into one another uniformly, and as is well known the transformation begins locally in a small nucleus, that may subsequently grow to macroscopic size. The time honored but notoriously imperfect classical nucleation theory is in need of quantitative and qualitative improvement. In collaboration with Laio and Prestipino I have begun developing approaches that employ order parameter descriptions of the interface region, also by means of metadynamics methods, to do that. Another aspect I hope to tackle further down the road is the study of quantum effects on nucleation of first order phase transition that take place at very low temperature.

Publications (2008-2010)

  1. F.Pellegrini, G.E. Santoro, E. Tosatti, Atomic Spin-Sensitive Dissipation on Magnetic Surfaces, Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 146103 (2010).
  2. O. Gulseren, N. Manini, E. Meyer, E. Tosatti, M. Urbakh, A. Vanossi, New Trends in Nanotribology, Tribology Letters 39, 227 (2010).
  3. A. Benassi, A. Vanossi, G.E. Santoro, E. Tosatti, Parameter-free dissipation in simulated sliding friction, Phys. Rev. B(RC) 82, 081401 (2010).
  4. R. Guerra, U. Tartaglino, A. Vanossi, E. Tosatti, Ballistic nanofriction, Nature Materials 9, 634 (2010). (News&Views Highlight by A. Schirmeisen, Nature Materials 9, 615 (2010)).
  5. K. Voitchovsky, J.J. Kuna, S.A. Contera, E. Tosatti, F. Stellacci, Direct mapping of the solid-liquid adhesion energy with subnanometre resolution, Nature Nanotechnology 5, 401 (2010).
  6. P. Gava, A. Dal Corso, A. Smogunov, E. Tosatti, Magnetism-induced ballistic conductance changes in palladium nanocontacts, Eur. Phys. Journ. B 75, 57 (2010).
  7. G. Borghi, M. Fabrizio, E. Tosatti, Strongly correlated metal interfaces in the Gutzwiller approximation, Phys. Rev. B 81, 115134 (2010).
  8. C. Negri, N. Manini, A. Vanossi, G.E. Santoro, E. Tosatti, AFM dissipation topography of soliton superstructures in adsorbed overlayers, Phys. Rev. B 81, 045417 (2010).
  9. O.M. Braun, E. Tosatti, Kinetics of stick-slip friction in boundary lubrication, EPL 88, 48003 (2009).
  10. I.E. Castelli, R. Capozza, A. Vanossi, G.E.Santoro, N. Manini, E. Tosatti, “Tribology of the lubricant quantized sliding state” J. Chem. Phys. 131, 174711 (2009).
  11. M. Lucas, X.H. Zhang, I. Palaci, C. Klinke, E. Riedo, E. Tosatti, Hindered rolling and friction anisotropy in supported carbon nanotubes, Nature Materials 8, 876 (2009). (News&Views Highlight by R. Perez, Nature Materials 8, 876 (2009)).
  12. P. Gentile, L.De Leo, M. Fabrizio, E. Tosatti, Lack of Kondo screening at nanocontacts of nearly magnetic metals, EPL 87, 27014 (2009).
  13. Y. Crespo, A. Laio, G.E.Santoro, E. Tosatti, Calculating thermodynamics properties of quantum systems by a non-Markovian Monte Carlo procédure, Phys. Rev. E 80, 015702 (2009).
  14. P. Lucignano, R. Mazzarello, A. Smogunov, M. Fabrizio, E. Tosatti, Kondo conductance in an atomic nanocontact from first principles, Nature Materials 8, 563 (2009).
  15. M. Capone, M, Fabrizio, C. Castellani, E. Tosatti, Colloquium: Modeling the unconventional superconducting properties of expanded A(3)C(60) fullerides, Rev. Mod. Phys. 81, 943 (2009).
  16. J. Sun, D.D. Klug, R. Martonak, J.A. Montoya, M.S. Lee, S. Scandolo, E. Tosatti, High-pressure polymeric phases of carbon dioxide, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 106, 6077 (2009).
  17. E. Tosatti, Perspective: Fullerides in a Squeeze, Science 323, 1570 (2009).
  18. M. Cardona, G.F. Chiarotti, E. Tosatti, “Giuseppe Franco Bassani: Obituary, Phys. Today 62, 74 (2009).
  19. R. Mazzarello, E. Tosatti, Connection between magnetism and structure in Fe double chains on the Ir$(100)$ surface, Phys. Rev. B 79, 134402 (2009).
  20. X.H. Zhang, G.E. Santoro, U. Tartaglino, E. Tosatti, Dynamical chiral symmetry breaking in sliding nanotubes, Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 125502 (2009). (Highlighted in
  21. J.P. Velev, C.G. Duan, J. D. Burton, A. Smogunov, M. K. Niranjan, E. Tosatti, S. S. Jaswal, E. Y. Tsymbal, Magnetic tunnel junctions with ferroelectric barriers: Prediction of four resistance states from first-principles, Nano Letters 9, 427 (2009).
  22. G.Borghi, M. Fabrizio, E. Tosatti, Surface dead layer for quasiparticles near a Mott transition, Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 066806 (2009).
  23. OM Braun, N. Manini, E. Tosatti, Role of lubricant molecular shape in microscopic friction, Phys. Rev. B 78, 195402 (2008).
  24. G. Sclauzero, A. Dal Corso, A. Smogunov, E. Tosatti, Interaction of a CO molecule with a Pt monoatomic chain: the top geometry, AIP Conf. Proc. 1018, 201 (2008).
  25. Y. Miura, R. Mazzarello, A. Dal Corso, A. Smogunov, E. Tosatti, Monatomic Au wire with a magnetic Ni impurity: Electronic structure and ballistic conductance, Phys. Rev. B 78, 205412 (2008).
  26. E. Tosatti, Superconductivity: Squash and sandwiches, Nature Materials (News+Views) 7, 929 (2008).
  27. D. Ceresoli, T. Zykova-Timan, U. Tartaglino, E. Tosatti, Alkali halide surfaces near melting: Wetting and nanofriction properties, Mat. Sci. Eng.A-Struct. Mat. Prop. Micr. Proc. 495 Sp. Iss. SI, 32 (2008).
  28. P. Lucignano, G.E. Santoro, M. Fabrizio, E. Tosatti, Two-level Physics in a Model Metallic Break Junction, Phys. Rev. B 78, 155418 (2008)
  29. O.M. Braun, E. Tosatti, Molecular rolling friction: the cogwheel model, J. Phys. Cond. Matt. 20, 354007 (2008).
  30. G. Sclauzero, A. Dal Corso, A. Smogunov, and E. Tosatti, Interaction of a CO molecule with a Pt monatomic wire: Electronic structure and ballistic conductance, Phys. Rev. B 78, 085421 (2008).
  31. A. Smogunov, A. Dal Corso, E. Tosatti, Magnetic phenomena, spin-orbit effects, and Landauer conductance in Pt nanowire contacts: Density-functional theory calculations, Phys. Rev. B 78, 014423 (2008)
  32. I.E. Castelli, N. Manini, R. Capozza, A. Vanossi, G.E. Santoro, E. Tosatti, Role of transverse displacements for a quantized-velocity state of the lubricant, J. Phys. Cond. Matt. 20, 354005 (2008).
  33. O.M. Braun and E. Tosatti, Rack-and-pinion model of molecular rolling friction, Phil. Mag. Letters 88, 509 (2008).
  34. D. Ceresoli, T. Zykova-Timan, E. Tosatti, Charging Induced Emission of Neutral Atoms from NaCl Nanocube Corners, J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 20, 325236 (2008)
  35. W. Xiao, D. Passerone, P. Ruffieux , K. Ait-Mansour, O. Groning, E. Tosatti, J.S. Siegel, S. Jay, R. Fasel, C-60/corannulene on Cu(110): A surface-supported bistable buckybowl-buckyball host-guest system, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 130, 4767 (2008).
  36. R. Mazzarello, A. Dal Corso, E. Tosatti, Spin-orbit modifications and splittings of deep surface states on clean Au(111), Surf. Sci. 602, 893 (2008).
  37. G.E. Santoro, E. Tosatti, Optimization using quantum mechanics: quantum annealing through adiabatic evolution, (addendum to vol 39, pg R393, 2006) J. Phys. A-Math-Phys. 41, 209801 (2008).
  38. V.Buch, H.Groenzin, I. Li, M. J. Shultz, E. Tosatti, Proton order in the ice crystal surface, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105, 5969 (2008).
  39. N. Manini, G.E. Santoro, E. Tosatti, A. Vanossi, Nonlinear hysteretic behavior of a confined sliding layer, J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 20, 224020 (2008).
  40. T. Zykova-Timan, C. Valeriani, E. Sanz, D. Frenkel, and E. Tosatti, Irreducible finite-size effects in the surface free energy of NaCl crystals from crystal-nucleation data, Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 036103 (2008).

For a full list of publications, see the link