Projects and Grants

ERC Starting Grant CeleBH "The Celestial Road to a Holographic Description of Black Holes" (2023/ 2028)
Our understanding of the elusive quantum nature of black holes is tied to the spectacular advances of the holographic correspondence. However, the latter has been fully developed for anti-de Sitter spacetimes, whereas understanding realistic black holes would require to develop a holographic correspondence for asymptotically flat spacetimes. The aim of this ERC project is to make major steps towards a holographic description of quantum gravity in asymptotically flat spacetimes, and to address some of the unresolved key issues in black hole physics. To do so, it will combine a new approach to holography in flat spacetimes called celestial holography, together with the recent discovery of the existence of intriguing infinite-dimensional symmetries that appear close to black holes’event horizon. Thanks to this combination of powerful approaches based on symmetry principles, this project aims at addressing the challenge of a holographic formulation of spacetimes that include realistic black holes, such as the ones we observe in the sky.

PRIN project "String Theory as a bridge between Gauge Theories and Quantum Gravity" (2020KR4KN2) (2022/ 2025)
This proposal aims at exploiting string theory to connect gauge theories, quantum gravity, and phenomenology in innovative and multidisciplinary ways. The common denominator is the duality between open and closed strings that is remarkably embodied by D-branes. Bound-states of D-branes and strings play a crucial role in the fuzzball proposal for black holes, as defects in theories with (broken) superconformal symmetry and, together with orientifold planes, as pillars of phenomenologically viable models of particle physics beyond the Standard Model. We will try to uncover phenomenological implications of strong-field corrections to General Relativity which are potentially observable by gravitational-wave detectors in extreme events such as black-hole mergers, to analyse defects and localisation in strongly-coupled supersymmetric gauge theories, and to understand infrared dualities and constraints on the stability of dynamical supersymmetry breaking in models with unoriented strings.
The research project is articulated around three main lines:
A) Combining for the first time state-of-the-art Numerical Relativity simulations and analytic tools to explore the phenomenology of fuzzballs and discriminate them from classical black holes, using present and future gravitational-wave observations to extract information on their multipolar structure, photon-spheres, ringdown modes, and echoes.
B) Exploiting non-perturbative localization techniques, branes and holography to investigate Wilson loops, surface and line defects and correlation functions in supersymmetric gauge theories with (broken) super-conformal symmetry.
C) Constraining configurations of D-branes and orientifold planes at Calabi-Yau singularities with (bulk) fluxes and flavour branes to study IR dualities, duality cascades, dynamical mass generation and stability of dynamical supersymmetry breaking.

ERC Consolidator Grant NP-QFT "Non-perturbative dynamics of quantum fields: From new deconfined phases of matter to quantum black holes" (2020/ 2025)
When the degrees of freedom that constitute a quantum physical system are strongly coupled among each other, their collective low-energy behaviour can exhibit a plethora of exotic, surprising and unconventional phenomena. At the same time, however, our most sophisticated tool to describe the quantum world - quantum field theory - becomes extremely difficult to use. This problem appears across the board in many areas, from particle physics, to condensed matter physics, to astrophysics: strong coupling is an intrinsic complexity of quantum systems, whose solution can benefit disparate fields. A large variety of examples is provided by deconfined quantum states of matter, in which the collective behaviour gives rise to emergent low-energy degrees of freedom, often strongly coupled. Another context in which decrypting strong coupling can be the key to a breakthrough is quantum gravity: by the celebrated AdS/CFT correspondence, we can describe gravity in Anti-de-Sitter space in a fully-consistent quantum fashion, in terms of an ordinary - but strongly coupled - quantum field theory in one dimension less.
The ambitious goal of this project is twofold: first, to develop innovative techniques to tame strong coupling; second, to exploit those techniques to discover new deconfined phases of matter on one side, and to unravel mysteries of quantum gravity and the quantum physics of black holes on the other side. We will follow several avenues in the quest for new computational tools at strong coupling, such as refining the concept of symmetry, developing supersymmetric localization, probing Borel summability of certain gauge theories. Applying these and other methods, we will systematically explore three-dimensional gauge theories with bosons and fermions, landscaping their phase diagrams and deconfined critical points. Meanwhile, we will extract the quantum entropy and other properties of black holes, exploring signatures of quantum effects to be compared with future experiments.

PRIN project "The consequences of flavour: from precision measurements to fundamental physics" (2017L5W2PT) (2019/ 2022)
The goal of this project is to study the origin of masses and flavour mixings of the elementary fermions, deriving experimental and theoretical implications of possible solutions to the flavour problem. On one hand, this will be done by means of theoretical investigation, following a new direction of research in which flavour arises as an accidental consequence of dynamical properties of a more fundamental theory. On the other hand, we will explore the phenomenology of new physics models in the flavour sector, taking advantage of the large amount of data that experiments will provide in the coming years. We will exploit the interplay of flavour and electroweak precision measurements and high-energy searches at colliders. Particular attention will be given to the study of lepton flavour universality violations, a topic that will be at the core of theoretical and experimental investigation in particle physics in the next few years. In this respect, we will study models that aim to explain in a coherent way the various experimental anomalies observed in B meson decays. The collaboration will include young researchers from INFN (Pisa, Trieste, Firenze) SISSA and La Sapienza. The main part of the funding will be used for hiring young postdoctoral researchers in order to form a strong and competitive team.

Past Projects