A Focus on our PhD Students – A Focus on our PhD Students – Dr Marco Faustini

I come from Verona, an Italian city famous for its Roman amphitheatre, for the Opera Festival, for Romeo and Juliet, and for excellent wines such as Bardolino, Valpolicella and Amarone. Currently I am a Maître des Conferences at Sorbonne University (Assistant Professor), working at the Laboratoire Chimie de la Matière Condensée de Paris, which was founded by Professor Jacques Livage, the father of “Chimie Douce”. I took my first steps into the world of sol-gel chemistry at the University of Trento (Italy), where, as an undergraduate student, I worked on the formation of oxycarbide glasses from preceramic polymers. After a one-year internship at Aalto University (Finland) working on anti-corrosion sol-gel coatings, I moved to the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France during 2009, to commence a PhD under the supervision of Professor David Grosso. The core idea of the thesis was to develop bottom-up approaches for patterning surfaces at the sub-30 nm scale, to fabricate magnetic data storage devices. As a member of David’s team, I learned the fundamentals of evaporation induced self-assembly, as applied to sol-gel systems. Though this approach, we have also explored the viability of sol-gel nanoporous coatings in other domains, such as nanofluidics, optics and nanofabrication.

After my PhD, I decided to shift my research interests by working at POSTECH (South Korea) as a post-doctoral fellow under the supervision of Professor D.P. Kim. The Kim group pioneered the utilization of lithography on solgel materials to fabricate ceramic microfluidic reactors. During my fellowship, I worked on the application of lithographic and microfluidic methods to “unconventional” ceramic and hybrid materials, including MOF crystals and MOF/sol-gel composites.

As Assistant Professor, I have a double mission: research and teaching. In the laboratory we are interested in combining top-down and bottom-up approaches to fabricate hierarchical structured sol-gel and MOFs coatings, focussing on photonics, water splitting and dew-engineering. We are particularly interested in the “underexplored” sol-gel chemistry of noble metals applied to thin films. Such materials are highly promising in a number of domains, including nanolithography, electrocatalysis, photonics, and electronics (in which the added value in terms of properties is more important than cost, especially for thin films). We have a passion for developing in-situ experiments to study our materials especially in-situ TEM, in-situ IR ellipsometry and synchrotron X-ray absorption and scattering techniques. This collective work was recognized by the Ulrich Award in 2019 by the ISGS.