Personal details

Professor Nunzio Motta
Faculty of Science,
School of Chemistry & Physics
Discipline *
Condensed Matter Physics, Nanotechnology, Materials Engineering
+61 7 3138 5104
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Identifiers and profiles
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PhD (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa)

Professional memberships
and associations

Epitaxy, Growth, Nanotechnology, Graphene, 2D Materials, Quantum Dots, Semiconductors, Solar Cells, Scanning Tunneling Microscopy, Ultra High Vacuum technology

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


As a physicist, I am interested in searching for answers to the fundamental questions of nature. In 1991 I was the first scientist in Italy to achieve atomic resolution in Ultra High Vacuum by Scanning Tunneling Microscopy. Even today, I am still fascinated by the fact that we are able to look at, and move, individual atoms on surfaces. I love to see how they arrange in ordered structures and form materials with incredible properties, when we set the right growth conditions. I study also their microscopic composition and their chemical bonds with a range of spectroscopy techniques using laboratory sources and synchrotron radiation. My dream is to create materials to improve our environment, using our powerful nanotechnology tools to develop new solar cells, energy storage devices, and gas sensors.


  • PhD, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, 1986
  • BE (Hons I) in Physics, University of Rome “La Sapienza”, 1983

Research areas

  • Surface Science, Material science, Nanotechnology
  • Semiconductors, 2D Materials, Graphene
  • Gas Sensors, Solar cells, Supercapacitors

Recent Funded Projects

  • Xe-plasma dual beam for advanced future materials. Chief investigator: N.Motta. Funding Source: ARC. Funding: $ 1,100,000. Year 2018.
  • National Facility for Nanoscale Characterisation of Luminescent Materials. Chief Investigator: Matthew Phillips. Source: ARC. Funding: $ 542,000. Year 2018.
  • Establishing Advanced Networks for Air Quality Sensing and Analyses. Chief Investigator: L.Morawska. Funding source:ARC. Funding: $ 445,000. Year 2016-2018.
  • Graphene Based Thin film supercapacitors. Chief Investigator: N. Motta. Funding source: QLD government – Chinese Academy of Science. Funding: $ 125,000. Year 2016-2018.
  • Encapsulating Quantum Dots into ZnO Nanorods for Advanced Photonics and Laser Applications Chief Investigators: N.Motta. Funding source: AOARD. Funding US$ 100,000. Year 2014-2016 (2 years).

Career History

  • 2015-Present: Professor, Queensland University of Technology , Science and Engineering Faculty, School of Chemistry Physics and Mechanical Engineering.
  • 2010-2015:   Principal research fellow, Queensland University of Technology , Science and Engineering Faculty, School of Chemistry Physics and Mechanical Engineering.
  • 2004-2009:       Adjunct Associate Professor, Queensland University of Technology, School of Engineering Systems
  • 2001-2004:        Associate Professor, Università Roma TRE, Department of Physics
  • 1984-2001:         Assistant professor, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Department of Physics

Publication records

This information has been contributed by Professor Nunzio Motta.



  • Physics Major
  • Nanotechnology minor

Teaching areas

  • Physics
  • Atomic and molecular physics
  • Solid State Physics
  • Nanotechnology
  • Computer controlled instrumentation


  • PVB 203 Experimental Physics (Sem 1)
  • PVB 301 Materials and Thermal Physics (Sem 1)
  • PVB 302 Classical and Quantum Physics (Sem 1)
  • ENN 531 Advanced Materials and Engineering Applications (Sem 1)
  • PVB 304 Physics Research (Sem 2)
This information has been contributed by Professor Nunzio Motta.


Supervision of HDR students

Prof. Nunzio Motta currently supervises PhD and MSc students in the following areas:

Growth and characterization of 2D Materials

  • Hybrid 2D materials synthesis for nanoelectronics and photovoltaics applications. Graphene based heterostructures, combining graphene with other two dimensional materials, have been recently proposed in order to overcome the limitation of graphene in 2D electronics. The hybridisation of graphene with other two dimensional materials opens up the possibility of engineering the band gap and realising synthetic two-dimensional alloys and topological insulators. PhD projects available in this area.
  • Graphene synthesis on SiC nanostructures for next-generation electronics and gas sensing.  This project aims at studying the growth of Graphene obtained by heating crystalline SiC nanostructures at high temperature (1200-1350 C) in Ultra High Vacuum. The aim is to understand and master the growth mechanism, in order to obtain a seamless single graphene sheet on nanostructures suitable for electronic and sensing.  References: Growing Graphene on semiconductors Nanotechnology, 2017, 28 (34), p. 345602. Carbon, 2015, 98, pp. 307-312. Carbon, 2015. 91(0): p. 378-385. Carbon, 2014. 68: p. 330-336. Carbon, 2014. 68: p. 563-572.      PhD projects available in this area.

Supercapacitors, Energy storage

  • Carbon Based Supercapacitors   Supercapacitors can provide a higher power density but a smaller energy density compared to traditional chemical batteries, which make them very attractive for applications where instantaneous power is required. We are working at high performance supercapacitors by using all carbon electrodes.  References:  Nanotechnology, 2016. 27(16): p. 165402, Journal of Power Sources, 2015. 274: p. 823. PhD projects available in this area.

Solar energy

  • New nanomaterials for Solar cells We are exploring the development of low cost alternative solar cells by using new nanomaterials: conductive polymers,  carbon nanotubes, graphene,  metal nanoparticles, ternary compounds and perovskites. The understanding and the optimization of the electronic and physical interactions between polymeric donors and acceptor material is a crucial step towards higher efficiency.  References: The Journal of Physical Chemistry Part C, 115, 6324,  (2011), Solar Energy, 106 p. 23-37 (2014). PhD projects available in this area

Gas sensing

  • Electrospun nanomaterials for gas sensing. PhD projects available in this area.

Professional service

  • Associate editor for: Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, Advanced Device Materials, Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology.
  • Referee for the International reviews: Applied Physics Letters, Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology,  Nanotechnology IOP, J Phys D, ACS-Nano, Nano letters, Advanced Functional Materials, Sensors, Scientific Reports,  Carbon
  • Referee for French PhD theses (INSA-Lyon, Universitè J.Fourier-Grenoble)
  • Assessor for research proposals: ARC ; CEA (france); NSERC (Canada); Qatar foundation,

Conference organization

  • Organising committee Wagga wagga 42nd Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting, Wagga Wagga, NSW, 30 January – 02 February 2018.
  • Conference Chair NanoS-E3 International School and Workshop, Brisbane, QLD, 26-29 September 2017.
  • Conference Chair NanoS-E3 International School and Workshop, Kingscliff, NSW, 26-29 September 2017.
  • Conference Chair NanoS-E3 International School and Workshop, Arlie Beach, QLD, 15 – 20 September, 2013.
  • Conference Chair NanoS-E3 International School and Workshop, Kingscliff, NSW, 12-13 september 2011
  • Conference Chair NanoS-E3 International School and Workshop, Couran Cove, QLD 23-28 September 2007
This information has been contributed by Professor Nunzio Motta.


For more publications by this staff member, visit QUT ePrints, the University's research repository.


Awards and recognition

Committee Role/Editor or Chair of an Academic Conference
Reference year
Chairman of the NanoS-E3 School and Workshop (Nanotechnology for Sensor, Electronics Energy and Environment) 2007-2011-2013-2015-2017. The NanoS-E3 School and Workshop is an established periodic meeting bringing together leading international researchers to present their activities and foster cooperation in the field of nanotechnology, focussing in the areas of sensors, electronics, energy and environment.
Reference year
Order of the Star of Italy: this distinction, which qualifies as a second civilian honor of the State, represents a particular honor on behalf of all those, Italians abroad or foreigners, who have acquired special merit in the promotion of friendly relations and cooperation between Italy and other countries and the promotion of ties with Italy.
Editorial Role for an Academic Journal
Reference year
Associate editor for Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology
Reference year
Queensland International Fellowship Microscopic studies of new gas sensing materials for solar powered nanosensors. Funding 3 months Scientific visit to University of Roma Tor Vergata

Research projects

Grants and projects (Category 1: Australian Competitive Grants only)

Establishing Advanced Networks for Air Quality Sensing and Analyses
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year
A novel multiscale modelling technique to explore mechanical deformation of nanowires in high-performance devices
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year
Nanowire;Multiscale modelling;Surface effect
Development of gas selective membranes (for intra-ruminal capsules)
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year