Where I am now
Currently I am undertaking my PhD training working as an early-stage researcher in the beamlines EIS-TIMER and EIS-TIMEX at FERMI, the Italian seeded free electron laser. FERMI is a large-scale facility which produce extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light pulses in the femtosecond range with unique properties: high longitudinal and transversal coherence, full polarization control, high peak power, near transform limited and narrow band pulses. On the one hand, working in a facility of such kind is unquestionably a challenge in some regards, because the organization and the time management are ruled by the rigid schedule of the experiments and the working rhythms are quite unusual. On the other hand, working with the beamline scientist you get to prepare and to participate to several experiments of different types proposed by the external users, and this represent an opportunity to mature a wide scientific perspective.
My project aims at exploiting the EUV radiation produced by FERMI to perform ultrafast pump-probe experiments to investigate electron and lattice dynamics in materials. The main topic is the study of the mechanism of the thermite redox reaction between iron oxide and aluminium. The two materials are irradiated by an ultrashort IR laser pulse which causes ultrafast heating and provide the sparkle that triggers the reaction. Then, the process is probed with the EUV radiation from the FEL tuned to the M3 absorption edge of iron and to the L3 absorption edge of aluminium. The measurement is repeated several times varying the delay between the IR pump and the EUV probe in order to obtain many spectroscopic snapshots so to reconstruct the dynamics of the firsts hundreds of picoseconds of the process.
How I got here
When I was in high school, I was not really into science. After high school, I decided to go to the university because I wanted to study at the university as I life experience and I was not sure at all about what discipline to choose. I worked in a gelateria making ice-creams and I often baked bread and pizza at home with my parents and I was deeply fascinated by the different balance of sugars used to give a creamy texture to various ice-cream flavours and by the fermentation of the dough, which doubles its volume overnight. So, I decided to study chemistry, because I wanted to learn more about these kinds of processes, but I actually got the chance to gain some knowledge about much more general things and I enjoyed it. One of the things that I found more thrilling was quantum mechanics and how it describes the interaction between light and matter and the tremendous amount of information that may be accessed from such interaction. This interest is what has driven my academic carrier; indeed, I proceeded my studies with a master in photochemistry and then a master in spectroscopy.
My interests and hobbies
I enjoy being in the open air, walking and working in the garden. I love cooking; indeed, I spend a great deal of time in the kitchen and I like a lot to cook for my friends and to bring people together organizing dinners.