UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy

Prof Franco Cacialli

Prof Franco Cacialli

Professor of Physics

Dept of Physics & Astronomy

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jan 2001

Research summary

My research focuses on the study of the optical and electrical properties of organic (carbon-based) and printable semiconductors for optoelectronics and photonics. Research activities in my group span from the study of devices such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), photovoltaic diodes (PVDs), field-effect transistors (FETs), lasers and sensors, to the investigation of supramolecular architectures for the control of the relevant solid-state properties of conjugated semiconductors. Over the years we have developed a keen interest in the engineering of the electrode-semiconductors interfaces, also with the help of non-invasive optical techniques such as  electroabsorption spectroscopy. For example we were first to report an estimate of the work function of the hole-injection layer  based on poly(3,4-ethylene dioxythiophene) doped with poly(styrene sulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS) within finished devices, and to correlate this with enhanced device performance in organic LEDs. I also have a strong interest in a variety of high-resolution microscopic techniques and their application to nanopatterning, e.g. by means of the scanning near-field optical microscope (SNOM) and of the Scanning Thermal Microscope (SThM). Recent interests include stretchable electronics, graphene and derivatives, and low-gap printable materials for emission/absorption in the near-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is of interest to both biomedical applications (because of the semitransparency window of biological tissue in the window 700-1000 nm) and to photovoltaics (for the potential to extend the absorption of solar energy to such spectral regions).

Teaching summary

1) Supplementary mathematics course (40 hours): 2001-2002 and 2002-2003

2) Lasers and modern optics (32 hours): 2003-2004 to 2007-2008 

3) Plastic and Molecular Electronics (New 32-hours course I introduced at UCL): 2008 till 2017 

PhD students: 40 (of which 27 as first supervisor), 6 of these are current (5 as first supervisor)

MSc/MPhil/MSci students: 54 (of which 52 as first supervisor and 2 current)

BSc final year project: 25 (of which 23 as first supervisor)

PhD exams:

Internal: 17 PhDs and 1 Mphil

External: 61 PhDs and 2 MScs


Universita degli Studi di Pisa
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1994
Universita degli Studi di Pisa
First Degree, Laurea | 1990


Franco Cacialli graduated (cum Laude) from the University of Pisa, and after post-doctoral work at Cambridge, has been a Royal Society University Research Fellow (1996-2004) at Cambridge and University College London (UCL), before being promoted to Reader (2003) and Professor of Physics (2005) in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN, http://www.london-nano.com/). His research focuses on organic semiconductors (OS) properties and device applications. Franco has used scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM) and scanning thermal probes for both investigation and manufacturing of OS nanostructures. A Fellow of the Institute of Physics (FinstP), a former member of the Advisory Board of "Materials Today" and of the Journal of Physics C: Condensed Matter, and a current member of EPSRC Peer Review College, he (co)authored over 200 publications and 6 patents. Franco has coordinated an 11-partner Marie-Curie Research Training Network (RTN) dedicated to investigation of threaded molecular wires (www.threadmill.eu) and co-edited (with P Samorì – Strasbourg) the book “Functional Supramolecular Architectures” (Wiley – 2010).  Franco has been elected to a Fellowship of the American Physical Society in 2009. In 2015 Franco has received a Royals Society Wolfson Research Merit Award for the period 1/1/2015 to 31/12/2019.