Photonics in Random Media

In recent years, random lasing materials (e.g. powders, porous media, precipitates in solution, or photonic crystals with impurities) have been extensively studied experimentally. Pumping energy into these systems causes them to re-emit multi-mode coherent light, with a spectrum displaying randomly arranged peaks in frequency. Starting from the structure and geometry of the atoms and molecules that scatter the light waves, one would eventually want a theory that predicts the onset, the nature and the features of the light modes and answering the following questions.

  1. What shape and size do light modes display in space ?
  2. In which dimension and under which conditions do they localize because of disorder?
  3. On which frequencies do light modes emit in cavity-less media?
  4. Can there be a random laser pulse in time?
  5. Do competing random laser modes phase-lock as in multimode standard lasers?
  6. How strong is the coupling magnitude and how is it related to the coupling modes spatial overlap and the etherogeneous optical susceptibility?

The latter two questions are connected to the coupling property of depending on the spatial overlap of the electromagnetic fields of the interacting modes. This feature ascribes to the problem of assessing the structure of an interacting network of light-modes in a statistical mechanics representation. Indeed, a set of modes can interact only if their electromagnetic fields overlap in space and, in the lasing regime, non-linear amplification occurs only if the frequencies of the modes satisfy some kind of mode-locking condition. These rules strongly influence the set of feasible interactions in which each mode is viewed as a network node. A key challenge that we address is the characterization of the structure of this network of wave-modes, including the strengths and signs of the relevant random interactions, as is required, e.g., in order to distinguish apart physical regimes of laser stationary behaviour. To this aim a Hamiltonian theory has been derived and investigated in systems with different kinds of bond-disorder, ranging from standard ordered multimode mode-locking lasers to recently introduced glassy random lasers.

Glassy Random Laser and Experimental Measurement of Replica Symmetry Breaking

The investigation of the glassy behaviour of light in the framework of our theory is made possible by means of a newly introduced overlap parameter, the Intensity Fluctuation Overlap (IFO) measuring the correlation between intensity fluctuations of waves in random media. This order parameter allows to identify the laser transition in arbitrary physical regimes, with varying amount of disorder and non-linearity. In particular, in random media it allows for the identification of the glassy nature of some kind of random laser, in terms of emission spectra data, the only data so far accessible in random laser measurements. The model devised from first principles in whose framework the parameter is defined is the nonlinear phasor statistical mechanical model. This is a generalised complex spherical spin-glass model solvable in the mean-field approximation by Replica Symmetry Breaking theory. IFO measurements are possible in real experiments, recently leading to a validation of the RSB theory and a new characterisation of lasers in terms of spectral intensity fluctuations.

Interference of Coupling of Waves in Random Media

The light modes interaction network has to be inferred starting from data acquired in measurements, of spectra and correlations of phases and amplitudes of the light modes, and this inference problem is closely analogous to those in our other areas of application of statistical inference. Starting with the analysis of the inverse problem in statistical mechanical systems with continuous variables, like XY and complex phasors, our inference project is concerned with the bottom-up approach for studying statistical models for application to wave and optics. The parameters describing a given model system, like active links in the network system and external field affecting the system, are inferred using the data set which is made available by experimental or numerical measurements.

We adopt various inference techniques to reconstruct the interaction networks and to estimate the coupling values: mean-field approach, Pseudo Likelihood Maximization (PLM) with L1 and L2 regularizations and PLM with decimation. Such inverse problems for network reconstruction are considered on graphs of different kinds, from 2D and 3D nearest-neighbour lattices, Bethe and Erdos-Renyi sparse random graph to dense random graphs.

Facilities and Labs

S.Li.M. Lab @ Roma




CNR Researcher



Associate PostDoc



Associate PostDoc



Associate PostDoc


  1. F Antenucci, Statistical Physics of Wave Interactions,  Springer (2016).
  2. P Tyagi, A Marruzzo, A Pagnani, F Antenucci, L Leuzzi, Regularization and decimation pseudolikelihood approaches to statistical inference in XY-spin models,  Physical Review B 94, 024203 (2016) Doi: 10.1103/PhysRevB.94.024203.
  3. F Antenucci, A Crisanti, M Ibáñez-Berganza, A Marruzzo, L Leuzzi, Statistical mechanics models for multimode lasers and random lasers.  Philosophical Magazine 96, 704-731 (2016) Doi: 10.1080/14786435.2016.1145359.
  4. F Antenucci, MI Berganza, L Leuzzi, Statistical physics of nonlinear wave interaction,  Physical Review B 92, 014204 (2015) Doi: 10.1103/PhysRevB.92.014204 .
  5. P Tyagi, A Pagnani, F Antenucci, M Ibanez Berganza, L Leuzzi, Inference for interacting linear waves in ordered and random media,  Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment 2015 (5), Doi: 10.1088/1742-5468/2015/05/P05031
  6. F Antenucci, A Crisanti, L Leuzzi, Complex spherical 2+ 4 spin glass: A model for nonlinear optics in random media,  Physical Review A 91, 053816 (2015) Doi: 10.1103/PhysRevA.91.053816.
  7. F Antenucci, MI Berganza, L Leuzzi, Statistical physical theory of mode-locking laser generation with a frequency comb.  Physical Review A 91, 043811 (2015) Doi: 10.1103/PhysRevA.91.043811  .
  8. A Marruzzo, L Leuzzi, Nonlinear XY and p-clock models on sparse random graphs: Mode-locking transition of localized waves,  Physical Review B 91, 054201 (2015) Doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.91.054201 .
  9. F Antenucci, C Conti, A Crisanti, L Leuzzi, General phase diagram of multimodal ordered and disordered lasers in closed and open cavities.  Physical Review Letters 114, 043901 (2015) Doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.043901 .
  10. N Ghofraniha, I Viola, F Di Maria, G Barbarella, G Gigli, L Leuzzi, C Conti, Experimental evidence of replica symmetry breaking in random lasers,  Nature communications 6, 5 (2015) Doi:10.1038/ncomms7058 .
  11. F Antenucci, A Crisanti, L Leuzzi, The glassy random laser: replica symmetry breaking in the intensity fluctuations of emission spectra,  Scientific reports 5, 16792 (2015) Doi:10.1038/srep16792 .
  12. F Antenucci, M Ibanez Berganza, L Leuzzi, Statistical mechanical theory of mode-locked multimode lasers in closed cavity: determination of thresholds, spectra, pulse phase delays and pulse correlations.  Phys. Rev. A 91, 043811 (2014) Doi: 10.1103/PhysRevA.91.043811.

Other Selected Publications

  1. V Folli, A Puglisi, L Leuzzi, C Conti, Shaken Granular Lasers,  Physical Review Letters 108, 248002   (2012) Doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.248002.
  2. L Leuzzi, C Conti, V Folli, L Angelani, G Ruocco, Phase Diagram and Complexity of Mode-Locked Lasers: From Order to Disorder,  Physical Review Letters 102, 083901 (2009) Doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.083901 .



Statistical mechanics of disordered granular laser systems: theory and experiment,” funded by the Italian Ministry of Research (MIUR) program futuro in ricerca. (2010-2015),

NETADIS: Networks across disciplines, FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN Project (2011-2015).

Latest News

Costituzione del nuovo Ispc-Cnr

IV incontro - nuovo Istituto di Scienze del Patrimonio Culturale - CNR

Lecce, 20 aprile 2018

Aula Rita Levi Montalcini - ore 11:00

CNR NANOTEC c/o Campus Ecotekne

Per comunicazioni inerenti il processo di riorganizzazione potete scrivere a:

Tutte le informazioni che riguardano gli incontri, compresi gli indirizzi dello streaming, li trovate sul sito

Informazioni logistiche:

Nanotechnology day '18

Nanotechnology day '18

Lecce, 18 aprile 2018

CNR NANOTEC c/o Campus Ecotekne

Torna con un calendario denso di appuntamenti, tra seminari, mostre, dimostrazioni sperimentali, visite ai laboratori, torna  il tradizionale appuntamento con la “Settimana della cultura scientifica”, in programma all'Università del Salento dal 16 al 21 aprile 2018, nato dalle linee guida del progetto ministeriale “Piano Lauree Scientifiche”, al quale l’Ateneo salentino aderisce sin dalla fondazione nel 2003 per i Corsi di Laurea in Fisica e in Matematica.

Oltre millecinquecento studenti attesi dalle scuole superiori di Lecce, Brindisi e Taranto per partecipare agli incontri in programma che si terranno presso le sede del Dipartimento di Matematica e Fisica “Ennio De Giorgi” e il CNR Nanotec.

L’obiettivo della “Settimana della cultura scientifica”, che si aprirà con una giornata interamente dedicata alle Nanotecnologie, è quello di avvicinare i giovani alla Scienza.

Programma completo dell'evento

Loretta del Mercato, si aggiudica l'ERC STARTING GRANT 2017

Loretta del Mercato, si aggiudica  l'ERC STARTING GRANT 2017

uno dei bandi più competitivi a livello europeo.

Lecce, 6 settembre 2017 

Lo European Research Council, che promuove la ricerca di eccellenza in Europa, nei giorni scorsi ha reso noti i nomi dei 406 vincitori della selezione ERC STARTING GRANT 2017, il bando tra i più competitivi a livello internazionale.

Su 3085 progetti presentati, 406 i progetti selezionati a cui sono stati destinati i 605 i milioni di euro di investimento. 48 le nazioni di provenienza dei ricercatori, soltanto 17 gli Italiani che condurranno le loro ricerche nel nostro paese, tra cui Loretta del Mercato, ricercatrice dell'Istituto di Nanotecnologia del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche di Lecce.

Un importante riconoscimento alla ricerca nel settore della medicina di precisione condotta presso il CNR NANOTEC, un indiscusso premio al talento della giovane ricercatrice che, a 38 anni e un contratto a tempo determinato, sarà a capo del progetto "Sensing cell-cell interaction heterogeneity in 3D tumor models: towards precision medicine – INTERCELLMED".

Il progetto, il cui obiettivo è affrontare uno dei problemi più spinosi della ricerca sul cancro, ovvero la difficoltà nel trasformare i risultati delle ricerche scientifiche in applicazioni cliniche per i pazienti e che vedrà coinvolto l'Istituto tumori "Giovanni Paolo II" di Bari, si propone di sviluppare nuovi modelli in vitro 3D di tumore del pancreas, alternativi ai modelli animali, ingegnerizzati con un set di sensori nanotecnologici che consentiranno di monitorare le interazioni delle cellule tumorali con il loro micorambiente, verificare l'appropriatezza delle terapie prima della somministrazione ai pazienti oncologici e quindi prevedere la risposta dei singoli pazienti ad una o più terapie antitumorali.

La realizzazione di queste piattaforme 3D multifunzionali consentirà di superare le evidenti differenze intercorrenti tra "modelli animali" ed esseri umani fornendo dati attendibili ed in tempi più rapidi rispetto ai dati ottenuti tramite lunghi e costosi procedimenti di sperimentazione sugli animali. Le tecnologie e i modelli sviluppati saranno estesi anche ad altre forme di tumori solidi nonché impiegati per studi nell'ambito della ingegneria tissutale e della medicina rigenerativa.

Rassegna stampa e Video