Ass.Prof. Dr. Laerte Patera

Career History

since 09/2022

Assistant Professor, Institute of Physical Chemistry, University of Innsbruck, Austria

2020 - 2022

Principal Investigator, Department of Chemistry, Technical University of Munich, Germany

2016 - 2019

Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics, University of Regensburg, Germany


Visiting  PhD student, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, USA

2013 - 2016

PhD in Nanotechnology, Graduate school in Nanotechnology, University of Trieste, Italy


Graduate research assistant, Institute of Materials (IOM), National Research Council (CNR), Trieste, Italy

2010 - 2012

Master's degree in Physics, University of Milan, Italy

2006 - 2010

Bachelor's degree in Physics, University of Milan, Italy

Main Research Areas

  • 2D-covalent organic frameworks

    Covalent organic frameworks (COFs) are materials formed by the linkage of organic building blocks to create periodic structures with predefined topologies. This peculiar characteristic enables the construction of tailor-made systems for applications in (photo-)catalysis and optoelectronics.
    In our lab, we synthetize atomically thin COFs with tailored structures. Novel approaches for the synthesis of extended crystallites with domain sizes up to several micrometers are currently under development. The formation of extended COFs is achieved through on-surface synthesis, which makes use of atomically flat surfaces as templates to confine polymerization reactions in two dimensions. The 2D-COFs are characterized at the atomic scale by high-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), shedding light onto the reaction pathways leading to the growth of COFs.

  • Imaging excitions in photoactive frameworks

    Excitons are fundamental light-induced excitations, composed of bound electron-hole pairs. While they lie at the heart of photochemistry, their short-lived nature makes their experimental study a real challenge.
    In the context of the recently awarded ERC starting grant (WEPOF), we are working on novel imaging techniques based on scanning probe microscopy to resolve photoexcited states in organic frameworks.

  • Single-site catalysis

    Over the past few years, single-site catalysts have attracted special attention in the field of heterogeneous catalysis, due to their unique chemical activity and selectivity.
    By combining scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and near-ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (NAP-XPS), we study the mechanisms governing single-site catalyzed polymerization in model systems under realistic reaction conditions.

Grants and Awards








ERC Starting Grant

Individual Research Grant, German Research Foundation, Germany

Gustav-Hertz Prize, German Physical Society, Germany

NEST Prize 2019, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and NEST Laboratory, Italy

Best Ph.D. Career Award, University of Trieste, Italy

Fernando Tommasini Award, University of Trieste, Italy

Graduate Scholarship,  AREA Science Park, Trieste, Italy

Current Funded Research Project
ERC Grant

ERC Starting grant: "Watching excitons in photoactive organic frameworks" (WEPOF)
Duration: 1/2022–8/2027;
European Research Council

Marco Thaler and Laerte Patera representing the research at the physical department for the new image film "Chemie-Studium in Innsbruck" (1:30 min)

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