Theoretical physicist active on a wide range of phenomena in condensed matter systems. Past work covering layer compounds, excitons in semiconductors and insulators, plasmon and phonon calculations, local field effects in screening , surface phase transitions (reconstructions, melting, roughening), properties of nanoclusters and metal nanowires, ultrahigh pressure physics, quantum annealing, Mott insulator state and superconductivity in fullerides, Kondo effects in nanomagnetic contacts, friction theory and simulation. He created and directed for about 30 years the condensed matter theory group at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, Italy, where important advances were realized, and where he raised a large number of students. Working since 1977 at Trieste’s Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), a United Nations institution which he also directed in 2002-2003, Tosatti provided and still provides support and mentorship to colleague scientists in emerging countries, work for which he was also awarded the 2005 AIP Tate Medal for International Leadership in Physics. He is a member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Research Interests

1. Theory and simulations of nanomechanical friction -- including electronic and magnetic dissipation. Results and insights also illustrate the principle that nanofriction and nanomechanical dissipation represent a "spectroscopic tool for the blind" revealing underlying physical phenomena inside the sliders. 2. Metallic nanocontacts have unusual structural, mechanical and electronic properties, such as ballistic electrical conductance, ruled by coherent quantum mechanics. Kondo effects of bridging magnetic impurities bridging nonmagnetic contacts can be predicted and quantitatively understood. 3. Mott insulators and conductors are obtained by doping fullerene and other molecular insulators with alkali atoms. Superconductivity arising in these systems is generally strongly correlated and is different from BCS. Recent data on the fulleride Cs3C60 validated this prediction. 4.Strong correlations and phase transitions at semiconductors surfaces with narrow two-dimensional electronic bands that can be Mott insulating at integer filling, becoming strongly correlated superconductors upon doping. We proposed that for Sn/Si(111) at one third coverage, now realized experimentally. 5. The state of matter at megabar pressures is unpredictable by common chemical wisdom. Experiments are difficult and costly, whereas calculations and simulations are if anything easier at higher pressures. Many exciting properties such as the superionicity of water have been predicted in this way, and the list is continuing.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 33: Applied Physical Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 13: Physics