Particle irradiation is a powerful tool to induce nanostructures in a variety of materials. It can be used both to investigate the fundamental properties of materials and to modify them in a controlled way for application purposes. Since 1992 we were involved in several irradiation experiments in collaboration with INFN national laboratories. Currently we are involved in the CN5-INFN experiments TERA and ASIDI.

At present we have several experimental lines available (under proposal to INFN laboratories) for irradiation with 0.5-5.5MeV protons and 0.25-4 GeV heavy ions.

In the framework of the experiments leaded by us, we focused on the study of irradiation-induced columnar defects in high-Tc superconductors and we developed a technique for the local control (at the micrometer scale) of irradiation-induced nanostructuring (Heavy-Ion High-Energy lithography – HEHI).

We investigated the role of uncorrelated defects (such as proton induced point-like defects or defects from heavy ions in metallic superconductors) in enhancing the vortex-pinning capability or in modifying intra- and inter-band scattering in multi-band SC as MgB2 and iron-based superconductors.

Another activity in the frame of INFN is the estimation of the radiation hardness of superconducting materials and devices, a needed task for applications in harsh environments (such as space, accelerators or fusion plants).