The Istituto di Struttura della Materia was founded in 1982, with headquarters in Frascati, by Prof. Gianfranco Chiarotti, who directed it until 1988.
Prof. Chiarotti was one of the fathers of Solid State Physics in Italy, for which he represented an international reference point. Under his leadership ISM carried out fundamental research in the field of solid state physics.

In 1997 th Institute moved to the Research Area of Tor Vergata.

From 1989 to 2008 the Institute was directed by Dr. Paolo Perfetti.
During his mandate, further beam lines are developed at Elettra while at the Institute are developed advanced diagnostic techniques for the study of the structural and electronic properties of materials.

From 2008 to 2013 the Institute was directed by Dr. Dino Fiorani.
During his mandate, the integration process between the two components of the Institute and the interdisciplinary nature of research between physics, chemistry and materials science is further developed.

From 2014 to 2019 the Institute is lead by Dr. Lorenzo Avaldi.
During his mandate, the Institute's interest extends to application sectors, such as energy, health, agri-food, aerospace, environment, cultural heritage, sensors and photonic, electronic and magnetic devices, and the creation of device prototypes.

Starting from September 2019 to September 2023 the Institute is directed by Prof. Aldo di Carlo.

Dr. Antonio Cricenti is the interim director.

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