Chaos, disorder and unpredictability are ubiquitous phenomena that pervade our existence and are the result of the never-ending evolution of Nature. The majority of our systems try to avoid these effects, as we commonly assume that chaos diminishes the performance of existing devices. The focus of my research, conversely, is to show that disorder can be used as a building block for a novel, low-cost and scalable technology that outperforms current systems by orders of magnitude.

Andrea Fratalocchi is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Affiliate Professor of  Applied Mathematics and Computational Science (AMCS). He is one of the founders of the Division and Principal Investigator of the Primalight Lab. Fratalocchi has outstanding experience in complex wave systems to engineering material with different degrees of disorder, randomness chaos and unpredictability to achieve high-level functionalities in the new generation of photonic devices and materials. His research advances in energy harvesting, medicine, and material science.  

Education and early career

Fratalocchi holds an M.Sc and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Roma Tre, in 2003 and 2007, respectively. Prior to joining KAUST in 2009, he worked as a Postdoc Research Fellow at Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.

Areas of expertise and current scientific interests

Fratalocchi’s research aims to offer sustainable, high efficient solutions inspired by complexity-based science and evolutionary natural systems. His engineering challenges encompass nanomaterials for concentrated solar power technology, stem generation, and desalinization; solar water splitting and chemical fuel production, carbon negative technologies, artificial intelligent optical neural networks, machine learning nanomaterials for wave control and bio-imagining applications.  

Career recognitions

Professor Fratalocchi has been the recipient of several recognitions and awards. Particularly noteworthy among them are the GCC Enterprise Awards for the Best Electrical Engineer of the Year 2017, the Journal of Optics Outstanding Referee Award, received in 2017, and the Nature Exceptional Referee Award (2015), both of them awarded for the `exceptional and outstanding referee activity' for the journal Nature. In 2015, Professor Fratalocchi entered the Guinness World Records for developing the “Darkest Material Made by Mankind”.

Between 2007 and 2011, Fratalocchi was also the recipient of a Research Center Enrico Fermi, “New Talent” Award, and a KAUST Fellowship Award that granted him 30,000$ and 100,000$, respectively.

Editorial activities

Professor Fratalocchi is currently the Editor of Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group.

Editorial Membership

Editor of Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group

Why Photonics?

Photonics is the science of harnessing light. Light is an abundant source of energy that permeates our planet; it is delivered from free and it can be used for an impressive number of different applications, ranging from ultrafast communications to bio-imaging, energy harvesting, advanced materials engineering and fabrication. Since I joined the first class on this topic during my engineering degree I was fascinated by this subject and the impressive technological possibilities that it offers. 


To be part of a start-up University with great ambitions since its foundation was an important opportunity for my career. The unique concentration of resources, state-of-the-art facilities, core labs, and supercomputers significantly allows doing very high-level research. Thereof, if you have high-risk, high gain ideas, this is indeed the right place to prove yourself.


Awards and Distinctions

  • GCC Enterprise Awards, Best Electrical Engineer of the Year 2017
  • Journal of Optics Outstanding Referee Award, 2017, - Awarded for the `exceptional and outstanding referee activity' for the journal
  • 2015, Guinness World Record for developing the “Darkest Material Made by Mankind”.
  • Nature Exceptional Referee Award (2015) - Awarded for the `exceptional and outstanding referee activity' for the journal Nature
  • “Nano-Optics gets practical”, Early career focus issue on Nature Nanotechnology for ‘the outstanding research on chaotic energy harvesting’ (Nat. Nanotech. 10,11, 2015)
  • European Physics Lett. (EPL) Best Presentation Award (2014) - Awarded to PhD Student J. S. T. Gongora for the work `Superfocusing properties of disordered plasmonic nanolenses'.
  • Nature Exceptional Referee Award (2012) - Awarded for the `exceptional and outstanding referee activity' for the Nature journal Nature Photonics
  • ‘Science in the sand’, interview on Nature Photonics (Nat. Photon. 6, 277-278, 2012).
  • KAUST Fellowship Award (2009-2011) - Awarded 100K USD per year for the research project `SolarPaint', involving the study of new complexity-driven mechanisms for energy harvesting, with emphasis on photovoltaic and thermodynamics solar.
  • Research Center Enrico Fermi, “New Talent” Award (2007-2009) - Awarded 30K USD per year .


Analytic device including nanostructures

Patent number: 10048211

Education Profile

  • ​​​​​​Ph.D. University of Roma Tre, 2007
  • M.S. University of Roma Tre, 2003

Selected Publications

Bonifazi, M., Mazzone, V., & Fratalocchi, A. (2018). X-ray created metamaterials: applications to metal-free structural colors with full chromaticity spectrum and 80 nm spatial resolution. Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics. doi:10.1364/cleo_at.2018.jw2a.115
Bonifazi, M., Tian, Y., & Fratalocchi, A. (2018). Complex epsilon-near-zero metamaterials for broadband light harvesting systems. Physics, Simulation, and Photonic Engineering of Photovoltaic Devices VII. doi:10.1117/12.2289977
Bonifazi, M., Fu, H. C., He, J. H., & Fratalocchi, A. (2017). High performance nanostructured Silicon heterojunction for water splitting on large scales. 2017 Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics Europe & European Quantum Electronics Conference (CLEO/Europe-EQEC). doi:10.1109/cleoe-eqec.2017.8086647
Mazzone, V., Di Falco, A., & Fratalocchi, A. (2017). Ultra-fast secure communication with complex systems in classical channels (Conference Presentation) . Silicon Photonics XII. doi:10.1117/12.2251940
Bonifazi, M., Mazzone, V., & Fratalocchi, A. (2017). Metal free structural colours via disordered nanostructures with nm resolution and full CYMK colour spectrum . Advanced Fabrication Technologies for Micro/Nano Optics and Photonics X. doi:10.1117/12.2251936
Totero Gongora, J. S., Miroshnichenko, A. E., Kivshar, Y. S., & Fratalocchi, A. (2017). Engineering complex nanolasers: from spaser quantum information sources to near-field anapole lasers . Integrated Optics: Devices, Materials, and Technologies XXI. doi:10.1117/12.2249497
Gongora, J. S. T., Miroshnichenko, A. E., Kivshar, Y. S., & Fratalocchi, A. (2016). Nonlinear emission from dark anapole modes and route to all-dielectric metamaterial near-field lasers. Photonics and Fiber Technology 2016 (ACOFT, BGPP, NP). doi:10.1364/np.2016.nt3a.2
Toth, L. D., & Fratalocchi, A. (2013). Light propagation in disordered media: From Maxwell equations to a spherical p-spin model and light condensation effects. 2013 Conference on Lasers & Electro-Optics Europe & International Quantum Electronics Conference CLEO EUROPE/IQEC. doi:10.1109/cleoe-iqec.2013.6801459
Fratalocchi, A., Armaroli, A., & Trillo, S. (2011). Time-reversal focusing of an expanding soliton gas in disordered replicas. Physical Review A, 83(5). doi:10.1103/physreva.83.053846
Fratalocchi, A., & Ruocco, G. (2011). Single-Molecule Imaging with X-Ray Free-Electron Lasers: Dream or Reality? Physical Review Letters, 106(10). doi:10.1103/physrevlett.106.105504
Fratalocchi, A. (2011). Statistical analysis of complex systems with nonclassical invariant measures. Physical Review E, 83(2). doi:10.1103/physreve.83.021116