Istituto di Cristallografia - CNR

Capitelli Francesco


Francesco Capitelli graduated in 1996 in geological sciences, by discussing a thesis in petrology. In 2000 he obtained PhD title in agronomical chemistry, focused on the application of LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) technique to the detection of heavy metals in soils. Since 2001 he works as researcher at Institute of Crystallography (IC). His main scientific activity at IC is framed along the conceptual line geomaterials-biomaterials.

Geomaterials, in particular in their meaning of minerals retrieved in the geological context and synthetical minerals which present chemical-physical-mechanical features similar to those of natural compounds, become important in the context of italian geological panorama, thinking to phosphates (e.g. apatite) [1-2], silicates, or rare earth-borates [3]. Their crystal-chemical characterization is achieved through the application of X-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman and FTIR spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). From the knowledge of these geomaterials it is possible to realize synthetical compounds that, owing to the several possible chemical substitutions, are requested for applications in several technological fields: for example the several apatite-based materials, employed in agriculture as nano-fertilizer, or in the environment, being good filters for the water purification, or in the nuclear, for the storage of radioactive wastes, up to cultural heritage, where they make up excellent films applied to stony monuments to prevent weathering effects.

Biomaterials such as hydroxyapatite [4-5] and tricalcium phosphate (TCP) [6-7] represent synthetic counterparts of materials present in Nature, and they are much appreciated because of their similarities with mineral fraction of vertebrates hard tissues, e.g. bones and teeth. Owing to their crystal-chemical features which give rise to many possible cationic and anionic substitutions, together to their well-known biocompatibility, the structural investigation of calcium phosphates (carried out via XRD, FTIR, and SEM techniques) lead to the design and production of a large class of biomaterials appreciated in biomedical sciences, as cements used in bone defects reconstruction in orthopedics and dentistry, as nano-carriers in personalized medicine, as phosphor materials for optical imaging, as materials employed in dosimetric applications.

[1] Rossi M., Ghiara M.R., Chita G., Capitelli F. Crystal-chemical and structural characterization of fluorapatites in ejecta from Somma-Vesuvius volcanic complex. American Mineralogist 96 (2011) 1828-1837.

[2] Capitelli F., Bosi F., Capelli S., Radica F., Della Ventura G. Neutron and XRD single-crystal diffraction study and vibrational properties of whitlockite, the natural counterpart of synthetic tricalcium phosphate. Crystals 11 (2021) 225.

[3] Capitelli F., Chita G., Leonyuk N.I., Koporulina E.V., Bellatreccia F., Della Ventura G. REEAl07(B4O10)O0.60 dimetaborates (REE = La, Pr); synthesis and X-ray structural characterization. Zeitschrift für Kristallographie 226 (2011) 219-225.

[4] Baldassarre F., Altomare A., Corriero N., Mesto E., Lacalamita M., Bruno G., Sacchetti A., Dida B., Karaj D., Della Ventura G., Capitelli, F., Siliqi, D. Crystal Chemistry and Luminescence Properties of Eu-Doped Polycrystalline Hydroxyapatite Synthesized by Chemical Precipitation at Room Temperature. Crystals 10 (2020) 250.

[5] Cancelliere R., Rea G., Micheli L., Mantegazza P., Bauer E.M., El Khouri A., Tempesta E., Altomare A., Capelli D., Capitelli F. Electrochemical and Structural Characterization of Lanthanum-Doped Hydroxyapatite: A promising Material for Sensing Applications. Materials 16 (2023) 4522.

[6] El Khouri A., Elaatmani M., Della Ventura G., Sodo A., Rizzi R., Rossi M., Capitelli F. Synthesis, structure refinement and vibrational spectroscopy of new rare-earth tricalcium phosphates Ca9RE(PO4)7 (RE = La, Pr, Nd, Eu, Gd, Dy, Tm, Yb). Ceramics International 43 (2017) 15645-15653.

[7] Paterlini V., El Khouri A., Bettinelli M., Trucchi D.M., Capitelli F. Spectroscopic and Structural Properties of beta-Tricalcium Phosphates Ca9RE(PO4)7 (RE = Nd, Gd, Dy). Crystals 11 (2021) 1269.

Geomaterials; Biomaterials

Crystallography; Mineralogy; Inorganic Chemistry.

X-ray diffraction (XRD); Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR); Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive System (SEM-EDS)

L’inclusione riguarda anche i minerali (12/04/2022)

Insieme a Francesco Capitelli, ricercatore dell’Istituto di Cristallografia del CNR, capiamo perché è importante studiare l’apatite, minerale presente come inclusione non solo in rocce e meteoriti ma anche nelle nostre ossa e che ha importanti applicazioni in vari settori della scienza, dalla geologia al campo biomedico.

See Almanacco della Scienza – CNR –

Imparare dai meteoriti per migliorare le protesi ossee (08/04/2021)
Uno studio dell’Istituto di cristallografia del Cnr in collaborazione con le università Sapienza e Roma Tre e con l’ISIS Neutron and Muon Source (UK), ha permesso di ottenere la prima caratterizzazione completa della whitlockite, un minerale presente anche nei meteoriti. I risultati contribuiranno ad ottenere materiali più performanti per utilizzo biomedicale. Lo studio è pubblicato su Crystals.   Comunicato Stampa CNR – see

Best Paper Award (Sciforum-037926) (10/01/2020)
Best Paper Award (Sciforum-037926) at:
The 2nd International Online Conference on Crystals (

Influence of Intramineral Proteins on the Growth of Carbonate Crystals Using as a Scaffold Membranes of Ratite Birds and Crocodiles Eggshells

Elejalde-Cadena, Nerith R.;Hernandez, Denisse; Capitelli, Francesco; Islas, Selene R.; Rosales-Hoz, Maria J.; Zema, Michele; Tarantino, Serena C.; Siliqi, Dritan* and Moreno, Abel*

Membranes (Basel) (2023) [IF=4.200]

Electrochemical and Structural Characterization of Lanthanum-Doped Hydroxyapatite: A Promising Material for Sensing Applications

Cancelliere, R. 1; Rea, G. 2; Micheli, L. 1; Mantegazza, P. 1; Bauer, E.M. 3; El Khouri, A. 4; Tempesta, E. 5; Altomare, A. 6; Capelli, D. 6; Capitelli, F. 6

Materials (Basel) (2023) [IF=3.400]

Structural Characterization of Low-Sr-Doped Hydroxyapatite Obtained by Solid-State Synthesis

Francesco Baldassarre, Angela Altomare, Ernesto Mesto, Maria Lacalamita, Bujar Dida, Altin Mele, Elvira Maria Bauer, Massimo Puzone, Emanuela Tempesta, Davide Capelli, Dritan Siliqi, Francesco Capitelli

Crystals (Basel) (2023) [IF=2.700]

A Comprehensive Study of Ca9Tb(PO4)7 and Ca9Ho(PO4)7 Doped ?-Tricalcium Phosphates: Ab initio Crystal Structure Solution, Rietveld Analysis, and Dielectric Properties

Rosanna Rizzi (1), Francesco Capitelli (29, Bogdan I. Lazoryak (3), Vladimir A. Morozov (3), Fabio Piccinelli (4), Angela Altomare (1)

Crystal growth & design (Online) (2021) [IF=4.076]

Neutron and XRD Single-Crystal Diffraction Study and Vibrational Properties of Whitlockite, the Natural Counterpart of Synthetic Tricalcium Phosphate

Francesco Capitelli 1; Ferdinando Bosi 2; Silvia C. Capelli 3; Francesco Radica 4-5; Giancarlo Della Ventura 4-5-6-

Crystals (Basel) (2021) [IF=2.700]

Spectroscopic and Structural Properties of ?-Tricalcium Phosphates Ca9RE(PO4)7 (RE = Nd, Gd, Dy).

Veronica Paterlini [1,2], Asmaa El Khouri [3], Marco Bettinelli [1], Daniele Maria Trucchi [4] and Francesco Capitelli [5]

Crystals (Basel) (2021) [IF=2.700]

A new carbon-rich ureilite from Morocco

Ibhi A.; Khiri F.; Ouknine L.; Ait Touchnt A.; Capitelli F.; De Pascale O.; Senesi G.S.

Atti della Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. Rendiconti Lincei. Scienze fisiche e naturali (Online) (2021)