Andrea Cavalleri

  • Managing Director Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter
  • Professor of Physics (part time): University of Hamburg
  • Professor of Physics (part time): University of Oxford




Condensed Matter Department,
Max Planck Institute for the
Structure and Dynamics of Matter

c/o Desy, Bldg. 99, Rm. 02.079
Luruper Chaussee 149
22761 Hamburg, Germany

Phone: +49 (0)40 8998 5354
Fax: +49 (0)40 8998 1958

Department of Physics
University of Oxford
Clarendon Laboratory
Parks Rd. Oxford, OX1 3PU

Phone: +44 (0) 1865 2 72365
Fax: +44 (0) 1865 2 72367


Andrea Cavalleri was trained in Electrical Engineering and in Laser Physics at the Universities of Pavia (Italy) and Essen (Germany). He received a Laurea Degree (Pavia) and his PhD (Pavia) in 1994 and 1998, respectively.

Between 1998 and 2001 he was a Postdoc at UC San Diego, working with the late K.R. Wilson. In the extraordinary setting of the Wilson group, Cavalleri and co-workers performed the first measurements of atomic-structural dynamics in solids with femtosecond x-rays, which they generated from Terawatt-laser produced plasmas. These experiments pioneered the field of ultrafast structural science, and lead to the first direct detection of coherent phonons and structural phase transitions in the solid state.

Between 2001 and 2005, he was a member of the scientific staff at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he developed nonlinear THz excitation techniques to drive photo-induced phase transitions. Furthermore, he and Bob Schoenlein developed the first scientific applications of sliced pulses of synchrotron radiation. 

For his work on the photo-induced insulator-metal transitions, Cavalleri was awarded the David Shirley Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement at LBNL.

In 2004, Cavalleri received the European Young Investigator Award and joined the faculty of the University of Oxford. He was promoted to Professor of Physics in 2006. As a faculty member at the University of Oxford, Cavalleri further developed his work in the optical control of quantum materials, culminating in the striking demonstration of light induced superconductivity in the striped cuprates.

In 2008 Andrea Cavalleri was appointed to be the first director of the Max Planck Research Department for Structural Dynamics, a pilot project that in 2013 lead to the foundation of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, of which he is currently the managing director.

Many of his most recent scientific contributions have involved the application of X-ray Free Electron Lasers to the study of photo-induced phase transitions. He has used femtosecond x-ray scattering to measure nonlinear lattice dynamics and to reconstruct transient crystal structures at femtosecond resolution (sometimes called molecular movies). He has also made use of the extreme brightness of FELs to measure the dynamics of of spin, charge and orbital-orders in complex oxides. 

Cavalleri is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Institute of Physics. In 2015, he received the Max Born Medal from the DFG and the IoP, as well as the Dannie Heinemann Prize from the Academy of Sciences in Goettingen. Both prizes were awarded to him for his work on photo-induced phase transitions.