Arnaldo D’Amico was born in Bologna March 16th, 1940 and dead in Rome November 11th, 2020.
His education was oriented, since the high school, towards technical studies.
After the school he began to work at the National Petrol Company as electronic technician to support natural gas search in Padania valley.
This career was unexpectedly halted by a football accident which left him unable to cope with the physical stress demanded by the on-field activities. This accident changed his life, he left the Petrol company, moved to Rome and enrolled to the University course in Physics.
In 1966 he got the master degree (Laurea) in Physics. It is worth to mention that before the mid-eighties, doctorate courses were not activated in Italy and the Laurea was the highest academic degree.
After the Laurea he worked at the ESRIN laboratory in Frascati, now part of European Space Agency, to develop position sensitive detectors for space applications.
During this time he grown an interest in electronics, so deep that he left ESRIN and decided to study Electronic Engineering. In 1972 he got his second Laurea, in Electronic Engineering, from the University of Rome La Sapienza. His thesis work was one of the first examples of liquid crystal display in Italy.
In 1972 he was appointed as Researcher at the Institute of Solid State Electronics of the National Research Council (CNR). Where he led the semiconductor group.
In 1980 he had the chance to spend a year with Jay Zemel at the University of Pennsylvania. This was is first introduction to chemical sensors, which since that have since his main research topic .
One of its first interests was the development of the Palladium-FET sensor discovered few years before by Ingemar Lundström. His first paper on chemical sensors, in 1981, was about a Palladium-Silicon Schottky diode as hydrogen sensor.
The next year, again using Palladium as sensitive material, he developed a Surface Acoustic Wave hydrogen sensor.
These first papers demonstrate a clear understanding that the properties of sensors emerge as a optimized combination of chemistry, physics and electronics. Such interdisciplinary approach is probably the most distinctive character of its whole scientific life.
A major change in his career occurred when he moved from the National Research Council to the University. In 1986 he was appointed full Professor of electronics at the University of L’Aquila.
Teaching was a natural complement to his scientific research. The deep knowledge of fundamental physics and electronics provided him with the background to develop an original approach to teach electronics and electronic devices.
In 1990 D’Amico moved to the Department of Electronic Engineering at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. Here he found a fertile environment to pursue the interdisciplinarity establishing a research group formed by researchers at the Department of Electronic Engineering and at the Department of Chemical Science and Technology.
This group was characterized by the development of porphyrins based chemical sensors and by their applications as artificial olfaction systems. These sensors were applied to several field not least to design electronic noses to control the air quality inside the international space station.
Among the applications of artificial olfaction it is important to mention medical diagnosis. He produced the first paper documenting the feasibility of lung cancer diagnosis with an array of chemical sensors. Since that, the interest in human volatilome has been a staple of his scientific work.
In addition to the research work, and just because of its research work, D’Amico has always been very active in promoting the research on sensors. In 1989 he led the first large national project on sensors, prompting the establishment of several research groups that are still active today. In 1996 he founded the Italian Association of Sensors and Microsystem (AISEM) for which he served as Chairman until 2012.
He has been at the core of many major international initiatives in the field of sensors. With an active role in conferences such as the Transducers, Eurosensors and the International Meeting on Chemical Sensors. Furthermore, D’Amico has been a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Sensors and Actuators since the first issue.
He had a special connection with Eurosensors, besides to bring the conference twice in Rome, in 1991 and 2004. He has been member of the steering committee, and served as Chairman from 1999 to 2004.
In the frame of Eurosensors, Since the 1999 conference, in The Hague, he directed (with L. Sarro) the Eurosensors school: a pre-conference event aimed at offering the opportunity to young researchers to be introduced to specific aspects of sensors science. He was still cooperating with the organizing team of Eurosensors 2020 to prepare the school programme.
In 2011 at the 25th Eurosensors conference, the Eurosensors steering committee awarded him with a special 25th Anniversary Award.
He was very happy that the award was given in Athens where he had a chance to visit the Parthenon one of the examples of the connection between golden ratio, Fibonacci series and architecture. He was an avid scholar of Fibonacci series. He was capable to see even in the cold and somewhat unattractive electric ladder networks the same harmonies that are at the basis of Greek temples and renaissance masterworks. His lectures about the relationship between Fibonacci series, golden mean and electronics were a “must” to be attended.