A research institute of the size of ISTI (more than 200 staff) has to be organized in a structured way. Therefore, the research and development activity of ISTI can be classified, first, into six thematic areas, and then into twelve Research Laboratories, each having a wide scientific autonomy and being coordinated by a recognized leading scientist. The members of the ISTI staff are assigned to one or more of these units.

Research Laboratories are intercommunicating bodies, since dynamic interactions take place among them, giving rise to fruitful cross-fertilization. Several current research projects, funded on external competitive calls, are the result of these inter-lab collaborations and synergies.

Research Laboratories pursue a well-defined set of strongly related scientific objectives. In addition to research, objectives may also cover technology development and training. The teams include permanent staff, visitors, post-doctoral fellows and doctoral students, with an average number of 10 members per Lab.