The MOSE laboratory is active within the Department of Engineering and Architecture (DEA) since 1995 and deals with theory, simulation, modeling, and experiment in the areas of materials and life science.
Molecular modeling in the field of life sciences including techniques and methods for drug design, for virus inhibition and development of new molecular assembly for the bioscience, the development of new drugs, the understanding of physical chemistry and thermodynamics in physiological processes.
Multiscale molecular modeling in the field of material science, spanning from quantum mechanics to micro finite elements. Message passing integrated techniques allow the determination of binding energies at atomistic level (MD and MC) and mesoscale structures at nanoscale level.
People and Contacts:
Nature performs catalytic reactions for the synthesis of energy vectors and organic compounds by exploiting nano-sized or single-atom photosystem and enzymatic catalytic centers, where metals (Mn, Cu, Ni, Fe…) are supported by C, S, or N linkers. Our research is focused on heterogeneous catalytic reaction mechanisms, investigated at the atomic level detail from UHV to near-ambient pressure conditions, occurring at single crystals, nanostructured surfaces, and model catalysts, with an extension to the electro-catalytic environment. The chemical, electronic, and structural properties are studied experimentally by means of surface science approaches, synchrotron radiation spectroscopies, and in situ and operando IR-Vis Sum-Frequency generation vibronic spectroscopy as implemented in the facility hosted by our lab. Fostering external collaborations, the group exploits ab initio simulations within the framework of Density Functional Theory to yield insight and proper interpretation of the experimental results.
People and Contacts:
Research on low density systems focuses on the spectroscopy and dynamics of atoms, molecules and clusters, as well as on the radiation-matter interaction. Investigations aim at the systematic acquisition of information on the electronic structure, reactivity, and chemical-physical behavior of target systems of technological interest and increasing complexity, spanning from organic molecules to metal and metal-oxide clusters. Our scientific goals respond to the fundamental need for reliable and in-depth data on the electronic properties of building blocks of nanomaterials. On the one side our research sheds lights on energy and charge transfer processes of target species suitable for applications in applied research, such as photonics and photocatalysis; on the other it can provide inspiration for the development of novel materials. The experimental activity is carried out at the Elettra Synchrotron radiation laboratory (Trieste, Elettra), principally at the beamline GasPhase of Elettra and Low Density Matter (LDM) of the FERMI Free Electron Laser.
People and Contacts:
We are an experimental research group investigating the structural and electronic properties of solid surfaces down to the atomic scale, with specific interest in describing their evolution during surface processes (e.g. bond formation, growth, chemical reactions). In particular, our current research activities focus on graphene growth and properties, organic heterostructures, and catalytic processes. Our laboratory hosts a Variable Temperature (VT-STM) and a Low Temperature (LT-STM) Scanning Tunneling Microscope, capable of characterizing both structural and electronic modifications at the atomic scale in a wide temperature range and with the possibility of fast acquisition to obtain STM movies. Complementary conventional or synchrotron radiation spectroscopic measurements are also performed. Experimental results are often compared to ab-initio calculations performed by collaborating theoretical groups.
The Nanochemistry Lab is active within the Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the research is focused on the understanding of the properties of nanomaterials in order to tune their features and to unravel rules to design nanomaterials with the properties and functional activity required to elicit specific performance. The research in this field is mainly based on the use of monolayer protected gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) as prototypes. In the last years we exploited mixed monolayers composed of mixtures of fluorinated and hydrogenated ligands in order to control the morphology and the surface properties of the nanoparticles. Moreover, we study Au NPs protected by fluorinated monolayers as drug carriers and as 19F MRI contrast agents.
Prof. Francesco Stellacci, EPFL; Proff. Marco Lucarini, Luca Prodi e Nelsi Zaccheroni, Univ. di Bologna; Proff. Paolo Fornasiero, Maurizio Fermeglia, Sabrina Pricl, Paola Posocco, Maurizio Prato, Univ. Trieste.
Tissue engineering of nanostructured biological systems for guided bone regeneration
This project aims to the development of a nanostructured biological system for bone regeneration procedures. The system is composed of (i) a biodegradable membrane, endowed with biological signals and antibacterial properties, and (ii) human stem cells. The polymeric based membranes are obtained via electrospinning (ELS). ELS is an emerging technique that allows the preparation of nonwoven fibrous porous membranes with fibers diameters in the range of the nano-scale. These constructs are very promising for tissue engineering purposes thanks to their nanostructure that can precisely mimic the native extracellular matrices. Human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) extracted from vital tissues are cultured and seeded on the aforementioned membranes. The coupling of membrane and cells allows the production of a biological system in which the cells, if properly stimulated, can specifically differentiate.
Roberto Di Lenarda
Active biomaterials for dental applications
The primary purpose of this project is the development and characterization of new dental materials that combine high mechanical performaces with antibacterial properties. This latter feature is highly desired in order to prevent the attack of pathogenic agents which may compromise dental restorations. In contemporary conservative dentistry, highly cured di-methacrylate resins are the material of choice for the optimal adhesion to the native dental substrates. In this context, new mono and di-methacrylate monomers bearing one or more quaternary ammonium moieties (QAMs) are developed. Quaternary ammonium functionality demonstrated a good inhibitory activity against endogenous matrix metal-proteinases (MMPs). These enzimes are the primary contributors to the progressive degradation of nanoscopic collagen fibrils present in the hybrid layer created by dentin and adhesives during dental restorations. One of the primary objectives of this research is therefore the development of materials with increasingly refined features such as: excellent mechanical performances, effective bonding capacity, biocompatibility, antibacterial activity and low cytotoxicity. The evaluation of the chemical-physical and mechanical properties of biopolymers prepared from experimental and commercial resins containing different percentages of the new monomers is under investigation, as well as the study of the structure-activity relationship.
Fundamental issues about the interaction between nanomaterials and biological systems (“nano-bio interface”) are examined, along with the development of applications based on nanotechnology for clinical and energy-related issues. In the biomedical arena, the research activity aims at studying the interaction between complex biological systems such as biofluids (in particular blood, serum, urine, saliva as well as lysates of biological cells) and metal nanostructures (i.e. nanoparticles, nanopillars), by using SERS, a surface spectroscopy well known for its analytical applications.
In our lab we have developed a portfolio of colloidal synthetic routes for creating a variety of complex 0-D nanostructures, and use them as building blocks for creating new nanostructured materials with engineered optical and electronic properties. Some of the nanostructures are used in applications where their individual properties are exploited (e.g. metal or hybrid nanoparticles for SERS substrates; quantum dots embedded in a polymer matrix to create luminescent filters). A more intriguing approach is to exploit emerging collective properties in ensembles and assemblies, where the 0-D nanostructures interact and give rise to new, interesting, and useful material characteristics. These research activities are conducted within the framework of naME Lab, the laboratory of nanoMaterials & Energy of the Department of Engineering and Architecture of the University of Trieste. The scope of naME Lab ranges from the experimental investigation of nanomaterials for energy applications to the modeling and techno-economic analysis of energy systems, with a special focus on the study of materials and systems for photovoltaics.
Application of Advanced Nanotechnology in the Development of Innovative Cancer Diagnostic Tools and Drug Delivery
The research activities concern the development of nano-drugs with a specific selectivity for tumor cells and the development and application of innovative diagnostic tools for monitoring cancer drugs and tumor circulating biomarkers in biological liquids of patients. The principal goal of the program is to design and to implement novel devices for(early) cancer diagnosis, prevention and therapy evaluation. This investigator-translational research, aims to deliver nanotechnology-based Point of Care Testing (POCT) tools and to develop three-stage nanodrugs constituted by: 1. biological component, 2. nanomaterials and 3. antineoplastic drugs. The program is multi-disciplinary in its nature, extends from lab to clinic, and is executed by both basic scientists and clinicians. The research activity is granted by AIRC, FIRB/MIUR, Horizon2020, Ricerca Finalizzata and involves Italian and International Institutions.
In normal physiology, cells generate and sustain mechanical forces. They are active materials that can detect mechanical stimulation by the activation of mechanosensitive pathways and react to physical signals through cytoskeletal re-organization and force generation. Genetic mutations and pathogens that disrupt the cytoskeletal architecture can result in changes to cell mechanical properties such as elasticity, adhesiveness, and viscosity. These transformations are often a hallmark and symptom of a variety of pathologies. Consequently, there is a need for experimental techniques and theoretical models adapted from soft matter physics and materials engineering to characterize cell mechanical properties.
The MEE Lab is active within the Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the research is focused on inorganic chemistry, with attention to the design and development of multi-functional metal-oxide nano-systems for their advanced applications in energy related material science and environmental heterogeneous catalysis. Specifically, the aim of the Lab is to contribute to design innovative nanomaterials for solar fuel production, for CO2 reduction, for sustainable H2O2 production by means of metal free electro- and photo-electro catalysts and for catalytic abatement of pollutants, including the greenhouse gas methane.