Chemistry for Innovative Materials
The design, synthesis, advanced characterization and computational study of materials carried out by CNR-ICCOM are applied in different sectors of chemistry and physics, with strong interactions and synergies with other thematic areas, such as chemistry for energy, green chemistry and sustainable processes, chemistry for health and life sciences and the conservation of cultural heritage, thanks to the extensive experimental and theoretical skills available. The main classes of materials studied include heterogeneous catalysts and nanoparticles, polymer-based materials and their micro and nanocomposites, possibly functionalized 2D materials and their polymeric nanocomposites, Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs). The various systems are obtained through synthesis approaches and post-polymerization modification reactions, and characterized by spectroscopic methods (FT-IR, UV-vis, fluorescence spectroscopy, NMR, EPR, Raman) of microscopy (SEM, TEM), techniques able to provide information about thermal, mechanical and functional performances (DSC, TGA, OIT, dynamometer) and predictive theoretical and computational calculation.
In the field of Chemistry for Energy , the activities mainly concern:
- Development of new generation organic photovoltaic materials;
- Nanostructured materials for use in electrodes for electrochemical devices, electrolysers, fuel cells;
- Molecular and nanostructured catalysts, homogeneous and heterogeneous, for the production of hydrogen from various processes, including water splitting, and their advanced characterization through spectroscopic methods, microscopy and study of the properties through predictive theoretical calculations;
- New generation nanostructured adsorbent materials (MOF, SAPO, composite materials) for thermal storage and for heat pump systems.
In the field of Chemistry for Sustainable Processes, the study of materials includes:
- Materials for sustainable, highly efficient and selective catalytic methanation and methanolation processes;
- Solvent mixtures and porous materials (MOFs) for the capture of carbon dioxide (CCS) and its conversion into high value added chemicals (CCU);
- Catalytic materials for the electrochemical or photochemical reduction of CO2 and the purification of natural gases from H2S;
- New theoretical-computational methods of “high-throughput screening” to predict new catalysts capable of operating in conditions of temperature and pressure drastically reduced compared to those currently used;
- New 2D phosphorus-based materials;
- Bimetallic catalysts for the efficient conversion of organic substrates through oxidative processes;
- Development of chemical vapor generation (CVG) methodologies for the preparation of nanomaterials;
Research on advanced materials for applications in Life Sciences includes, among other things:
- Development of 2D phosphorus-based anticancer materials;
- Study by multinuclear SSNMR of hydroxyapatite synthesized via sol-gel, in the absence and in the presence of graphene oxide, as an inorganic part of an injectable therapeutic system;
- Synthesis and study of hybrid magneto-plasmonic systems based on ferrite and noble metals, such as magnetite or mixed ferrites or core / shell as multifunctional or theranostic diagnostic agents;
- Development of functionalized magnetite nanoparticles for application as contrast agents for MRI and for combined hadron / hyperthermia therapy.
In the field of synthesis and characterization of innovative polymer-based materials and their micro- and nano-composites, the skills ( Pisa Secondary Site ) include:
- Controlled introduction of functional groups on polymer chains (bio- and oil-derived) by post-polymerization modification to obtain coupling agents used in the packaging, automotive and construction industries;
- Functionalization / activation of polymeric surfaces by photoirradiation or cold plasma, for the modification of the surface properties of polymeric films, micro and nanospheres, laminates and substrates in non-woven fabrics;
- Preparation and characterization of 2D inorganic systems modified with functional agents such as chromophores, antibacterial, antiviral and / or antioxidant molecules (also derived from biomass) to obtain functional host-guest systems; dispersion of bulk hybrids of polymers and deposition on polymeric surfaces to obtain materials with application in the active-food-packaging, cosmetics, and health care sectors;
- Decoring of 2D-bP with organic dyes and polymeric materials for applications in the field of optolectronics.
Other materials and applications include:
- Controlled and reproducible synthesis of hard / soft nanoheterostructures with core-shell or heterodimeric geometry;
- Coupling strategies of soft and hard magnetic materials produced on a large scale.
The important skills of spectroscopic characterization of materials (Pisa Secondary Site) are applied to problems such as:
- Solid state NMR study (ssNMR) of cements based on magnesium phosphates, in the presence of various additives;
- Use of Electronic Magnetic Resonance (EPR) and Nuclear (NMR) spectroscopy and NMR relaxometry methods to characterize interest in applications in the technological or biomedical fields;
- Study of the vulcanization conditions and the addition of reinforcers (silica and carbon black) on the dynamic properties of elastomers of interest to the tire industry;
- Study of the efficiency of polyamidoamines as flame retardants on cotton fabrics;
- Characterization of polymeric microfibers produced by electrospinning process doped with adsorbent materials (SAPO34 zeolites or silica gel) for “power to heat” thermal storage applications;
- Characterization by FTIR, Raman and NMR techniques of ionic liquid samples to be used in thermal storage systems, subjected to a high temperature aging treatment and in contact with different metal substrates (steel, copper, brass);
- Spectroscopic characterization of polymeric materials in the form of films, solutions and powders, of pigments subjected to aging processes and of PAN-based carbon fibers in the various processing steps.
Extensive skills in non-linear spectroscopy also applied to materials, together with study techniques under high pressure conditions, are guaranteed by CNR-ICCOM researchers based at LENS-University of Florence.