MOF Lab Research

Our research interests reside at the interface of synthetic organic chemistry, functional materials and chemical biology. The key goals are to synthetize innovative dyes, fluorophores, functional small molecules  and apply them in energy production devices, bioimaging and theranostics applications. 


Solar Cells & Energy

We are currently studying different organic functional materials as: (i) NIR-absorbing sensitizers for transparent solar cells (ii) Squaraine-based dyes for aqueous Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells; (iii) Small Molecules and related polymers as Hole Transporting Material in Perovskite Solar Cells;(iv) Metal (Cu, Fe, Co) complexes for solar cells and catalysis; (v) Metal Organic Frameworks and Covalent Organic Frameworks for energy application; (vi) polymeric materials and composites as encapsulant for emerging photovoltaic devices; (vii) fluorescent molecules for new generation Light Emitting Electrochemical Cells.

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Functional Polymers for 3D Printing


3D printing is an innovative technique that allows the creation of objects and products with complex shapes, hard to be obtained by the traditional production methods at a reduced price and low materials consumption. Our attention is focused on the synthesis of smart functional polymers that can reversibly tune their mechanical and chemical properties in response to external stimuli such light. On top of that we investigate the use of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) for thermoplastic polymer and of Digital Light Processing (DLP) for printing thermoset plastics.


Surfactants & Green Chemistry


Our goal is to study and develop Green Chemistry protocols to prepare dyes and functional organic small molecules while lowering the amount of common organic solvents extensively used in the traditional synthetic protocols. Among various alternatives, surfactants and their unique properties in aqueous solution are ideal to replace organic solvents in organic synthesis. Therefore, we are exploring two complementary research lines. The former focuses on the isolation, characterization and application of natural origin surfactants in synthetic procedures, while the latter is addressed on the investigation of Pd-catalyzed reactions in micellar environment. We are currently focusing on several surfactants applications covering gene delivery, synthesis of Hole Transporting Materials and kinetics investigation phosphoric esters hydrolysis.


Innovation for the Circular Economy


Circular Economy is conceptualized in contrast with the present linear economy. Its main subject is the resource management designing out negative externalities. Our approach involves the investigation of innovative materials and/or process aiming at achieve the best trade off between efficiency and environmental and societal respect. Our research areas mainly deal with materials for photovoltaics and plastic recycling to  achieve a more sustainable renewable energy and a better management of plastic waste, respectively.


Photodynamic Therapy


Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a minimally invasive treatment a variety of diseases including psoriasis and skin cancer. PDT final goal is to locally induce oxidative damage to target cell by combining the effect of light irradiation with a photosensitizer able to generate reactive singlet oxygen. Near Infrared Dyes like penatmethine and heptamethine cyanines and squaraines are ideal candidates due to their red-shifted absorption spectra and high molar absorptivity.


Emissive Nucleoside and Derivatives


Nucleic Acids are the core of living system. Understanding how DNA, RNA and nucleobase derivates operate inside the cells is crucial in biological and medicinal chemistry. Biocompatible emissive nucleobases allow to shed light on biomolecular structures as well as on enzymatic pathways without interfering  or hampering specific events and/or interactions. The nucleobases core is biologically present not only on the nucleic acids but is found in many enzymatic cofactors or secondary messengers that plays key-role in countless numbers of biological processes. The preparation and the investigation of emissive analogs is off importance to provide tools for deeper understanding of structural motives, specific supramolecular interactions, preferential pathways in the chemical biology and medicinal chemistry fields.


Bilayer Membrane Probes

The cell membrane properties change rapidly over time and have remarkable effects on various phenomena like the interaction with membranes proteins, the regulation of the ion channels activity. Cell membranes is a dynamic non-homogenous systems more complex than how it is usually depicted. Many different processes are regulated by the membrane fluidity, potential or by the presence of transient microdomains. Shed light and visualize how the lipids bilayers are organized and behave over time is crucial in many aspects of biology and medicinal chemistry.  The design and synthesis of smart fluorophores, able to respond to environmental variations, is off importance to better understand these bio-supramolecular constructs and their dynamics.