Colloidal inorganic nanocrystals are among the most exploited nanomaterials to date due to their extreme versatility. Today, a rational synthetic approach to nanocrystals is of utmost importance due to the growing demand for nanomaterials having compositional diversity and that are engineered in shape, morphology and surface functionality such that they possess well-defined optical, electronic, magnetic, and catalytic features, for use in the most disparate fields of science and technology.
Our group targets many aspects of fundamental research in nanocrystals, ranging from the advanced synthesis, to the assembly and the study of chemical and structural transformations in nanomaterials. The applications are the focus of our research and span many disparate fields, including catalysis, energy storage, optoelectronics, and lighting. In collaboration with other groups at IIT, we develop applications in biomedicine (for example laser hyperthermia), for photodetection, and removal of heavy metals from contaminated fluids.
Our research focuses on the design and development of objects with desired optoelectronic functionalities, starting from the self-assembly of nanoparticles. We implement strategies for the manipulation of such brick-like structures to generate components for their further implementation in devices. The experimental tactics involve interfacial self-assembly, controlled evaporation, and integration of particles with polymers. The resulting components are fully investigated in situ and ex situ to gain insight into the interactions between nanoparticles and their collective properties.
Our research activity utilizes a set of custom-made tools for preparing self-assembled membranes, 3D objects and integrating them in polymer films. The design principles are guided by the detailed knowledge about the ligands capping the individual nanoparticles, the nanoparticle shapes, solvent evaporation rates, and other parameters. The research is strongly supported by the Electron Microscopy and Materials Characterization facilities at the IIT, and collaborations both internal and worldwide. Typical characterizations include in situ optomechanical studies of solid samples, in situ electron microscopy analysis of liquid samples, and temperature-dependent photoluminescence measurements (4-500 K).
- Advanced Photonics Laboratories (Dr. Daniele Sanvitto, senior researcher), CNR NANOTEC, Lecce, Italy
- Istituto di Cristallografia, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Dr. Cinzia Giannini, team leader). Bari, Italy
- Physical Chemistry Department. Dresden University (Prof. Vladimir Lesnyak). Dresden, Germany
- Institute for Theoretical Physics. University of Utrecht (Dr. Joost de Graaf). Utrecht, the Netherland
2018-2020, "Routing Energy Transfer via Assembly of Inorganic Nanoplatelets," MSCA-IF-EF-ST, funded under H2020-EU.1.3.2. - Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility. Total cost EUR 168 277,20, PI Dmitry Baranov
2018-2019, “Investigating the Structure Tunability of Perovskite Superlattices via In Situ Transmission Electron Microscopy”. User facility project 5357. Molecular Foundry/II, PI Milena Arciniegas
2016-2020, “In situ Investigation of Self-Assembled Nanocrystals via coupled GISAXs/GIWAXs”. Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncrotron – LNLS. Campinas, Brazil, PI Milena Arciniegas
The research focuses on the study of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals surfaces in many different environments: binding ligands, solvents, films, superlattices, etc. This is addressed by a conceptual framework that combines: (1) automated tools for the systematic design of novel nanocrystal structures; (2) multiscale and multilevel modelling of colloidal nanocrystals spanning finite and periodic DFT, ab-initio and classical molecular dynamics simulations; (3) assessment of the computational work with close connection with experiments.
- Zeger Hens – University of Ghent (Belgium)
- Arjan Houtepen – Technical University of Delft (The Netherlands)
- Maksym Kovalenko – ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
- Jonhatan Owen – Columbia University (USA)
- Edward Sargent – University of Toronto (Canada)
- Lucas Visscher – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
- Filippo de Angelis – Universita’ di Perugia (Italy)
- Alexey Akimov – University of Buffalo (USA)
2018-2022 - “eScience Technology to Boost Quantum Dot Energy Conversion”, Joint NWO- eScience JCER Grant for Energy Research. PI Ivan Infante * under the affiliation of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
2014-2019 - Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, NWO-Vidi Grant. PI Ivan Infante * under the affiliation of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
The Nanochemistry Laboratory has 17 fume hoods, equipped with schlenk lines, 4 glove boxes and various other instrumentations. Different areas of the Laboratory are dedicated to various activities:
Optical and Chemical Analyses. The NACH Lab is equipped with different spectrophotometers, which allow for the measurement of the absorption of the samples from the ultraviolet (UV) to the near infrared (NIR) region of the electromagnetic spectrum, and two spectrofluorimeters, capable of measuring the photoluminescence (or phosphorescence) of samples in the UV-visible-NIR range; a dynamic light scattering (DLS) instrument, that can be used to estimate the hydrodynamic radius of particles dispersed in solvents; an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) optical emission (OES) and an ICP mass (ICP-MS) spectrometer, which can be accessed by users, with the help of trained technicians, for both routinely and elaborate elemental analysis measurements. A thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) setup is also available for measuring phase transitions, thermal decomposition of samples and absorption, adsorption and desorption phenomena.
Heterogeneous and Electro Catalysis. One part of the NACH Lab is now dedicated to both heterogeneous and electro catalysis. The heterogeneous catalysis equipment includes several micro-reactors, able to work continuously and in parallel. The produced gases (i.e. CO, CO2, CH4, Methanol and H2O) can be directly analyzed in situ by gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and non-dispersive infrared spectroscopy, enabling the study of both steady-state and transient reaction conditions. Thanks to an in-house built setup it is possible to monitor the evolution of chemical species at the gas–solid interface by means of in situ diffuse reflectance infrared spectroscopy (DRIFTS). The electrocatalysis area comprises potentiostats coupled with a solar simulator and a gas chromatographer. The current setup can be used to study various electrocatalytic reactions such as the hydrogen and oxigen evolution reactions, and N2 or CO2 reduction.
Bio-Area and Hyperthermia Treatment. The NACH Lab has a cell culture room that contains a basic cell culturing equipment. Here it is possible to investigate the interaction between cells and the nanoparticles (mainly produced in the NACH Lab) aimed at studying the toxicity of nanomaterials and to select those to be used for the delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs and for the magnetic hyperthermia or photothermal treatment (which are performed by exposing cells, incubated with the NCs, to an alternated magnetic field or to a laser, respectively).
Energy Storage Devices (Batteries). The nanomaterials synthesized in the NACH Lab and in other IIT laboratories (i.e. the Graphene Lab) are implemented and tested in actual batteries (coin cells). The NACH Lab has different casting tools to produce thin films of nanoparticles (such as a doctor blade, a micrometre blade and a spin coater), a dedicated glovebox for handling the necessary materials needed for the cells preparation (charge collectors, cathode and electrolyte materials, lithium and sodium salts), and the equipment to assemble and de-assemble coin cells (a hydraulic crimper machine with die sets). Eventually, the batteries can be cycled (i.e. the cycle of charge and discharge) in the NACH Lab via different battery cycling instruments, which can also perform electrochemical impedance spectroscopy measurements (to study the electrochemical reactions taking place in the cell).
We are studying the active manipulation of light-matter interactions at the nanoscale focusing on novel light driven energy storage devices or active tunable (nano)photonic structures. Materials of interest are semiconducting and plasmonic nanocrystals, such as metal oxides or perovskites, and their coupling to 2D materials. Methods for their investigation involve steady state and time resolved spectroscopy microscopy.
2018 Cariplo 2018 Low-cost and reusable photonic crystals for optical detection of bacterial contaminants Role: Co-PI Ilka Kriegel
Since 10/2016 Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (H2020-MSCA-IF-2016) Global Fellowship Metal oxide nanocrystals as optically driven dynamic manipulators of local (opto)electronic properties (MOPTOPus) Role: Fellow Ilka Kriegel
We focus on developing new crystallization techniques for organic-inorganic, lead and lead-free, halide perovskite single crystals and their utilization in optoelectronic devices such as photodetectors. Additionally, we are implementing these new crystallization methods in the fabrication of blue and green hybrid perovskite light emitting diodes. We also work on explaining the complexities related to the formation and photoluminescence mechanisms in all-inorganic halide perovskites.
• Prof. Edward Sargent, Photophysics of Hybrid Perovskite Single Crystals, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada.
• Dr. Daniela Maggioni, Solid-State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance analysis of Zero-Dimensional halide perovskite, Department of Chemistry of University degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
In electrocatalysis, we target the development of nanoscale catalysts for water splitting, N2 reduction and CO2 reduction reactions in order to foster a green economy. We focus on ex-situ synthesized colloidal nanoparticles as well as in-situ fabricated catalyst layers to address critical challenges in promoting the above mentioned electrocatalytic processes. We put particular emphasis on catalyst-support interactions and in-depth characterization of the catalyst after electrocatalytic reaction, in order to understand the factors promoting/demoting the reaction under investigation.
Electrocatalysis laboratory is equipped with state of the art equipment for the measurement of catalytic activity and the characterization of catalytic materials. The equipment includes 2 potentiostats, single and two-compartment electrochemical cells, a solar simulator and a gas chromatographer coupled with thermal conductivity detector for on-line analysis of gaseous products.
- Dr Cristina Giordano, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK.
- SAN PAOLO (contract n. 2008.2381) - Coordinated by Università; di Siena.
Molecular and morphological correlates of neuronal plasticity in rat models of learning
Person in charge for IIT: A. Falqui. IIT Contribution: €60.000. Project start: July 1st 2009. End: June 30th 2012.
- FP7 Collaborative Project (MAGNIFYCO, contract n. 228622) - Coordinated by CNR-Lecce.
Magnetic Nanocontainers for combined hyperthermia and controlled drug release
Person in charge for IIT: L. Manna and T. Pellegrino. IIT Contribution: €327.720. Project start: September 1st 2009. End: February 28th 2013.
- FP7 ERC Starting Grant (NANO ARCH contract n. 240111).
Assembly of Colloidal Nanocrystals into Unconventional Types of Nanocomposite Architectures with Advanced Properties
Person in charge for IIT: L. Manna. IIT Contribution: €1.299.960. Project start: September 1st 2009. End: February 28th 2013.
- FP7 Collaborative Project (SCALENANO contract n. 284486) - Coordinated by IREC.
Development and scale-up of nanostructured based materials and processes for low cost high efficiency chalcogenide based photovoltaics
Person in charge for IIT: L. Manna; IIT Contribution: €305.400. Project start: February 1st 2009. End: July 31st2015.
- FIRB (Italian funds for fundamental research) project (contract n. RBAP115AYN) - Coordinated by Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca.
Ossidi nanostrutturati: multi-funzionalità e applicazioni
Person in charge for IIT: L. Manna - IIT Contribution: €226.160. Project start: February 22nd 2012. End: February 21st 2015.
- FP7 Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship (IEF) NIRPLANA (contract n. 298022).
Near-Infrared Semiconductor Plasmonic Nanocrystals for Enhanced Photovoltaics
Person in charge for IIT: I. Moreels. IIT Contribution: €193.726,80. Project start: May 16th 2012. End: May 15th 2014
- FP7 Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship (IEF) LOTOCON (contract n. 301100).
Low-toxicity copper chalcogeneide semiconductor nanocrystals
Person in charge for IIT: V. Lesnyak. IIT Contribution: €185.763,60. Project start: June 15th 2012. Ended: June 14th 2014
- FP7 Marie Curie Actions Initial Training Networks (ITN) - Coordinated by Universitaet Regensburg.Mag(net)icFun (contract n. 290248)
Functionalized Magnetic Nanoparticles and their Application in Chemistry and Biomedicine
Person in charge for IIT: L. Manna and T. Pellegrino. IIT Contribution: €590.234. Project start: October 1st 2012. End: September 30th 2016
- CARIPLO 2012 NANOCRYSLAS (contract n. 2012-0824).
Micro-laser based on rod-shaped self-assembling colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals
Person in charge for IIT: R. Krahne. IIT Contribution: €74.000. Project start: March 1st 2013. End: February 28th 2015
- FP7 Collaborative Project FLAGSHIP GRAPHENE (contract n. 604391)
Graphene-Based Revolutions in ICT And Beyond
Person in charge for NACH dep.: L. Manna, R. Krahne and I. Moreels. NACH Contribution: €305.520. Project start: October 1st 2013. End: March 31st 2016
- AIRC Investigator Grant (contract n. IG 14527)
Stimuli-Responsive Nanoparticles for eradicating different subsets of cancer cells within tumors
Person in charge for IIT: T. Pellegrino. IIT Contribution: €180.000. Project start: January 2nd 2014. End: January 1st 2016
- FP7 ERC Consolidator Grant TRANS NANO (contract n. 614897).
Advancing the Study of Chemical, Structural and Surface Transformations in Colloidal Nanocrystals
Person in charge for IIT: L. Manna. IIT Contribution: €2.430.720. Project start: March 1st 2014. End: February 28th 2019
- CARIPLO 2013 - Coordinated by Istituto Nazionale Tumori (contract n. 2013 0865).
Disease recurrence in epithelial ovarian cancer: deciphering miRNA-driven regulatory networks related to drug sensitivity/cellular plasticity and exploring nanomaterial-based targeted delivery of identified key molecules for therapeutic purposes
Person in charge for IIT: T. Pellegrino. IIT Contribution: €90.000. Project start: May 1st 2014. Project end: April 30th 2017
- CARIPLO 2013 GREENS(contract n. 2013 0656).
Green nanomaterials for next-generation photovoltaics
Person in charge for NACH dep.: L. Manna. NACH Contribution: €140.000. Project start: June 1st 2014. End: May 31st 2016