Research Topics

Material design and processing:

The development of new functional structures often requires materials that are not commercially available. This topic focuses on the design and synthesis of new active media and their processability. Special attention is given to the synthesis of inorganic nanoparticles and their compatibility with polymers for the fabrication of optical nanocomposite thin films with controllable permeability and refractive index, as well as solution processing of fully inorganic metal-oxide structures. Similarly, hardly processable polymers such as perfluorinated macromolecules are being investigated for the fabrication of colorimetric membranes sensitive to PFAS.

Readings: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2022, 14, (17), 19806-19817; Adv. Opt. Mater. 2021, 5, (9), 2002006; ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2018, 10, (39), 33434-3344; ACS Photonics 2015, 2, (4), 537-543.

Photon Harvesting enhancement in Photocatalytic Systems 


This topic addresses the design and fabrication of materials and photonic nanostructures made of oxide semiconductors cast in a mild solution process to demonstrate, slow photon absorption enhancement in water treatment and other photoactive processes. The research also investigates the use of plasmonic particles to extend the absorbance spectrum of photoactive devices and on material nanostructuring to enhance light-matter intercation via different mechanisms. 

Readings: ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2022, 14, (17), 19806-19817; Mater. Chem. Front. 2019, 3, 429-436 .ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2018, 10, (39), 33434-33440. 

Sol-gel synthesis of inorganic photoactive media 

This project targets new one-pot synthetic procedures for inorganic porous media for photo-oxidative and reductive remediation of water and air pollution. It aims to spectral absorbance broadening with respect to standard wide energy gap semiconductors oxides, exploiting metal oxide alloys and doping with plasmonic nanoparticles synthesized ad hoc. 

Molecular diffusion in thin films:

The study of the kinetics of the optical response during sorption/desorption processes allows a new method for the assessment of molecular diffusion coefficients in thin films by simple UV-Vis optical spectroscopy on both polymer and porous inorganic matrices. Recent work, demonstrated that the method can be applied also to commercial thin film used in food packaging systems. 

Readings: Advanced Functional Materials 2021, 31, (9), 2009626. ACS Applied Polymer Materials 2020, 2, (2), 563-568. Adv. Opt. Mater. 2021, 5, (9), 2002006.ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2019, 11, (18), 16872-16880. ACS Omega 2018, 3, (7), 7517-7522.

Photonic air and water Sensors:

This project deals with the development of polymer and inorganic photonic crystals with enhanced permeability for the label-free detection of air and water pollutants able to overcome the limitations of current technologies and to provide a tool for the assessment of air and water quality. Label-free selectivity is achieved exploiting the different kinetics of analytes intercalation within the polymers which is ruled by polymer-analyte chemico-physical interactions (FLORY-HUGGINS PARAMETERS). ​Such kinetics allow to disentangle the analytes without chemical labels.

Readings: Advanced Functional Materials 2021, 31, (9), 2009626. ACS Applied Polymer Materials 2020, 2, (2), 563-568. Adv. Opt. Mater. 2021, 5, (9), 2002006.ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2019, 11, (18), 16872-16880. ACS Omega 2018, 3, (7), 7517-7522.ACS Photonics 2015, 2, (4), 537-543.

Control of light emission and lasing:

In the past, vacuum processed inorganic photonic structures have been used to control light to amplify emission, create lasers, optical switchers and even photon recycling in photovoltaic devices. While inorganic materials perform excellently due to their high dielectric contrast, they are costly and time-consuming to fabricate. This research pathway aims to demonstrate that solution processable polymers and hybrid materials can replace inorganic media in this field.  To this end, we have demonstrated the Purcell effect and lasing with all polymer microcavities fabricated with commercial polymers and are now focusing on optimizing fully inorganic, high Q microcavities that are fully solution processed.

Readings:Materials Chemistry Frontiers 2022, 6, (17), 2413-2421. Adv. Opt. Mater. 2017, 5, (21), 1700523-8. RSC Advances 2018, 8, (23), 13026-13033. Opt. Mater.: X 2022, 13, 100130. ACS Omega 2022, 7, (18), 15499-15506.