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Naples Unit is focused on development of novel multifunctional nanomaterials for applications ranging from photonics to biomedicine.

Gold nanoparticles (nanospheres and nanorods), AuNPs, are synthetized and properly modified with biomolecules for sensing; for instance, naked-eye speciation of arsenic species is demonstrated. PEG-stabilized AuNPs are also synthetized as a more biocompatible alternative to standard AuNPs obtained by using cetyl-tetra ammonium bromide, for in vivo applications (e.g. as tool for cancer treatment).

Porous semiconductor nanoparticles are fabricated starting from both synthetic (silicon, graphene oxide) and natural (porous silica of sedimentary origin called diatomite) materials. Silica nanoparticles, characterized by a size of about 300 nm, are realized by means of top-down approaches; several surface modification strategies based on the immobilization of chemicals or biomolecules by the well-known silanol chemistry, are used in order to add properties to nanoparticles for sensing and drug delivery purposes. Poorly water-soluble anticancer drugs are successfully transported inside cancer cells by nanoparticles conjugation. In vivo studies are currently in progress.

Thermo-electric characterization of graphene oxide/PolyANIline materials is also performed in Naples Unit for energy harvesting applications.

An activity related to fabrication and characterization of superconducting and magnetic materials for metamaterials and photonics is starting. This activity is focused on NdBa2Cu3O7 (Nd123: a High Temperature Superconductor), GdSr2RuCu2O8 (Gd1212: presenting coexistance of magnetic order and superconductivity in the unit cell), and SrCuO3+x (that is ferroelectric, magnetic or superconducting depending on oxygen content), fabricated by means of liquid phase chemical procedures, solid state reactions and pyrolysis methods. Starting from materials in bulk form (melt textured, films, powders), the next activity will be based on their synthesis as nanoparticles and photonic crystals in order to further exploit their unusual properties. Optical characterisation of samples, performed in our laboratories by means of FTIR, Ellipsometry and Raman facilities, attracted the interest of both optics and superconductivity communities.



Figure 1. Naked eye speciation of arsenic species by TtArsC modified PEG-AuNPS [Nanotechnology 26 (2015) 435703].





Figure 2. TEM (a) and confocal fluorescence microscopy (b) images of breast cancer cells treated with diatomite nanoparticles (DNPs) for 12 h at 37°C [Nanoscale 7 (2015) 20063–20074].


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Figure 3. TEM images of composites (PAGO) based on PolyANIline (PANI) and Graphene Oxide (GO) at different aniline concentration: 20% (PAGO 20), 50% (PAGO50) and 90% (PAGO90). PAGO thermoelectric effects are investigated for energy harvesting applications.





Figure 4. a) Scheme of bulk superconductor pellet. b) Thermal schedule of a typical growth process. c) Gd1212 infrared spectrum measured by FTIR. d) Ellipsometric analysis of Nd123 [IEEE T. Appl. Supercon. 26 (2016) 8800804; J. Appl. Phys. 114 (2013) 083521].


Contact: Ilaria Rea