Research area: photophysics and photochemistry by steady-state and time-resolved spectrophotometric and fluorimetric techniques.

Research units

Photobehaviour of drugs – Studies on photophysical and photochemical properties of compounds of pharmaceutical and biological interest and on interactions of drugs with biological targets (polynucleotides, proteins and DNA). Micelles and cyclodextrines as drug carriers.

Photochemistry of aryl olefins – Luminescence properties, photoreaction (isomerization, cyclization) mechanisms and conformational equilibria of diarylethenes and distyrylarenes. The effects of heteroatoms, additives (energy, electron and proton donor/acceptors) and complex matrices are particularly investigated.

Chromogenic systems – The study deals with different interrelated lines: (i) spectral and kinetic behaviour of new photochromic compounds; (ii) inclusion into organised systems and solid matrices searching for a route to optically switchable materials for applications; (iii) role of selective electronic and vibronic excitation on the photochromic reaction; (iv) interactions of photochromes with biomolecules; (v) development of molecular processors for Fuzzy and Boolean logic.

Nanostructured materials – (i) Synthesis and morphological characterization of inorganic and hybrid colloidal nanoparticles useful for bio-medical applications and energy conversion; investigation of the photophysical and photochemical behavior of the nanomaterials as function of their surface functionalization. (ii). Preparation and characterization of inclusion compounds formed by inorganic nanostructured solids and organic dyes; investigation of the optical and photochemical properties of the dyes as function of their arrangements in the matrices; evaluation of the interactions of the organo-inorganic composites with biomacromolecules.

Materials used in works of art – Spectral characterization and photodegradation processes of colorants and additives present in painted layers (binders and varnishes) and artistic textiles (mordants); assemblage and validation of portable instrumentation. Investigation of laboratory samples (mimicking materials used in polychromatic surfaces) and original works by using non destructive, in situ, reflectance fluorimetric and spectrophotometric techniques.

Scintillators – Optical properties of liquid scintillators. Optimization of their performances (emission yield, response time, attenuation length, durability) for their use in large-scale detectors of solar neutrinos and dark matter searches.

Photoresistors – This study concerns the photophysical and photochemical characterization of some classes of photoacid-generators and their mechanism of action in photolithography. Preparation and characterization of photo-catalysts to perform water splitting through solar energy. Up conversion of incoherent light through organic, coordination compounds and rare earth ions.

Ultrafast processes – Femtosecond spectro-kinetic measurements in absorption and emission (λexc = 266 and 300-600 nm) to investigate the mechanisms of photoinduced reactions at early stage after excitation and the dynamics of the media around the excited species.

Design, synthesis and characterization of amphiphilic molecules and ionic liquids – The research activity is focused on the study of chemical and biochemical reactivity, transport and delivery of biologically-active molecules in presence of amphiphilic supramolecular systems, gels and ionic liquids. The ultimate objective is that of preparing more efficient and specific materials to be exploited in several applications in the fields of chemistry, biomedicine and more generally in the materials science area. More recently strong interest is also devoted to study of amphiphilic nanostructure effects on photophysics and photochemical properties of tetracyclines and chemosensors.

Chemosensors – Fluorescent and chromogenic chemosensors are developed able to reveal quickly, selectively and sensitively ionic species in aqueous and micellar solutions. The target is the use of these systems to reveal the presence of ions in particular in vitro and in vivo cellular tests and to make this approach more promising than other analytical methods.

TiO2 photocatalytic reactions – Mechanistic investigations are in progress on the primary oxidation steps of the TiO2-sensitized photooxidation of organic compounds in aqueous and surfactant solutions, which could provide useful information about the degradation pathways involved in the mineralization of organic pollutants in waste water.