Nanomaterials for Biotechnology and Green Chemistry (2020/2021)

Course code
Adolfo Speghini
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Teaching is organised as follows:
Activity Credits Period Academic staff Timetable
teoria 5 I semestre Adolfo Speghini

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laboratorio 1 I semestre Adolfo Speghini

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Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide the students with the theoretical and experimental tools for the study, development and application of nanomaterials in the field of biotechnology and green chemistry, both for industrial and agro-food applications. Properly activated inorganic nanomaterials (e.g. metallic nanoparticles and oxide or fluoride based nanoparticles) will be considered for specific properties, such as for diagnostics, conversion and storage of energy, transport of materials and catalytic activity for productive processes and transformation of resources in a logic of global sustainability. The course also includes some laboratory experiences to provide dexterity and critical and analytical skills of designing, preparation, chemico-physical characterisation and application of inorganic functionalized nanomaterials for Biotechnology and Green Chemistry.



Nanomaterials: definition and peculiarities. Typology of nanomaterials (organic, inorganic, organic-inorganic hybrids).
Importance of the surface in nanomaterials. Surface-influenced phenomena. Thermodynamic aspect of nanometric phases. Hierarchical nanostructures.
1D and 2D nanomaterials. Fullerenes, carbon nanotubes and graphene. Mention to band theory. Semiconductor based nanomaterials: Quantum Dots: electronic and spectroscopic properties.
Fluoride based nanomaterials activated with luminescent lanthanide ions. Luminescent Carbon Dots.
Noble metal nanoparticles and their plasmonic properties. Oxide based nanomaterials for photocatalysis. Magnetic nanoparticles. Organic-inorganic nanocomposites.
Nanosystems activated by external stimuli for diagnostics, drug delivery and for curative treatments in nanomedicine.
Synthesis of nanoparticles in solution using "green chemistry" methods (coprecipitation, sol-gel, solvothermal techniques). Microwave assisted synthesis. Strategies for obtaining different morphologies (nanorods, core@shell), porosity and dimension through the use of green chemistry methodologies.
Surface functionalization of inorganic nanoparticles with silica shells.
Chemical-physical characterization of nanostructures (structural, morphological, colloidal analysis). Spectroscopic investigation in ultraviolet, visible and infrared on luminescent nanoparticles. Investigation of the vibrational properties of the nanoparticles with infrared and Raman spectroscopy.


1) Synthesis of metal nanostructures (Au, Ag) in aqueous solution and their spectroscopic characterization in the optical region (UV, visible and infrared). Study of colloidal properties of the prepared metallic nanoparticles and analysis of their morphology using the Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) technique.

2) Preparation of TiO2 and Fe3O4 nanoparticles in solution with a microwave assisted reaction. Study of their colloidal properties. Structural analysis by X-ray diffraction. Morphological investigation using Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) technique. Investigation of their vibrational properties with Raman spectroscopy.

3) Preparation of CaF2 and SrF2 nanoparticles functionalized with luminescent lanthanide ions in aqueous solution and their coating with a silica shell using the sol-gel technique. Chemico-physical characterization (structural, morphological, colloidal) of the nanoparticles. Study of their emission properties in the visible range upon laser excitation in the near infrared region.

Assessment methods and criteria

The oral examination will include the exposition of a bibliographic paper on a subject of the Course and questions on the topics of the Course about the theoretical part as well as the examples, exercises and laboratory experiences. Particular attention will be devoted as well to the knowledge of the the concepts, methods, experimental setups and techniques used in laboratory experiences.
For both attending and not attending students the oral examination will cover all the topics discussed in the theoretical part, in the examples and exercises as well as in the laboratory experiences.
Written reports about the the laboratory experiences are required, describing the principles, the used experimental methods and the results obtained during the lab experiences. The reports have to be loaded to the Moodle platform as soon as the lab experiences will be completed.

Reference books
Activity Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
teoria Dieter Vollath Nanoparticles - Nanocomposites - Nanomaterials (Edizione 1) Wiley-VCH 2013 978-3-527-33460-5