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).
Hierarchical, porous and mesoporous nanostructures for biotechnological applications. Polymeric organic-inorganic nanocomposites.
Luminescent nanoparticles, activated with organic luminophores and transition metal ions and lanthanides. Nanosystems that can be activated by external stimuli for diagnostics, drug delivery and for curative treatments in nanomedicine.
Carbon based nanomaterials: fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, graphene.
Semiconductor nanomaterials: Quantum Dots. Electronic and spectroscopic properties.
Nanomaterials for Green Chemistry: based on transition metal oxides (TiO2, Fe3O4, ZnO), lanthanides (CeO2, Gd2O3), fluorides (CaF2, SrF2, NaYF4) and noble metals (Cu, Au, Ag).
Synthesis of nanoparticles in solution with "green chemistry" methods (sol-gel, hydrothermal). Strategies for obtaining different morphologies (nanorods, core@shell), porosity and dimension through the use of green chemistry methodologies.
Chemical-physical characterization of nanostructures (structural, morphological, colloidal analysis). Spectroscopic investigation in ultraviolet, visible and infrared on luminescent nanoparticles for biotechnological and biomedical applications.
Surface functionalization of inorganic nanoparticles with binders of biological interest for dispersion in an aqueous medium. Investigation of surface bonds by infrared and Raman vibrational analysis.


1) Synthesis of metal nanostructures (Au, Ag) in solution and their spectroscopic characterization in the optical field (UV, visible and infrared). Study of colloidal properties. Morphological analysis with electron microscopy (SEM and TEM).

2) Preparation of oxide based nanomaterials (TiO2, Fe3O4, ZnO, CeO2) in aqueous solution by catalysis. Study of colloidal properties. Structural analysis by X-ray diffraction and morphological with electron microscopy (SEM and TEM). Investigation of vibrational properties with infrared and Raman spectroscopy. Photocatalysis properties on organic dyes.

3) Preparation and chemical-physical characterization (structural, morphological, colloidal, properties of
absorption and emission) of fluoride-based nanomaterials functionalized with luminescent lanthanide ions for applications in biotechnology and nanomedicine.

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.