Progetti europei

Progetti in corso


Project acronym: BioPoweredCL
Project title: Bright and biologically powered chemiluminescent labels for cell and tissue imaging
Grant Agreement Number: 949087
Duration: 60 months
Funding scheme: Horizon 2020 - ERC-STG
Call identifier: H2020-ERC-2020-STG
Principal Investigator: Prof. Alessandro Aliprandi


Imaging is one of the most powerful technique to visualize molecules, tissues, to understand and follow processes and it is the most used diagnostic tool in vitro and in vivo, Current biomedical imaging techniques can have high sensitivity, good spatial/temporal resolution and, in some cases, high tissue penetration but cannot combine all of these desired properties without using harmful radiations (or toxic labels) or very expensive equipment. Optical imaging techniques represent the best compromise among them; however, their ability to scale to human body is precluded. The main restriction of fluorescence imaging is that it requires light excitation which is limited by tissue absorption and scattering. Such limitations are not present in chemiluminescence imaging since light production occurs through a chemical reaction, resulting in higher penetration depth and best sensitivity. However, both natural and artificial chemiluminescent systems require a continuous flow of exogenous reactants since all substrates are irreversibly consumed. BioPoweredCL aims to develop an unprecedented strategy to enable molecular imaging by realizing near infrared luminophores that harvest energy from the cellular respiration chain, in order to emit light without being consumed themselves. BioPoweredCL takes advantage of the most recent progress in artificial light production to develop a novel imaging technique where the absence of an excitation source overcomes the current limitations of fluorescence imaging while the regeneration of the luminophore overcomes the limitations of bioluminescence imaging. If successful it could replace current techniques based on harmful ionizing radiations such as X-rays or γ-rays. To reach such a grand-challenge the work plan is articulated into three different phases: 1) synthesis of new luminophores; 2) electrochemical characterization and energy cell harvesting; 3) in vitro experiments where the full potential of the approach will be validated.


Project acronym: DIRNANO
Project title: Directing the immune response through designed nanomaterials
Grant Agreement Number: 956544
Duration: 48 months
Funding scheme: Horizon 2020 - MSCA - ITN
Call identifier: H2020-MSCA-ITN-2020

Coordinator: Department of Biomedical Sciences, Padova University
Local Coordinator:  Prof. Fabrizio Mancin, Prof. Edmondo Benetti


DIRNANO provides a highly integrated and interdisciplinary training of next-generation Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) at the interface of nanopharmaceutical bioengineering and its translation on preclinical and human immunology. DIRNANO will develop biocompatible nanopharmaceuticals with either “super”-stealth or immune-specific behavior for cancer immunotherapy and vaccination by mapping nanoparticle-immune interactions through two core approaches: 1) inception of novel surface engineering approaches, based on new organic polymers, zwitterionic lipids and conjugation chemistry strategies, 2) engineering of host or microbial-derived modulators of innate immunity (e.g. complement system).

DIRNANO team comprises internationally renowned scientists and industrialists at the forefront of nanoengineering, pharmaceutical sciences, molecular biosciences, commerce and business, thereby generating a unique pan-European macro-environment for interdisciplinary training of ESRs at the highest international level. Through participation of industrial partners, we will furnish ESRs with in-demand industrial and business skills, including process manufacturing, reproducibility and regulatory challenges, intellectual property and commercialization strategies.

DIRNANO will lead to rational engineering of broader libraries of NPs with tunable immune-modulating functions. The combinatorial analysis of new nanomaterial core-coat scaffolds will improve temporal and spatial understanding of biomaterial-innate immune interactions at the molecular level, thereby filling the void in overcoming adverse reactions to nanopharmaceuticals injection. DIRNANO will drive future development of small molecules and biologics-based nanopharmaceuticals through a “low-risk-high gain” perspective and within the context of personalized therapies and precision medicine. As such, DIRNANO, will extensively contribute to European science, education and socioeconomics value, skill retention and brain-gain.



Project acronym: ION-MAN
Project title: Rational design of polymerized IONic liquid electrolytes for MultivAleNt ion batteries
Grant Agreement Number: 101068538
Duration: 24 months
Funding scheme: HORIZON-MSCA-2021-PF (European Fellowships)
Call identifier: HORIZON-MSCA-2021-PF-01
Coordinator: University of Padova (UNIPD)
Supervisor: Prof. Vito Di Noto
Fellow: Dr. Francesca Lorandi

With global battery demand projected to increase by 25% per year till 2030, it is urgent to overcome the limitations of commercial Liion
batteries in terms of energy density, safety, cost and carbon footprint. Batteries based on multivalent chemistries can reach
significantly higher energy densities at lower costs. In particular, magnesium has very high volumetric capacity, low reduction
potential, no toxicity, it is easier to handle than lithium, and 3000-times more abundant and more geographically widespread.
Therefore, rechargeable magnesium batteries (RMBs) can enable safe, low-cost, high-energy-density energy storage, contributing to
the energy security and the creation of a competitive battery ecosystem within the European Union.
The major barrier to RMBs is the lack of Mg-conducting electrolytes that allow reversible, charge efficient plating/stripping of metallic
Mg. ION-MAN will develop a new family of high-performing electrolytes for RMBs based on polymerized ionic liquids (PILs). The
rationally designed electrolyte structures combine the strengths of previously reported Mg-conducting electrolytes, to the
exploration of topological effects. An integrated, multi-technique approach that uses advanced characterization tools will enable to
measure physicochemical properties, and propose suitable long-range charge migration mechanisms for the electrolytes. Despite the
bivalency of Mg2+ leads to strong interactions with anions and solvents, the proposed methodology will allow for accurately
identifying the mobile Mg species, their interactions with other components and their reactions with both electrodes of an RMB. Thus,
the compatibility with Mg metal anode and selected cathodes will be thoroughly investigated, defining requirements for device
optimization, toward safe and practical RMBs.


Project acronym: iSenseDNA
Project title: Computation driven development of novel vivo-like-DNA-nanotransducers for protein structure identification
Grant Agreement Number: 101046920
Duration: 48 months
Funding scheme: Horizon Europe EIC-Pathfinder
Principal Investigator: Prof. Stefano Corni


The link between the structural change of a molecule and its function is of fundamental importance since it provides direct insight on mechanism of complex biological processes. Recent years have witnessed noticeable advances of analysis of complex molecular conformations, however the understanding of their conformational dynamics remain a formidable challenge and revolutionary advances are still demanded the analysis of chemical composition and structure of biomolecules, however the understanding of their conformational dynamics remains a formidable challenge, and revolutionary advances are still demanded. Molecular machines, such as the DNA itself, which work at the core of many cellular activities, is able to DNA modify its conformation and to transduce the signal upon binding to specific proteins. In this project, we will develop a DNA-nanotrasducer for real-time detection of conformational changes and the analysis of molecular dynamics as it occurs in-vivo biological processes. The project aims to provide: (i) the development of DNA-nanotransducers that can perform both detection and conformational analysis of molecular dynamics in one functional unit (ii), Use bioinformatics approaches to predict 3D structure of conformational states modelling real time evolution of interacting DNA-NT and proteins, and machine learning (ML) models to directly link the atomistic structure, conformational state, and dynamics (iii) Assess protein-DNA-NT binding by experimental approaches using linear and “on-chip” non-linear spectroscopies for the detection of vibrational signatures of organic molecular systems, to recognize consequent structural changes in the optical signal in real-time, (iv) Describe DNA-NT/protein interactions at the cellular level and 3D analysis of DNA-NT and model proteins, towards drug discovery. These research efforts will provide a foundation for a next generation of DNA-nanotransducers to be used for high-throughput functional molecular structure.


Project acronym: KNOWSKITE-X
Project title: Knowledge-driven fine-tuning of perovskite-based electrode materials for reversible Chemicals-to-Power devices
Grant Agreement Number: 101091534
Duration: 48 months
Funding scheme: Horizon Europe RIA
Call identifier: HORIZON-CL4-2022-RESILIENCE-01
Principal Investigator: Prof.ssa Antonella Glisenti


We target a knowledge-based methodological entry to the finding of new generation electrode materials based on perovskites for reversible SOFC/SOEC technologies. The latter are archetypal complex systems: the physico-chemical processes at play involve surface electrochemical reactions, ionic diffusion, charge collection and conduction, which all occur timely within a very limited region. Hence, true in-depth understanding of the key parameters requires characterisation at the right place, at the right time frame and under the proper operating conditions. The price to pay for achieving this multiply-relevant characterisation is the involvement of non-trivial, advanced characterisation techniques. Multi-scale modelling will contribute to turn experimental datasets into a genuine scientific description and make time-saving predictions. In KNOWSKITE-X, the coupling between theoretical and experimental activities is made real by the choice of partners, who are all active in genuinely articulate theory and practice to understand active systems. To provide unifying concepts and to widen the project’s outcomes, intensive collaboration with knowledge discovery using machine-learning and deep learning methods is planned and AI-enabled tools will be used to compensate the smallness of relevant datasets. Such efforts are intended in view of building strong correlations capable of establishing robust composition-structure-activity-performance relations and hence, lead the way to knowledge-based predictions. By doing this, we also target the implementation of simplified testing protocols and tools operable by industrial stakeholders, which results can be augmented thanks to the knowledge-based pivotal correlations implemented during the project. To this end, dedicated efforts will be made in certifying the interoperability and usability of the project’s advances in the form of harmonised documentation and open science sharing.


Project acronym: NITROGEN-LIGHT
Project title: Photo(electro)catalytic Nitrogen Fixation
Grant Agreement Number: 894986
Duration: 36 months
Funding scheme: H2020-MSCA-IF (Global Fellowships)
Call identifier: H2020-MSCA-IF-2019
Coordinator: University of Padova (UNIPD)
Supervisor: Prof. Marcella Bonchio
Fellow: Dr. Elisabetta Benazzi

Despite the intensive effort on nitrogen photofixation, there is a clear gap in the design of the catalytic system at the molecular/atomic level: at the same time, the majority of literature examples for nitrogen photo(electro)reduction employed only Uv-Vis semiconductor-based systems with poor control on the molecular aspects of photo(electro)catalysis. NITROGEN-LIGHT lies in the panorama of nitrogen reduction, but offering a new point of view. This project aims to develop a photoelectrolyser to efficiently convert nitrogen to ammonia, but exploiting semiconductor surfaces decorated with controlled molecular assemblies of visible-light sensitisers and nitrogen-activating multi-redox catalysts. The advantage of the molecular design is the possibility to easily tune the redox properties of active sites and the stabilization of nitrogen-derived intermediates, with the final aim of synchronizing photo-induced electron/proton transfer (PCET), lowering the energy barrier and optimizing the quantum efficiency. Success in this task will be instrumental for the fabrication of novel photocathodes for N2RR, to be integrated within a PEC device, in combination with photoanodes for water oxidation. The photoelectrode assembly for the final device will build on the state-of-the-art expertise and recent achievements of the CalTech and the Padova group, while frontier studies on the photophysics of selected molecular assemblies, to be performed with secondment visits at the Prague Institute, will guide the overall component choice and synthetic modification.


Project acronym: PHOTO-STEREO
Project title: Organocatalytic enantioselective dearomative photocycloadditions for the synthesis of polycyclic heterocycles
Grant Agreement Number: 101106125
Duration: 24 months
Funding scheme: HORIZON-MSCA-2022-PF (European Fellowships)
Call identifier: HORIZON-MSCA-2022-PF-01
Coordinator: University of Padova (UNIPD)
Supervisor: Prof. Luca Dell'Amico
Fellow: Dr. Vasco Corti

The PHOTO-STEREO action provides a general synthetic platform for the organocatalytic enantioselective dearomatization of
heteroaromatic compounds by means of [2+2] photocycloadditions to obtain complex saturated polycyclic compounds in one step
under mild conditions. The proposed strategy relies on the direct excitation, by means of visible light, of organocatalytic
heteroaromatic intermediates to access their excited state reactivity. Furthermore, the implementation of this methodology into a
flow system will enable the collaboration of the host institution with an industrial partner, offering to the fellow a valuable experience
of the dynamics in industrial R&D. PHOTO-STEREO will merge the expertise of the group of Prof. Dell’Amico in photoredox catalysis
with the expertise of the fellow in asymmetric organocatalysis. Overall, this project promotes the efficient use of sustainable
resources, such as light and inexpensive heterocyclic feedstocks, while bringing innovation into the fields of synthetic organic
chemistry and medicinal chemistry. This project will ultimately contribute to the EU’s scientific excellence, and at long term, to
scientific innovation with a positive impact in the society and EU’s economy. Importantly, all the competences acquired during the
realization of this fellowship, together with the creation of new connections with industry and academy, will allow the fellow to reach
a position of complete professional maturity, while providing her with fruitful opportunities for gaining a permanent position as
senior scientist in both academic, or industrial settings


Project acronym: ProID
Project title: Ultrafast Raman Technologies for Protein Identification and Sequencing
Grant Agreement Number: 964363
Duration: 36 months
Funding scheme: H2020- FETOPEN
Call identifier: H2020-FETOPEN-2018-2019-2020

Coordinator: Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Local Coordinator: Prof. Stefano Corni

The human proteome is the whole set of protein that a human can potentially express. Most of the human proteome is known. However the proteome, being the set of proteins potentially expressed, does not give information regarding the protein really expressed in a specific person or a patient. The possibility of accessing to this fundamental information through a cost and time effective technique will revolutionize our ability to prevent, diagnose and treat most of the human diseases.

This is the commitment of ProID that aims to provide a technological platform able to record single protein Raman spectra with single amino-acid resolution. Namely, by reading the sequence of selected amino-acids along the protein chain, the platform will identify the corresponding protein. To reach this goal we want to combine advanced nanofabrications of plasmonic nanopores with ultrafast time resolved photon detectors and machine learning algorithms. More in details: i) plasmonic nanopores will be exploited to achieve single amino-acid optical excitation and enhanced Raman stimulation; ii) ultrafast and ultrasensitive Raman spectrometers will be obtained by combining the emerging technologies of SPAD (Single Photon Avalanche Diode) arrays with dedicated otpica elements which improve the sensitivity and the speed of the detector, and reduce the number of elements of the array necessary to sample a Raman spectrum; iii) bioinformatics approaches will complete the technological platform by developing specific software for discriminating the Raman spectra of proteins with reduced spectral points. Also, insightful experiments on electrophoretic translocation and augmented fluid viscosity in ultra-confined systems will contribute the molecular motion into the nanopores. Finally, to state of the art in-silico design will support the project by contributing to system optimization and data analyses/interpretation.


Project acronym: PURPEST
Project title: Plant pest prevention through technology-guided monitoring and site-specific control
Grant Agreement Number: 101060634
Duration: 48 months
Funding scheme: Horizon Europe RIA
Call identifier: HORIZON-CL6-2021-FARM2FORK-01
Principal Investigator: Prof. Luca Cappellin


The EU requires rapid and effective actions based on innovative detection concepts targeting quarantine, priority and other serious pests. Fair, healthy and environment-friendly food systems are threatened by increasing pest invasions due to climate change and a growing demand for high quality, pest-free food. The goal of PurPest is to develop, validate and demonstrate an innovative sensor platform that can rapidly detect five different pests during import and in the field to stop their establishment and reduce pesticide inputs by at least 50%. The sensor concept is based on detection of pest-specific volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by host plants invaded by one or several pests. PurPest will determine the VOC signature of Phytophthora ramorum, the Fall armyworm, the Cotton bollworm, the Brown marmorated stinkbug and the Pinewood nematode under different abiotic stress conditions. The VOC database will be exploited to optimize existing and develop new sensor concepts to detect pest-specific VOCs, starting from proof of concept (TRL3) to demonstration in field trials (TRL6). Non-invasive, reliable and rapid pest sensing platforms will increase pest screening efficiency from currently 3% to 80% of plant imports. Preventing outbreaks of new pests and site-specific pesticide use by early detection are the cornerstones of sustainable and integrated pest management (IPM). PurPest will evaluate the socio-economic and ecological impact of 5 pests and how the new detection concept affects these impacts. Direct communication with stakeholders via the advisory board, workshops and webinars is part of PurPest’s multi-actor approach to affirm involvement of all interest groups along the value chain The PurPest project is a strong multidisciplinary consortium with expertise from 10 countries, 7 universities, 5 research institutes, 4 SMEs and 2 governmental agencies.


Project acronym: SYNPHOCAT
Project title: Synthetic Bimodal Photoredox Catalysis: Unlocking New Sustainable Light-Driven Reactivity
Grant Agreement Number: 101040025
Duration: 60 months
Funding scheme: Horizon Europe - ERC-StG
Call identifier: ERC-2021-StG
Principal Investigator: Prof. Luca Dell’Amico

Solar light is an inexhaustible, abundant, and free reactant that can promote the construction and transformation of molecules. The chemistry community is particularly interested in photocatalysis, which uses light energy to promote a chemical transformation. Photocatalysts (PCs) play a key role in transformative light-driven processes by donating or receiving electrons to or from the target substrate. The selection and structural refinement of PCs can channel reactivity to diverse mechanistic pathways, but often proceeds via trial and error. Here, I will use structure-property relationships to: 1) define novel bimodal organic PCs able to catalyse thermodynamically demanding and opposite photoredox events exploiting their electronically excited state; 2) explore the PCs reactivity by means of their radical ions, going beyond conventional photoredox approaches; 3) capitalise on the new reactivity and bimodal way of action of the PCs to implement novel selective transformations of biological targets under physiological conditions. These project core concepts will be accomplished by the rational evaluation and optimisation of the PCs physicochemical and structural properties as well as the careful analysis of the mechanistic features subtending the light-driven chemical events. Overall, SYNPHOCAT will deliver new conceptual and experimental tools for the sustainable light-driven construction and functionalisation of biorelevant molecules, opening the way to a new dimension of sustainable light-driven chemistry.

Progetti conclusi


"Novel catalyst materials for the cathode side of MEAs suitable for transportation applications"

Project acronym: CathCat
Type of funding scheme: Collaborative Project
Call identifier: FCH-JU-2011-1
 Annual Implementation Plan topics addressed: Fourth Annual Implementation Plan of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU)

Name of the coordinating persons:  Prof. Dr. Ulrich Stimming
Institution: TechnischeUniversitätMünchen (TUM)

Name of the local Coordinator: Prof. G. Granozzi

Novel low temperature fuel cell (FC) cathode catalyst and support systems will be designed and synthesized. The focus will be on highly active catalyst materials for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) for transportation applications.
 These materials will be fully characterized, benchmarked and validated with a multi-scale bottom up approach in order to significantly reduce the amount of precious metal catalyst loadings (< 0.15 g/kW) and to vastly improve fuel cell efficiency and durability.
CathCat combines groups with experimental as well as theoretical fundamental background, researchers from university and institutes with expertise in fundamental Surface Science, as well as applied systems and strong industry partners with long time experience in FC technology.


Project acronym: COPAC
Project title: Coherent Optical Parallel Computing
Grant Agreement Number: 766563
Duration: 36 months
Funding scheme: H2020- FETOPEN
Call identifier: H2020-FETOPEN-2016-2017

Coordinator: University of Liege
Local Coordinator: Prof. Elisabetta Collini, Prof. Barbara Fresch

COPAC is a transformative novel area in computing both because of the technology, coherent information transfer by ultrafast laser addressing of engineered quantum dots, QD, arrays and because of the specialized parallel processing of large amounts of information. We will make foundational experimental, theoretical and algorithmic innovations to demonstrate a new technological paradigm for ultrafast parallel multi-valued information processing. We aim to develop a ground-breaking nonlinear coherent spectroscopy combining optical addressing and spatially macroscopically resolved optical readout to achieve unprecedented levels of speed, density and complexity. Two key high-risk / high-reward pioneering elements are the quantum engineered coherent concatenation of units and the multidirectional optical detection. Experimental demonstrations on tailored multilayer QD arrays of increasing complexity, integration into a device and novel hardware and matched compilers will be delivered. Preliminary experimental demonstrations of the response of solutions and of QD films are available as is the validation of logic operation in parallel.

We use the dynamic response of the designed QD arrays to implement novel paradigms for parallel information processing. The discrete quantal level structure of nanosystems provides a memory at room temperature. Input will be provided simultaneously to all the levels by broadband laser pulses and the dynamical response will implement the logic in parallel. Disorder and environmental fluctuations are not detrimental because controlled level broadening is essential for the simultaneous multidirectional optical readout at the macroscopic level.

The long term vision of COPAC is the application of atomic and molecular state resolved controlled quantum dynamic processes towards information processing. Within this our targeted breakthrough is a novel prototype device for parallel logic engineered to industry standards and with suitable compilers.



Project acronym: CRESCENDO
Project title: Critical Raw material ElectrocatalystS replacement ENabling Designed pOst-2020 PEMFC
Grant Agreement Number: 779366
Duration: 36 months
Funding scheme: Horizon 2020 - FCH 2 JU
Call identifier: H2020-JTI-FCH-2017

Coordinator: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Local Coordinator: Prof. Gaetano Granozzi

CRESCENDO will develop highly active and long-term stable electrocatalysts of non-platinum group metal (non-PGM) catalysts for the PEMFC cathode using a range of complementary and convergent approaches, and will redesign the cathode catalyst layer so as to reach the project target power density and durability requirements of 0.42 W/cm2 at 0.7 V, and 1000 h with less than 30% performance loss at 1.5 A/cm2 after 1000 h under the FC-DLC, initially in small and ultimately full-size single cells tested in an industrial environment on an industrially scaled-up catalyst.

The proposal includes the goal of developing non-PGM or ultra-low PGM anode catalysts with greater tolerance to impurities than current low Pt-loaded anodes. It will develop and apply advanced diagnostics methods and tests, and characterisation tools for determination of active site density and to better understand performance degradation and mass transport losses. The proposal builds on previous achievements in non-PGM catalyst development within all of the university and research organisation project partners. It benefits from the unrivalled know-how in catalyst layer development at JMFC and the overarching expertise at BMW in cell and stack testing, and in guiding the materials development to align with systems requirements.



"Direct ElectroChemical Oxidation Reaction of Ethanol: optimization of the catalyst/support assembly for high temperature operation" (DECORE)

 Project acronym : DECORE
 Type of funding scheme: Collaborative project
 Call identifier: FP7-NMP-2011-SMALL-5

 Name of the coordinating persons: Prof. Gaetano Granozzi
 Institution: University of Padua

 Work programme topics addressed: NMP.2012.1.1-1: Rational design of nano-catalysts for sustainable energy production based on fundamental understanding

 The main general goal of DECORE is to achieve the fundamental knowledge needed for the development of a fuel cell (FC) electrode, which can operate efficiently (both in terms of activity and selectivity) as the anode of a direct ethanol (EOH) FC (DEFC) in the temperature range between 150-200 °C (intermediate-T). Such a technology is still lacking in the market. The choice for EOH as an alternative energy source is well founded on the abundance of bioethanol, and on the relatively simpler storage and use with respect to other energy carriers. The intermediate-T is required for an efficient and selective total conversion of EOH to CO2, so exploiting the maximum number of electrons in the DEFC. DECORE will explore the use of fully innovative supports (based on titanium oxycarbide, TiOxCy) and nano-catalysts (based on group 6 metal carbides, MCx, M=Mo,W), which have never been tested in literature as anodes for DEFCs. The new support is expected to be more durable than standard carbon supports at the targeted temperature. The innovative nano-catalysts would be noble-metal free, so reducing Europe’s reliance on imported precious metals. To tailor the needed materials, the active role of the support and nano-catalyst will be studied at atomic level. Demonstrating an activity of such nano-catalyst/support assembly at intermediate-T would open a novel route where DEFCs with strongly reduced production costs would have an impact on a fast industrialisation. The power range for the envisioned application is of the order of hundreds of Watts, i.e. the so called distributed generation, having an impact for devices such as weather stations, medical devices, signal units, auxiliary power units, gas sensors and security cameras. By the end of the project, a bench-top single DEFC operating at intermediate-T will be built and tested.
 1(Coordinator) Gaetano Granozzi, University of Padova (UNIPD)
 2 Julia Kunze, Technical University of München (TUM)
 3 Cristiana Di Valentin, University of Milano-Bicocca (UNIMIB)
 4 Matthias Arenz, University of Copenhagen (UCPH)
 5 Elena Pastor Tejera, University of Laguna, Tenerife (ULL)
 6 Alessandro Lavacchi, CNR(ICCOM)
 7 Martin Batzer, Elcomax GmbH (ELCO)


"Dynamic Covalent Capture: Dynamic Chemistry for Biomolecular Recognition and Catalysis"

Project acronym: DyCoCa
Type of funding scheme: ERC- Starting Grant
Call identifier:

Principal investigator: Prof. Leonard Prins

The objective of this research project is the development of a new methodology for studying and utilizing the noncovalent recognition between two molecular entities, focussing on biomolecular receptors and catalysts.



Project acronym: INSIGHT
Project title: New chemical detection methods based on NMR and nanoparticles
Grant Agreement Number: 640849
Duration: 18 months
Funding scheme: Horizon 2020 – ERC-PoC
Call identifier: H2020-ERC-2014-PoC

Principal Investigator: Prof. Fabrizio Mancin

Chemicals detection is a crucial problems that Chemistry is addressing since its origin and one of the most important in the everyday life (diagnosis, environment analysis). The most common analytical techniques (chromatography, mass spectrometry, Elisa assays) are able to efficiently separate and detect the target compound but provide only indirect information on its identity and may fail in the identification of new compounds. On the other hand, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometry is probably the most powerful technique in identifying organic compounds. Unfortunately, even if highly desired, a robust method that may allow the use of NMR for analysing mixtures of compounds does not exist.

The research activity carried out by Fabrizio Mancin as PI of the ERC project MOSAIC has recently led to the invention of “NMR sensing”, a new method that allow both the detection and identification of organic molecules, based on the use of NMR spectrometry and nanoparticles. In a simplified picture, the nanoparticles added to the sample are able to “capture” and “label” the target molecule in such a way that the NMR experiment sees only the target and is not disturbed by the other compounds present in the sample. In this way, detection, unambiguous identification and quantification of the analyte are simultaneously possible in a single experiment. This method, already covered by a Patent, showed excellent preliminary results and could find several application in the chemical analysis and diagnostic fields.

The goal of this Proof of Concept application is to bring the “NMR sensing” method at the level of an attractive commercial proposal. In particular, the plan include technical testing and preliminary product realization, recruitment of financial and management competencies, collection of information and data capable to indicate the best strategy to create of a start-up company to be presented to venture capitalists/industrial partners to raise further funding.


Project acronym: MMBio
Project title: Molecular Tools for Nucleic Acid Manipulation for Biological Intervention
Grant Agreement Number: 721613
Duration: 48 months
Funding scheme: Horizon 2020 - MSCA - ITN
Call identifier: H2020-MSCA-ITN-2016

Coordinator: The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of The University of Cambridge
Local Coordinator: Prof. Paolo Scrimin, Prof. Fabrizio Mancin


MMbio will bridge the classically separate disciplines of Chemistry and Biology by assembling leading experts from academia and non-academic partners (industry, technology transfer & science communication) to bring about systems designed to interfere therapeutically with gene expression in living cells. Expertise in nucleic acid synthesis, its molecular recognition and chemical reactivity is combined with drug delivery, cellular biology and experimental medicine. This project represents a concerted effort to make use of a basic and quantitative understanding of chemical interactions to develop and deliver oligonucleotide molecules of utility for therapy. Our chemical biology approach to this field is ambitious in its breadth and represents a unqiues opportunity to educate young scientists across sectorial and disciplinary barriers. Training will naturally encompass a wide range of skills, requiring a joint effort of chemists and biologists to introduce young researchers in a structured way to and array of research methodologies that no single research grouping could provide. The incorporation of early-stage and later stage biotechnology enterprises ensures that commercialisation of methodologies as well as the drug development process is covered in this ITN. We hope that MMBio will train scientists able to understand both the biological problem and the chemistry that holds the possible solution and develop original experimental approaches to stimulate European academic and commercial success in this area.


"MOSAIC: Patterning the surface of monolayer-protected nanoparticles to obtain intelligent nanodevices"

Project acronym: MOSAIC
Type of funding scheme: ERC Starting Grants
Call identifier:

Principal investigator: Prof. Fabrizio Mancin

Functional nanoparticles, where an inorganic nanocluster is stabilized by a monolayer of organic molecules, offer unmatched opportunity to build complex structures with simple building blocks and relatively simple manipulations. The main goal of the MOSAIC project is to gain the ability to hierarchically control the self-assembling of metal nanoparticles coating monolayers using supramolecular interactions and take advantage from such ability to obtain complex function from the materials realized.



Project acronym: MULTI-APP
Project title: Multivalent Molecular Systems for Innovative Applications
Grant Agreement Number: 642793
Type of funding scheme: H2020-MSCA-ITN
Name of the coordinating person: Prof. Leonard Prins
Coordinator: University of Padova

This network brings together the major academic players active in Europe on the fundamentals and application of multivalency and cooperativity. The network is complemented by industrial partners ranging in scale from a small spin-off to a large multinational. The main objective of this consortium is to raise a new generation of researchers able to develop complex chemical systems that harness cooperativity for enhanced functional properties.
Multivalency is one of Nature’s governing principles for achieving strong and selective biomolecular recognition. Many biological processes rely on the cooperative effects associated with the occurrence of multivalent interactions. Consequently, there is an enormous interest in the development of chemical multivalent systems that display similar features for innovative applications in fields as various as diagnostics, drug discovery, materials science and nanotechnology.
The central theme of multivalency and cooperativity is used to c


 "MULTI-valued and parallel molecular logic"

 Project acronym : MULTI
 Type of funding scheme: Collaborative project
 Call identifier: FP7-ICT-2011-8

 Name of the coordinating persons: Prof. Françoise Remacle

 Institution: Chimie Physique Théorique, Université de Liège, Belgium

 Name of the local Coordinator: Dr. Elisabetta Collini

MULTI aims at proposing a new approach to computing at the nanoscale that gives up the notion of the conventional Boolean ‘true-false’ switches. MULTI replaces the familiar sequential model of computation that uses Boolean variables by logic operations that are executed in parallel on devices that have a built-in many state memory and whose inputs and outputs are multivalued. MULTI seeks to design, simulate and experimentally implement proof of principle devices on the atomic and molecular scale.
 In MULTI a single atom, molecule or a supra(bio)molecular assembly acts as a logic element. MULTI plans to take advantage of internal degrees of freedom of such atoms or molecules to implement unconventional logic operations by electrical addressing in the solid state and/or by optical addressing in solution.
 Benefits of MULTI approach are higher information rates for inputs and outputs, enhanced rates of processing due to parallelism and computing in memory and exploration of continuous logic.


Project acronym: NANOCARB
Project title: Self-selection of a multivalent nanosystem for carbohydrate recognition
Grant Agreement Number: 657486
Type of funding scheme: H2020-MSCA-IF
Name of the coordinating person: Prof. Leonard Prins
Coordinator: University of Padova

The main objective of the NANOCARB project is to prepare the experienced researcher (ER) for an independent career through the implementation of a frontier research project and a training programme covering all aspects that are required for running a research group. The NANOCARB project has the scientific objective to build up an original method for the development of an innovative class of carbohydrate receptors using dynamic combinatorial chemistry (DCC) on the surface of a gold nanoparticle. Molecular receptors capable of carbohydrate recognition have a great potential in diagnostics and therapeutics. However, this prospective is still remote as it has turned out that designing synthetic receptor molecules able to selectively bind carbohydrates in water is very difficult. The distinguishing feature of this project is that the recognition site for the carbohydrate target is spontaneously formed, driven by the carbohydrate target itself. The self-selected recognition units will then be immobilized covalently on the gold nanoparticle, yielding a multivalent nanosystem able to recognize its target also in vivo.
The project is on the interphase between chemistry, biology and nanotechnology providing an excellent opportunity for the experienced researcher (ER) to develop skills in these areas. Training excellence within the context of becoming independent researcher will involve manuscript and research proposal preparation, public engagement, IPR issues, networking, and conference organization. The project also benefits from external input and a secondment from other groups (Prof. Lay, University of Milan and Prof. Lombardi, University of Piemonte Orientale) in order to fill lacunes not available at the host institution. The combined package of scientific and training objectives will make the NANOCARB project an excellent platform for kick-starting the independent career of the ER and generating a strong visibility to the host institution.


"Development of NEXT GENeration cost efficient automotive CATalysts"

 Project acronym : NEXT-GEN-CAT
 Type of funding scheme: Collaborative project
 Call identifier: FP7-NMP-2011-SMALL-5

 Name of the coordinating persons: Dr. Fotios Katsaros
 Institution: NATIONAL CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH "DEMOKRITOS" Institute of Physical chemistry /Nanomaterials & Membranes

 Name of the local Coordinator: Prof. A. Glisenti

 The main objective of NEXTGENCAT proposal is the development of novel eco-friendly nano-structured automotive catalysts utilizing transition metal based nanoparticles that can partially or completely replace the Platinum Group Metals. Based on nanotechnology, low cost nanoparticles will be incorporated into different substrates for the development of efficient and inexpensive catalysts.


"Phonon-Assisted Processes for Energy Tranfer and Sensing"

Project acronym : PAPETS
Type of funding scheme: Collaborative project
Call identifier: FP7-ICT-2013-C

Name of the coordinating persons: Dr. Yasser Omar
Institution: Instituto de Telecomunicações, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal

Name of the local Coordinator: Dr. Elisabetta Collini

There is mounting experimental and theoretical evidence that suggests that coherent coupling of electronic processes to specific vibrational dynamics is essential to selectively drive physiological processes. This project addresses this newly emerging frontier between biology and quantum physics by aiming to determine the role of coherent vibrational dynamics in the efficiency of energy storage in natural and artificial light harvesting systems, as well as in odour recognition. Although these are at first sight two very different biological processes, in both cases their effectiveness is now believed to rely on phonon-assisted mechanisms. In fact, more generally, it is becoming increasingly clear that vibrational dynamics plays a key role in establishing the fundamental connection between structure and function of protein complexes.



Project acronym: PARTIAL-PGMs
Project title: Development of novel, high Performance hybrid TWV/GPF Automotive afteR treatment systems by raTIonAL design: substitution of PGMs and Rare earth materials
Grant Agreement Number: 686086
Duration: 36 months
Funding scheme: Horizon 2020 - NMP
Call identifier: H2020-NMP-2014-2015 

Coordinator: Warrant Group Srl
Local Coordinator: Prof. Antonella Glisenti

To date, three-way catalytic converters (TWCs) have been established as the most effective engine exhaust after treatment system. However, TWCs not only fail to address the issue of particulate matter (PM) emissions but are also the main industrial consumer of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) mainly Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) and Rare Earth elements (REEs), with the automotive industry accounting for 65%-80% of total EU PGMs demand. The enforcement of new limits on PM emissions (EURO 6c/7) will require higher TWC performance, hence leading to further increase the CRMs content in autocatalysts.

Addressing the necessity of CRMs reduction in catalysis, PARTIAL-PGMs proposes an integrated approach for the rational design of innovative nanostructured materials of low/zero PGMs/REEs content for a hybrid TWC/Gasoline Particulate Filter (GPF) for automotive emissions after-treatment with continuous particulates combustion also focusing on identifying and fine-tuning the parameters involved in their preparation, characterization and performance evaluation under realistic conditions.

PARTIAL-PGMs approach is broad, covering multiscale modeling, synthesis and nanomaterials’ characterization, performance evaluation under realistic conditions as well as recyclability, health impact analysis and Life Cycle Assessment. The rational synthesis of nanomaterials to be used in these hybrid systems will allow for a reduction of more than 35% in PGMs and 20% in REEs content, either by increasing performance or by their replacement with transition metals. The compact nature of the new hybrid system not only will allow its accommodation in smaller cars but will also reduce cold start emissions and light-off times with performance aiming to anticipate both future emission control regulations and new advances in engines technology. Such R&D progress in autocatalysts is expected to pave the way to the widespread use of such low CRMs content materials in other catalytic applications.




Project acronym: PFCsByPlasCat
Project title: Perfluorinated Organic Compounds (PFCs) Degradation using Non-Thermal Plasma Enhanced by Boron Doped Graphene Oxide as Catalyst
Grant Agreement Number: 898422
Duration: 24 months
Funding scheme: H2020-MSCA-IF (Standard European Fellowships)
Call identifier: H2020-MSCA-IF-2019

Coordinator: University of Padova (UNIPD)
Supervisor: Prof. Cristina Paradisi
Fellow: Dr. Kubra Altuntas

Perfluorinated compounds are a group of toxic chemicals that persist in the environment for long periods. These man-made chemicals have been detected in drinking water and groundwater, raising serious concerns about human health. So far, advanced oxidation processes, including Fenton reagents, ozone oxidants, ultraviolet light or catalysts, have shown limited success in reducing and removing these chemicals. The EU-funded PFCsByPlasCat project will test an alternative treatment option known as non-thermal plasmas that produces several reactive species at a time. Various nanocatalysts will be tested, including boron-doped graphene oxide, to maximise the efficiency of the novel hybrid plasma–catalyst process. Real samples of contaminated groundwater will be tested to validate the process.



Project acronym: PhosChemRec
Project title: Recognition and Cleavage of Biological Phosphates.: Molecular Recognition, Mechanism and Biomedical Applications
Grant Agreement Number:  238679
Type of funding scheme: MSCA-ITN
Name of the coordinating person:  Prof. Florian Hollfelder
Coordinator: University of Cambridge, UK
Local Coordinator: Prof. Paolo Scrimin

Research in this network is centred around understanding the central biological process of phosphate transfer and combines experts in synthetic chemistry, enzyme model building, kinetic analysis, protein chemistry and directed evolution in a concerted effort to gain a quantitative understanding of transition states that are key to understanding how biological systems can achieve phosphate transfer with unrivalled efficiency. Efficiency is also key for drugs, prodrugs or drug delivery reagents that target phosphate bonds.