Development of metal nanoparticles with improved optical properties
Nanoplasmonics studies the excitation of surface plasmon resonances on metal nanostructures and their potential technological applications. Localized surface plasmons arise from the interaction between light and the conduction electrons in nanostructured metals, yielding bright colors in colloid metal nanoparticles. These colors can be tuned by changing different parameters such as the size, shape, and composition of the particles, but also the dielectric nature of the surrounding environment. These localized surface plasmons give rise to high electric fields at the metallic surface, which can be controlled and amplified from colloidal self-assembly. This research line focuses on the investigation of all these effects and the search of new perspectives for designing devices with applications in a wide variety of fields.
Nanovectorization of Nucleic Acids with Lipid and/or Supramolecular Nanoparticles. Application in Gene Therapy Against Cancer.
The aim of curing diseases with new gene therapy protocols involves having a deep knowledge and control over the stages of the cell transfection process: the first, focused on good compaction and transport of the nucleic acid (pDNA or siRNA ) through the cell membrane; and the second, aimed at the controlled release of genetic material in the appropriate cellular environment. With these objectives and a strong multidisciplinary approach, this research line focuses on the search and biophysical and biochemical characterization of new efficient and safe non-viral gene nanovectors, based on lipid and/or supramolecular matrices and plasmonic gold nanoparticles for their application in cancer gene therapy.
Modelling of physical-chemical systems in the nanoscale
Advances in colloidal science have been always closely linked to our understanding of surface intermolecular forces. Bulk colloid aggregation, growth of gold nanoparticles, micelle formation and supramolecular assembly are all but different themes in the subtle balance of intermolecular forces. Current state of the art understanding of molecular interactions allows us to model the process of self-assembly from the mesoscopic to the atomic scale. Whether using tools of statistical thermodynamcis, or a dedicated computer program in a High Performance computing infrastructure, we seek to achieve an atomic scale understanding of complex self-assembly processes such as micelle formation or crystal growth.
Design and synthesis of organic nanomaterials
Covalent organic frameworks constitute an emerging class of fully designable organic porous polymers which display high crystallinity and stability. Tuning the size, symmetry and connectivity of the monomers, the geometry and topology of the resulting network can be successfully tailored for outstanding applications. In this context, our expertise can provide novel molecular platforms for the fabrication of nanoparticle polymers with emerging plasmonic properties that are appealing to a variety of fields as nanophotonics, catalysis, energy conversion, sensing, etc..