ICN2 Publications

2021

  • A Direct Z-Scheme for the Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production from a Water Ethanol Mixture on CoTiO3/TiO2Heterostructures

    Xing C., Liu Y., Zhang Y., Wang X., Guardia P., Yao L., Han X., Zhang T., Arbiol J., Soler L., Chen Y., Sivula K., Guijarro N., Cabot A., Llorca J. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces; 13 (1): 449 - 457. 2021. 10.1021/acsami.0c17004. IF: 8.758

    Supramolecular NanoChemistry and Materials | Oxide Nanophysics | Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    Photocatalytic H2 evolution from ethanol dehydrogenation is a convenient strategy to store solar energy in a highly valuable fuel with potential zero net CO2 balance. Herein, we report on the synthesis of CoTiO3/TiO2 composite catalysts with controlled amounts of highly distributed CoTiO3 nanodomains for photocatalytic ethanol dehydrogenation. We demonstrate these materials to provide outstanding hydrogen evolution rates under UV and visible illumination. The origin of this enhanced activity is extensively analyzed. In contrast to previous assumptions, UV-vis absorption spectra and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS) prove CoTiO3/TiO2 heterostructures to have a type II band alignment, with the conduction band minimum of CoTiO3 below the H2/H+ energy level. Additional steady-state photoluminescence (PL) spectra, time-resolved PL spectra (TRPLS), and electrochemical characterization prove such heterostructures to result in enlarged lifetimes of the photogenerated charge carriers. These experimental evidence point toward a direct Z-scheme as the mechanism enabling the high photocatalytic activity of CoTiO3/TiO2 composites toward ethanol dehydrogenation. In addition, we probe small changes of temperature to strongly modify the photocatalytic activity of the materials tested, which could be used to further promote performance in a solar thermophotocatalytic reactor. ©


  • A First-Principles Investigation on the Electronic and Mechanical Properties of 1T TiSe2Multilayers for Energy Storage

    Antonio J.E., Cervantes J.M., Rosas-Huerta J.L., Pilo J., Carvajal E., Escamilla R. Journal of the Electrochemical Society; 168 (3, 030531) 2021. 10.1149/1945-7111/abed29. IF: 3.721

    Theory and Simulation

    In this work, the electronic and mechanical properties of bulk TiSe2 were studied, and the effects of confinement on the compound, into mono-, bi-, and tri-layered systems, on the electronic and mechanical properties using DFT-based calculations within the Generalized Gradient Approximation (GGA) using Perdew-Burke-Ernzerhof (PBE) exchange-correlation functional. Lithium atoms were placed at different adsorption sites of the TiSe2 monolayer to study the consequences on the electronic and mechanical properties and to identify the most favourable adsorption site for Li in the TiSe2 systems. Mono -, bi-, and tri-layered systems have associated a metallic behaviour, similar to the bulk material. Young's modulus for mono-, bi-, and tri-layered systems show similar behaviour to the bulk case. On the other hand, monolayers with Li are metallic when Li atoms are placed at the surface; and this behaviour could be favourable to facilitate electronic transport by the monolayer. Finally, the mechanical properties analysis supported that the better adsorption sites are those labelled as Top and Hollow. © 2021 The Electrochemical Society ("ECS"). Published on behalf of ECS by IOP Publishing Limited.


  • A generalized approach for evaluating the mechanical properties of polymer nanocomposites reinforced with spherical fillers

    Martinez-Garcia J.C., Serraïma-Ferrer A., Lopeandía-Fernández A., Lattuada M., Sapkota J., Rodríguez-Viejo J. Nanomaterials; 11 (4, 830) 2021. 10.3390/nano11040830. IF: 4.324

    Thermal Properties of Nanoscale Materials

    In this work, the effective mechanical reinforcement of polymeric nanocomposites containing spherical particle fillers is predicted based on a generalized analytical three-phase-series-parallel model, considering the concepts of percolation and the interfacial glassy region. While the concept of percolation is solely taken as a contribution of the filler-network, we herein show that the glassy interphase between filler and matrix, which is often in the nanometers range, is also to be considered while interpreting enhanced mechanical properties of particulate filled polymeric nanocomposites. To demonstrate the relevance of the proposed generalized equation, we have fitted several experimental results which show a good agreement with theoretical predictions. Thus, the approach presented here can be valuable to elucidate new possible conceptual routes for the creation of new materials with fundamental technological applications and can open a new research avenue for future studies. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Additive engineering for stable halide perovskite solar cells

    Pereyra C., Xie H., Lira-Cantu M. Journal of Energy Chemistry; 60: 599 - 634. 2021. 10.1016/j.jechem.2021.01.037. IF: 7.216

    Nanostructured Materials for Photovoltaic Energy

    Halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have already demonstrated power conversion efficiencies above 25%, which makes them one of the most attractive photovoltaic technologies. However, one of the main bottlenecks towards their commercialization is their long-term stability, which should exceed the 20-year mark. Additive engineering is an effective pathway for the enhancement of device lifetime. Additives applied as organic or inorganic compounds, improve crystal grain growth enhancing power conversion efficiency. The interaction of their functional groups with the halide perovskite (HP) absorber, as well as with the transport layers, results in defect passivation and ion immobilization improving device performance and stability. In this review, we briefly summarize the different types of additives recently applied in PSC to enhance not only efficiency but also long-term stability. We discuss the different mechanism behind additive engineering and the role of the functional groups of these additives for defect passivation. Special emphasis is given to their effect on the stability of PSCs under environmental conditions such as humidity, atmosphere, light irradiation (UV, visible) or heat, taking into account the recently reported ISOS protocols. We also discuss the relation between deep-defect passivation, non-radiative recombination and device efficiency, as well as the possible relation between shallow-defect passivation, ion immobilization and device operational stability. Finally, insights into the challenge and criteria for additive selection are provided for the further stability enhancement of PSCs. © 2021 Science Press


  • Adenoviral Mediated Delivery of OSKM Factors Induces Partial Reprogramming of Mouse Cardiac Cells In Vivo

    Kisby T., de Lázaro I., Fisch S., Cartwright E.J., Cossu G., Kostarelos K. Advanced Therapeutics; 4 (2, 2000141) 2021. 10.1002/adtp.202000141. IF: 0.000

    Nanomedicine

    The induction of in vivo reprogramming toward pluripotency has been demonstrated in several tissues utilizing either transgenic inducible mice or gene delivery approaches. However, the effects of exogenous reprogramming factor expression in the mammalian heart have not been previously reported. The present study aims to investigate the response of cardiac cells to ectopic Oct3/4, Sox2, Klf4, and cMyc (OSKM) expression in vivo using a non-integrating adenoviral vector. Direct intramyocardial injection of this vector achieves effective and transient OSKM overexpression in the healthy heart and after myocardial infarction. The expression of these factors induces transient upregulation of a number of endogenous pluripotency (endo-Oct3/4, Gdf3) and reprogramming related (Cdh1, Fut4) genes, confirming the induction of cell reprogramming. Despite the initiation of reprogramming, markers of fully de-differentiated cells including Nanog remain silenced, consistent with a partially reprogrammed state. Furthermore, no indications of tumorigenesis or teratoma formation are observed. Overall, these data suggest that adenoviral mediated OSKM delivery can be utilized to induce partial in vivo reprogramming. However, the absence of any clear regenerative effects after myocardial infarction indicates that further optimization of vector mediated reprogramming strategies is essential to overcome barriers to therapeutic efficacy. © 2020 The Authors. Advanced Therapeutics published by Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Antibacterial activity testing methods for hydrophobic patterned surfaces

    Perez-Gavilan A., de Castro J.V., Arana A., Merino S., Retolaza A., Alves S.A., Francone A., Kehagias N., Sotomayor-Torres C.M., Cocina D., Mortera R., Crapanzano S., Pelegrín C.J., Garrigos M.C., Jiménez A., Galindo B., Araque M.C., Dykeman D., Neves N.M., Marimón J.M. Scientific Reports; 11 (1, 6675) 2021. 10.1038/s41598-021-85995-9. IF: 3.998

    Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures

    One strategy to decrease the incidence of hospital-acquired infections is to avoid the survival of pathogens in the environment by the development of surfaces with antimicrobial activity. To study the antibacterial behaviour of active surfaces, different approaches have been developed of which ISO 22916 is the standard. To assess the performance of different testing methodologies to analyse the antibacterial activity of hydrophobic surface patterned plastics as part of a Horizon 2020 European research project. Four different testing methods were used to study the antibacterial activity of a patterned film, including the ISO 22916 standard, the immersion method, the touch-transfer inoculation method, and the swab inoculation method, this latter developed specifically for this project. The non-realistic test conditions of the ISO 22916 standard showed this method to be non-appropriate in the study of hydrophobic patterned surfaces. The immersion method also showed no differences between patterned films and smooth controls due to the lack of attachment of testing bacteria on both surfaces. The antibacterial activity of films could be demonstrated by the touch-transfer and the swab inoculation methods, that more precisely mimicked the way of high-touch surfaces contamination, and showed to be the best methodologies to test the antibacterial activity of patterned hydrophobic surfaces. A new ISO standard would be desirable as the reference method to study the antibacterial behaviour of patterned surfaces. © 2021, The Author(s).


  • Antibody cooperative adsorption onto AuNPs and its exploitation to force natural killer cells to kill HIV-infected T cells

    Astorga-Gamaza A., Vitali M., Borrajo M.L., Suárez-López R., Jaime C., Bastus N., Serra-Peinado C., Luque-Ballesteros L., Blanch-Lombarte O., Prado J.G., Lorente J., Pumarola F., Pellicer M., Falcó V., Genescà M., Puntes V., Buzon M.J. Nano Today; 36 (101056) 2021. 10.1016/j.nantod.2020.101056. IF: 16.907

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    HIV represents a persistent infection which negatively alters the immune system. New tools to reinvigorate different immune cell populations to impact HIV are needed. Herein, a novel nanotool for the specific enhancement of the natural killer (NK) immune response towards HIV-infected T-cells has been developed. Bispecific Au nanoparticles (BiAb-AuNPs), dually conjugated with IgG anti-HIVgp120 and IgG anti-human CD16 antibodies, were generated by a new controlled, linker-free and cooperative conjugation method promoting the ordered distribution and segregation of antibodies in domains. The cooperatively-adsorbed antibodies fully retained the capabilities to recognize their cognate antigen and were able to significantly enhance cell-to-cell contact between HIV-expressing cells and NK cells. As a consequence, the BiAb-AuNPs triggered a potent cytotoxic response against HIV-infected cells in blood and human tonsil explants. Remarkably, the BiAb-AuNPs were able to significantly reduce latent HIV infection after viral reactivation in a primary cell model of HIV latency. This novel molecularly-targeted strategy using a bispecific nanotool to enhance the immune system represents a new approximation with potential applications beyond HIV. © 2020 The Authors


  • Assessing Nickel Titanium Binary Systems Using Structural Search Methods and Ab Initio Calculations

    Lang L., Payne A., Valencia-Jaime I., Verstraete M.J., Bautista-Hernández A., Romero A.H. Journal of Physical Chemistry C; 125 (2): 1578 - 1591. 2021. 10.1021/acs.jpcc.0c10453. IF: 4.189

    Nickel titanium, also know as nitinol, is a prototypical shape memory alloy, a property intimately linked to a phase transition in the microstructure, which allows the meso/macroscopic sample shape to be recovered after thermal cycling. Not much is known about the other alloys in this binary system, which prompted our computational investigation of other compositions. In this work, structures are found by probing the potential energy surfaces of NiTi binary systems using a minima hopping method, in combination with ab initio electronic structure calculations. We find stable structures in 34 different stoichiometries and calculate derived physical properties of the low energy phases. From the results of this analysis a new convex hull is formed that is lower in energy than those in the Materials Project and Open Quantum Materials Databases. Two previously unreported phases are discovered for the NiTi2 and Ni5Ti compositions, and two metastable states in NiTi and NiTi2 shows signs of negative linear compression and negative Poisson ratio, respectively. ©


  • Atomically dispersed Fe in a C2N Based Catalyst as a Sulfur Host for Efficient Lithium–Sulfur Batteries

    Liang Z., Yang D., Tang P., Zhang C., Jacas Biendicho J., Zhang Y., Llorca J., Wang X., Li J., Heggen M., David J., Dunin-Borkowski R.E., Zhou Y., Morante J.R., Cabot A., Arbiol J. Advanced Energy Materials; 11 (5, 2003507) 2021. 10.1002/aenm.202003507. IF: 25.245

    Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    Lithium–sulfur batteries (LSBs) are considered to be one of the most promising next generation energy storage systems due to their high energy density and low material cost. However, there are still some challenges for the commercialization of LSBs, such as the sluggish redox reaction kinetics and the shuttle effect of lithium polysulfides (LiPS). Here a 2D layered organic material, C2N, loaded with atomically dispersed iron as an effective sulfur host in LSBs is reported. X-ray absorption fine spectroscopy and density functional theory calculations prove the structure of the atomically dispersed Fe/C2N catalyst. As a result, Fe/C2N-based cathodes demonstrate significantly improved rate performance and long-term cycling stability. Fe/C2N-based cathodes display initial capacities up to 1540 mAh g−1 at 0.1 C and 678.7 mAh g−1 at 5 C, while retaining 496.5 mAh g−1 after 2600 cycles at 3 C with a decay rate as low as 0.013% per cycle. Even at a high sulfur loading of 3 mg cm−2, they deliver remarkable specific capacity retention of 587 mAh g−1 after 500 cycles at 1 C. This work provides a rational structural design strategy for the development of high-performance cathodes based on atomically dispersed catalysts for LSBs. © 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Coordination polymers nanoparticles for bioimaging

    Suárez-García S., Solórzano R., Novio F., Alibés R., Busqué F., Ruiz-Molina D. Coordination Chemistry Reviews; 432 (213716) 2021. 10.1016/j.ccr.2020.213716. IF: 15.637

    Nanostructured Functional Materials

    Early diagnosis of patient diseases is subjected to the appropriate use of bioimaging techniques. For this reason, the development of contrast agents that improve and enhance the response of current clinical imaging practices is a pressing concern. Non-invasive bioimaging techniques most often need specific probes to follow and measure biological routes in living systems. These molecular imaging agents must exhibit: I) a remarkable contrast effect, i.e. a high signal-to-noise ratio under real physiological conditions, II) pronounced in vivo stability under the effect of numerous enzymes or proteases present in serum or targeted tissue equilibrated with a fast clearance from healthy organs and III) low cost and eco-friendly production. To overcome current drawbacks that hindrance the full development of the different bioimaging techniques, several groups are exploring nanoparticles as contrast agents. In this scenario, coordination polymer nanoparticles have emerged as a handy platform offering predesigned unique advantages thanks to their chemical flexibility, structural diversity and tailoring skills. Indeed, these systems reveal high metal cargos, low toxicity and multifunctional character by adequately selecting the combination of metal ions and ligands. Moreover, in a reminiscent way of organic polymeric nanoparticles, coordination polymer nanoparticles have also demonstrated its ability to encapsulate therapeutic-active molecules, thus combining diagnostic and therapeutic functionalities, the so-called Theranostic nanomedicine. For all these reasons, the use of this family of nanoparticles as imaging contrast agents has attracted broad interest over the last years with numerous examples being reported. Herein, we review main accomplishments in the area grouped according to the used technology, including magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, optical imaging, radioimaging or photoacoustic imaging. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • COVID-19 biosensing technologies

    Merkoçi A., Li C.-Z., Lechuga L.M., Ozcan A. Biosensors and Bioelectronics; 178 (113046) 2021. 10.1016/j.bios.2021.113046. IF: 10.257

    NanoBiosensors and Bioanalytical Applications | Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors

    [No abstract available]


  • Deep Tissue Translocation of Graphene Oxide Sheets in Human Glioblastoma 3D Spheroids and an Orthotopic Xenograft Model

    de Lázaro I., Sharp P., Gurcan C., Ceylan A., Stylianou M., Kisby T., Chen Y., Vranic S., Barr K., Taheri H., Ozen A., Bussy C., Yilmazer A., Kostarelos K. Advanced Therapeutics; 4 (1, 2000109) 2021. 10.1002/adtp.202000109. IF: 0.000

    Nanomedicine

    Its anatomical localization, a highly heterogeneous and drug-resistant tumor cell population and a “cold” immune microenvironment, all challenge the treatment of glioblastoma. Nanoscale drug delivery systems, including graphene oxide (GO) flakes, may circumvent some of these issues bypassing biological barriers, delivering multiple cargoes to impact several pathways simultaneously, or targeting the immune compartment. Here, the interactions of GO flakes with in vitro (U-87 MG three-dimensional spheroids, without stromal or immune compartments) and in vivo (U-87 MG orthotopic xenograft) models of glioblastoma are investigated. In vitro, GO flakes translocated deeply into the spheroids with little internalization in tumor cells. In vivo, intracranially administered GO also show extensive distribution throughout the tumor and demonstrate no impact on tumor growth and progression for the duration of the study. Internalization within tumor cells is also scarce, with the majority of flakes preferentially taken up by microglia/macrophages. The results indicate that GO flakes could offer deep and homogenous distribution throughout glioblastoma tumors and a means to target their myeloid compartment. Further studies are warranted to investigate the mechanisms of GO flakes transport within the tumor mass and their capacity to deliver bioactive cargoes but, ultimately, this information could inform the development of immunotherapies against glioblastoma. © 2020 The Authors. Published by Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Disentangling Orbital and Valley Hall Effects in Bilayers of Transition Metal Dichalcogenides

    Cysne T.P., Costa M., Canonico L.M., Nardelli M.B., Muniz R.B., Rappoport T.G. Physical Review Letters; 126 (5, 056601) 2021. 10.1103/PhysRevLett.126.056601. IF: 8.385

    Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience

    It has been recently shown that monolayers of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) in the 2H structural phase exhibit relatively large orbital Hall conductivity plateaus within their energy band gaps, where their spin Hall conductivities vanish [Canonico et al., Phys. Rev. B 101, 161409 (2020)PRBMDO2469-995010.1103/PhysRevB.101.161409; Bhowal and Satpathy, Phys. Rev. B 102, 035409 (2020)PRBMDO2469-995010.1103/PhysRevB.102.035409]. However, since the valley Hall effect (VHE) in these systems also generates a transverse flow of orbital angular momentum, it becomes experimentally challenging to distinguish between the two effects in these materials. The VHE requires inversion symmetry breaking to occur, which takes place in the TMD monolayers but not in the bilayers. We show that a bilayer of 2H-MoS2 is an orbital Hall insulator that exhibits a sizeable orbital Hall effect in the absence of both spin and valley Hall effects. This phase can be characterized by an orbital Chern number that assumes the value CL=2 for the 2H-MoS2 bilayer and CL=1 for the monolayer, confirming the topological nature of these orbital-Hall insulator systems. Our results are based on density functional theory and low-energy effective model calculations and strongly suggest that bilayers of TMDs are highly suitable platforms for direct observation of the orbital Hall insulating phase in two-dimensional materials. Implications of our findings for attempts to observe the VHE in TMD bilayers are also discussed. © 2021 American Physical Society.


  • Doping-mediated stabilization of copper vacancies to promote thermoelectric properties of Cu2−xS

    Zhang Y., Xing C., Liu Y., Spadaro M.C., Wang X., Li M., Xiao K., Zhang T., Guardia P., Lim K.H., Moghaddam A.O., Llorca J., Arbiol J., Ibáñez M., Cabot A. Nano Energy; 85 (105991) 2021. 10.1016/j.nanoen.2021.105991. IF: 16.602

    Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    Copper chalcogenides are outstanding thermoelectric materials for applications in the medium-high temperature range. Among different chalcogenides, while Cu2−xSe is characterized by higher thermoelectric figures of merit, Cu2−xS provides advantages in terms of low cost and element abundance. In the present work, we investigate the effect of different dopants to enhance the Cu2−xS performance and also its thermal stability. Among the tested options, Pb-doped Cu2−xS shows the highest improvement in stability against sulfur volatilization. Additionally, Pb incorporation allows tuning charge carrier concentration, which enables a significant improvement of the power factor. We demonstrate here that the introduction of an optimal additive amount of just 0.3% results in a threefold increase of the power factor in the middle-temperature range (500–800 K) and a record dimensionless thermoelectric figure of merit above 2 at 880 K. © 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Effect of the Annealing Atmosphere on Crystal Phase and Thermoelectric Properties of Copper Sulfide

    Li M., Liu Y., Zhang Y., Han X., Zhang T., Zuo Y., Xie C., Xiao K., Arbiol J., Llorca J., Ibáñez M., Liu J., Cabot A. ACS Nano; 2021. 10.1021/acsnano.0c09866. IF: 14.588

    Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    Cu2-xS has become one of the most promising thermoelectric materials for application in the middle-high temperature range. Its advantages include the abundance, low cost, and safety of its elements and a high performance at relatively elevated temperatures. However, stability issues limit its operation current and temperature, thus calling for the optimization of the material performance in the middle temperature range. Here, we present a synthetic protocol for large scale production of covellite CuS nanoparticles at ambient temperature and atmosphere, and using water as a solvent. The crystal phase and stoichiometry of the particles are afterward tuned through an annealing process at a moderate temperature under inert or reducing atmosphere. While annealing under argon results in Cu1.8S nanopowder with a rhombohedral crystal phase, annealing in an atmosphere containing hydrogen leads to tetragonal Cu1.96S. High temperature X-ray diffraction analysis shows the material annealed in argon to transform to the cubic phase at ca. 400 K, while the material annealed in the presence of hydrogen undergoes two phase transitions, first to hexagonal and then to the cubic structure. The annealing atmosphere, temperature, and time allow adjustment of the density of copper vacancies and thus tuning of the charge carrier concentration and material transport properties. In this direction, the material annealed under Ar is characterized by higher electrical conductivities but lower Seebeck coefficients than the material annealed in the presence of hydrogen. By optimizing the charge carrier concentration through the annealing time, Cu2-xS with record figures of merit in the middle temperature range, up to 1.41 at 710 K, is obtained. We finally demonstrate that this strategy, based on a low-cost and scalable solution synthesis process, is also suitable for the production of high performance Cu2-xS layers using high throughput and cost-effective printing technologies. © 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • Effects of solar irradiation on thermally driven CO2 methanation using Ni/CeO2–based catalyst

    Golovanova V., Spadaro M.C., Arbiol J., Golovanov V., Rantala T.T., Andreu T., Morante J.R. Applied Catalysis B: Environmental; 291 (120038) 2021. 10.1016/j.apcatb.2021.120038. IF: 16.683

    Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    Utilization of the renewable energy sources is one of the main challenges in the state-of-the-art technologies for CO2 recycling. Here we have taken advantage of the solar light harvesting in the thermocatalytic approach to carbon dioxide methanation. The large-surface-area Ni/CeO2 catalyst produced by a scalable low-cost method was characterized and tested in the dark and under solar light irradiation conditions. Light-assisted CO2 conversion experiments as well as in-situ DRIFT spectrometry, performed at different illumination intensities, have revealed a dual effect of the incident photons on the catalytic properties of the two-component Ni/CeO2 catalyst. On the one hand, absorbed photons induce a localized surface plasmon resonance in the Ni nanoparticles followed by dissipation of the heat to the oxide matrix. On the other hand, the illumination activates the photocatalytic properties of the CeO2 support, which leads to an increase in the concentration of the intermediates being precursor for methane production. Analysis of the methane production at different temperatures and illumination conditions has shown that the methanation reaction in our case is controlled by a photothermally-activated process. The used approach has allowed us to increase the reaction rate up to 2.4 times and consequently to decrease the power consumption by 20 % under solar illumination, thus replacing the conventional thermal activation of the reaction with a green energy source. © 2021 The Authors


  • Elucidating pore chemistry within metal-organic frameworksviasingle crystal X-ray diffraction; from fundamental understanding to application

    Albalad J., Sumby C.J., Maspoch D., Doonan C.J. CrystEngComm; 23 (11): 2185 - 2195. 2021. 10.1039/d1ce00067e. IF: 3.117

    Supramolecular NanoChemistry and Materials

    Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have made inroads in diverse chemical sectors due to the essentially limitless combination of building units and the ability to post-synthetically modify their pore chemistry at the molecular level. The crystalline nature of MOFs permits the use of single crystal X-ray diffraction (SCXRD) to obtain crystallographic snapshots of these transformations, providing invaluable information into the unorthodox chemistry that MOFs can potentially offer. This highlight article aims to provide the reader with the most recent milestones in the use of SCXRD as a vanguard technique to connect molecular-level pore engineering of MOFs with new application fields hitherto unexplored. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2021.


  • Encapsulation and sedimentation of nanomaterials through complex coacervation

    González-Monje P., Ayala García A., Ruiz-Molina D., Roscini C. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science; 589: 500 - 510. 2021. 10.1016/j.jcis.2020.12.067. IF: 7.489

    Nanostructured Functional Materials

    Hypothesis: Nanoparticles removal from seawage water is a health and environmental challenge, due to the increasing use of these materials of excellent colloidal stability. Herein we hypothesize to reach this objective through complex coacervation, a straightforward, low-cost process, normally accomplished with non-toxic and biodegradable macromolecules. Highly dense polymer-rich colloidal droplets (the coacervates) obtained from a reversible charge-driven phase separation, entrap suspended nanomaterials, allowing their settling and potential recovery. Experiments: In this work we apply this process to highly stable aqueous colloidal dispersions of different surface charge, size, type and state (solid or liquid). We systematically investigate the effects of the biopolymers excess and the nanomaterials concentration and charge on the encapsulation and sedimentation efficiency and rate. This strategy is also applied to real laboratory water-based wastes. Findings: Long-lasting colloidal suspensions are succesfully destabilized through coacervate formation, which ensures high nanomaterials encapsulation efficiencies (~85%), payloads and highly tranparent supernatants (%T ~90%), within two hours. Lower polymer excess induces faster clearance and less sediments, while preserving effective nanomaterials removal. Preliminary experiments also validate the method for the clearance of real water residuals, making complex coacervation a promising scalable, low-cost and ecofriendly alternative to concentrate, separate or recover suspended micro/nanomaterials from aqueous sludges. © 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Exploiting the Lability of Metal Halide Perovskites for Doping Semiconductor Nanocomposites

    Calcabrini M., Genç A., Liu Y., Kleinhanns T., Lee S., Dirin D.N., Akkerman Q.A., Kovalenko M.V., Arbiol J., Ibáñez M. ACS Energy Letters; 6 (2): 581 - 587. 2021. 10.1021/acsenergylett.0c02448. IF: 19.003

    Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    Cesium lead halides have intrinsically unstable crystal lattices and easily transform within perovskite and nonperovskite structures. In this work, we explore the conversion of the perovskite CsPbBr3 into Cs4PbBr6 in the presence of PbS at 450 °C to produce doped nanocrystal-based composites with embedded Cs4PbBr6 nanoprecipitates. We show that PbBr2 is extracted from CsPbBr3 and diffuses into the PbS lattice with a consequent increase in the concentration of free charge carriers. This new doping strategy enables the adjustment of the density of charge carriers between 1019 and 1020 cm-3, and it may serve as a general strategy for doping other nanocrystal-based semiconductors. © 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • Exploring the elastic and electronic properties of chromium molybdenum diboride alloys

    Dovale-Farelo V., Tavadze P., Verstraete M.J., Bautista-Hernández A., Romero A.H. Journal of Alloys and Compounds; 866 (158885) 2021. 10.1016/j.jallcom.2021.158885. IF: 4.650

    Theory and Simulation

    We perform first-principles calculations to study the structural, mechanical, thermal, electronic, and magnetic properties of Cr1−xMoxB2 for x = 0.25, 0.33, 0.50, 0.67 and 0.75. Based on structural search methods, we determine the ground-state structure for each concentration. The ternaries are either monoclinic (x = 0.25, 0.75) or trigonal (x = 0.33, 0.50, 0.67). The calculated mechanical properties reveal that the strength of Cr1−xMoxB2 is maximized for x = 0.50. Cr0.5Mo0.5B2 exhibits excellent mechanical properties (B = 298 GPa, Y = 558 GPa, G = 235 Gpa, ν = 0.19, Hv =27 GPa), surpassing those of β-MoB2 at a lower cost. All of these ternaries are hard alloys with Vickers hardness greater than 24 GPa. Chemical bonding analysis demonstrates that the strength of the new compounds is related to the alternating planar and buckled B-B layers, as well as the strong TM-B bonds. The enhanced strength of Cr0.5Mo0.5B2 is a consequence of the high density of strong interlayer Cr-Mo metallic bonds around the Fermi level. © 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Formation and evolution of the nanoparticle environmental corona: The case of Au and humic acid

    Barbero F., Mayall C., Drobne D., Saiz-Poseu J., Bastús N.G., Puntes V. Science of the Total Environment; 768 (144792) 2021. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144792. IF: 6.551

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    Studying the behaviour of nanomaterials after their release into natural water is essential to understand the risk associated to their environmental exposure. In particular, the interaction and adsorption of dissolved organic matter onto nanoparticles strongly influence the behaviour and fate of nanomaterials in natural water systems. We herein study the interaction of Au and Ag nanoparticles and humic acids, the principal component of natural dissolved organic matter. Physicochemical characterization results showed the formation of an organic matter corona, consisting of two layers: a “hard” one, firmly bound to the nanoparticle surface, and a “soft” one, in dynamic equilibrium and, consequently, highly dependent on the media organic matter concentration. The extent of the electro-steric stabilization of the so called environmental corona depends on the size of the supramolecular association of humic acid (which depends on its hydrophilic and lipophilic moieties), the nanoparticle size, the total concentration of organic matter in the media, and the ratio between them. Interestingly, environmental coronas can eventually prevent Ca2+ and Mg2+ induced aggregation at concentrations range present in most of the freshwater bodies. The humic coating formed on top of the Au or control Ag nanoparticles presented a similar profile, but the corrodibility of Ag led to a more natural detachment of the corona. These results were further confirmed by exposing the nanoparticles to a model of natural water and standard mud (LUFA 2.2 dispersion). In the latter case, after several days, nanoparticle sedimentation was observed, which was attributed to interactions with macro organic and inorganic matter (fraction larger than particulate matter). © 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Functional and morphological changes induced in mytilus hemocytes by selected nanoparticles

    Auguste M., Mayall C., Barbero F., Hočevar M., Alberti S., Grassi G., Puntes V.F., Drobne D., Canesi L. Nanomaterials; 11 (2, 470): 1 - 16. 2021. 10.3390/nano11020470. IF: 4.324

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    Nanoparticles (NPs) show various properties depending on their composition, size, and surface coating, which shape their interactions with biological systems. In particular, NPs have been shown to interact with immune cells, that represent a sensitive surveillance system of external and internal stimuli. In this light, in vitro models represent useful tools for investigating nano-bio-interactions in immune cells of different organisms, including invertebrates. In this work, the effects of selected types of NPs with different core composition, size and functionalization (custom-made PVP-AuNP and commercial nanopolystyrenes PS-NH2 and PS-COOH) were investigated in the hemocytes of the marine bivalve Mytilus galloprovincialis. The role of exposure medium was evaluated using either artificial seawater (ASW) or hemolymph serum (HS). Hemocyte morphology was investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and different functional parameters (lysosomal membrane stability, phagocytosis, and lysozyme release) were evaluated. The results show distinct morphological and functional changes induced in mussel hemocytes depending on the NP type and exposure medium. Mussel hemocytes may represent a powerful alternative in vitro model for a rapid pre-screening strategy for NPs, whose utilization will contribute to the understanding of the possible impact of environmental exposure to NPs in marine invertebrates. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Functionalized carbon dots on TiO2 for perovskite photovoltaics and stable photoanodes for water splitting

    Ansón-Casaos A., Hernández-Ferrer J., Vallan L., Xie H., Lira-Cantú M., Benito A.M., Maser W.K. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy; 46 (22): 12180 - 12191. 2021. 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2020.03.077. IF: 4.939

    Nanostructured Materials for Photovoltaic Energy

    Various types of fluorescent carbon nanoparticles, often called carbon dots (CDs), are synthesized by different polycondensation methods: microwave irradiation, hydrothermal conditions or solution chemistry at ambient temperature with subsequent chemical functionalization. The CDs are deposited on TiO2 films to be probed as electron transport layers in perovskite photovoltaics and the anode for photoelectrochemical water splitting. Nitrogen CDs, which do not contain oxygen, lead to an increase of around 50 mV in the open circuit voltage of perovskite solar cells. All the CD types produce an improved photocurrent in water splitting, particularly CDs that are functionalized with thiol groups and butyl chains. It is demonstrated that the modified electrode is stable under continuous operation. Other electrochemical characteristics of the electrode, such as the voltammogram shape, onset potentials and open circuit potentials, remain nearly unchanged upon the deposition of CDs. Only the incident photon to current conversion efficiency improves clearly, extending the absorption range by around 20 nm towards longer wavelengths. This study provides new data about mechanisms and electrode arrangements for improving the performance of n-type semiconductors in photovoltaic cells and photoelectrochemical hydrogen production. © 2020 Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC


  • Gadolinium-Incorporated Carbon Nanodots for T1-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging

    Ji D.-K., Reina G., Liang H., Zhang D., Guo S., Ballesteros B., Ménard-Moyon C., Li J., Bianco A. ACS Applied Nano Materials; 2021. 10.1021/acsanm.0c02993. IF: 0.000

    Electron Microscopy Unit

    The design and development of contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with improved chemical stability and higher contrasting capability for clinical translation compared to conventional contrast agents are still of great interest. In this study, a facile and universal approach was explored for controllable functionalization of red-emissive carbon nanodots (RCNDs) with diethylenetriaminepentaacetic anhydride (DTPA) for chelation of gadolinium. A series of accurate characterizations were used to control each step of the synthesis. The functionalization did not alter the band gap of the carbon nanodots, preserving their inherent far-red fluorescence. The as-prepared RCND-DTPA-Gd displayed a high colloidal stability with negligible Gd leakage. The nanodots also showed a better magnetic resonance relaxivity than commercial MRI agents. RCND-DTPA-Gd had good biocompatibility in vivo even at high doses. The systemically injected RCND-DTPA-Gd were found to be efficiently excreted through the renal route, a feature that further minimizes the potential toxicity risks. All these properties suggest that carbon nanodots can be well designed as efficient carriers of Gd, resulting in potential clinical tools as dual MRI/fluorescence functional probes for imaging applications. The approach described here could pave the pathway to a flexible strategy for the controllable functionalization of small-sized nanoparticles including carbon dots, rendering them more versatile. This work is expected to promote the future translation of carbon nanodots into clinical trials. © 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • Gold nanoparticles coated with polyvinylpyrrolidone and sea urchin extracellular molecules induce transient immune activation

    Alijagic A., Barbero F., Gaglio D., Napodano E., Benada O., Kofroňová O., Puntes V.F., Bastús N.G., Pinsino A. Journal of Hazardous Materials; 402 (123793) 2021. 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.123793. IF: 9.038

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    We report that the immunogenicity of colloidal gold nanoparticles coated with polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP–AuNPs) in a model organism, the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, can function as a proxy for humans for in vitro immunological studies. To profile the immune recognition and interaction from exposure to PVP–AuNPs (1 and 10 μg mL−1), we applied an extensive nano-scale approach, including particle physicochemical characterisation involving immunology, cellular biology, and metabolomics. The interaction between PVP–AuNPs and soluble proteins of the sea urchin physiological coelomic fluid (blood equivalent) results in the formation of a protein “corona” surrounding the NPs from three major proteins that influence the hydrodynamic size and colloidal stability of the particle. At the lower concentration of PVP–AuNPs, the P. lividus phagocytes show a broad metabolic plasticity based on the biosynthesis of metabolites mediating inflammation and phagocytosis. At the higher concentration of PVP–AuNPs, phagocytes activate an immunological response involving Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signalling pathway at 24 hours of exposure. These results emphasise that exposure to PVP–AuNPs drives inflammatory signalling by the phagocytes and the resolution at both the low and high concentrations of the PVP–AuNPs and provides more details regarding the immunogenicity of these NPs. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Graphene active sensor arrays for long-term and wireless mapping of wide frequency band epicortical brain activity

    Garcia-Cortadella R., Schwesig G., Jeschke C., Illa X., Gray A.L., Savage S., Stamatidou E., Schiessl I., Masvidal-Codina E., Kostarelos K., Guimerà-Brunet A., Sirota A., Garrido J.A. Nature Communications; 12 (1, 211) 2021. 10.1038/s41467-020-20546-w. IF: 12.121

    Nanomedicine | Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices

    Graphene active sensors have demonstrated promising capabilities for the detection of electrophysiological signals in the brain. Their functional properties, together with their flexibility as well as their expected stability and biocompatibility have raised them as a promising building block for large-scale sensing neural interfaces. However, in order to provide reliable tools for neuroscience and biomedical engineering applications, the maturity of this technology must be thoroughly studied. Here, we evaluate the performance of 64-channel graphene sensor arrays in terms of homogeneity, sensitivity and stability using a wireless, quasi-commercial headstage and demonstrate the biocompatibility of epicortical graphene chronic implants. Furthermore, to illustrate the potential of the technology to detect cortical signals from infra-slow to high-gamma frequency bands, we perform proof-of-concept long-term wireless recording in a freely behaving rodent. Our work demonstrates the maturity of the graphene-based technology, which represents a promising candidate for chronic, wide frequency band neural sensing interfaces. © 2021, The Author(s).


  • Graphene on two-dimensional hexagonal BN, AlN, and GaN: Electronic, spin-orbit, and spin relaxation properties

    Zollner K., Cummings A.W., Roche S., Fabian J. Physical Review B; 103 (7, 075129) 2021. 10.1103/PhysRevB.103.075129. IF: 3.575

    Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience

    We investigate the electronic band structure of graphene on a series of two-dimensional hexagonal nitride insulators hXN, X=B, Al, and Ga, with first-principles calculations. A symmetry-based model Hamiltonian is employed to extract orbital parameters and spin-orbit coupling (SOC) from the low-energy Dirac bands of the proximitized graphene. While commensurate hBN induces a staggered potential of about 10 meV into the Dirac band structure, less lattice-matched hAlN and hGaN disrupt the Dirac point much less, giving a staggered gap below 100 μeV. Proximitized intrinsic SOC surprisingly does not increase much above the pristine graphene value of 12 μeV; it stays in the window of 1-16 μeV, depending strongly on stacking. However, Rashba SOC increases sharply when increasing the atomic number of the boron group, with calculated maximal values of 8, 15, and 65 μeV for B-, Al-, and Ga-based nitrides, respectively. The individual Rashba couplings also depend strongly on stacking, vanishing in symmetrically sandwiched structures, and can be tuned by a transverse electric field. The extracted spin-orbit parameters were used as input for spin transport simulations based on Chebyshev expansion of the time-evolution of the spin expectation values, yielding interesting predictions for the electron spin relaxation. Spin lifetime magnitudes and anisotropies depend strongly on the specific (hXN)/graphene/hXN system, and they can be efficiently tuned by an applied external electric field as well as the carrier density in the graphene layer. A particularly interesting case for experiments is graphene/hGaN, in which the giant Rashba coupling is predicted to induce spin lifetimes of 1-10 ns, short enough to dominate over other mechanisms, and lead to the same spin relaxation anisotropy as that observed in conventional semiconductor heterostructures: 50%, meaning that out-of-plane spins relax twice as fast as in-plane spins. © 2021 American Physical Society.


  • Graphene oxide prevents lateral amygdala dysfunctional synaptic plasticity and reverts long lasting anxiety behavior in rats

    Franceschi Biagioni A., Cellot G., Pati E., Lozano N., Ballesteros B., Casani R., Coimbra N.C., Kostarelos K., Ballerini L. Biomaterials; 271 (120749) 2021. 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2021.120749. IF: 10.317

    Nanomedicine | Electron Microscopy Unit

    Engineered small graphene oxide (s-GO) sheets were previously shown to reversibly down-regulate glutamatergic synapses in the hippocampus of juvenile rats, disclosing an unexpected translational potential of these nanomaterials to target selective synapses in vivo. Synapses are anatomical specializations acting in the Central Nervous System (CNS) as functional interfaces among neurons. Dynamic changes in synaptic function, named synaptic plasticity, are crucial to learning and memory. More recently, pathological mechanisms involving dysfunctional synaptic plasticity were implicated in several brain diseases, from dementia to anxiety disorders. Hyper-excitability of glutamatergic neurons in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala complex (LA) is substantially involved in the storage of aversive memory induced by stressful events enabling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here we translated in PTSD animal model the ability of s-GO, when stereotaxically administered to hamper LA glutamatergic transmission and to prevent the behavioral response featured in long-term aversive memory. We propose that s-GO, by interference with glutamatergic plasticity, impair LA-dependent memory retrieval related to PTSD. © 2021 The Authors


  • Graphene quantum dots: From efficient preparation to safe renal excretion

    Hadad C., González-Domínguez J.M., Armelloni S., Mattinzoli D., Ikehata M., Istif A., Ostric A., Cellesi F., Alfieri C.M., Messa P., Ballesteros B., Da Ros T. Nano Research; 14 (3): 674 - 683. 2021. 10.1007/s12274-020-3096-y. IF: 8.183

    Electron Microscopy Unit

    Carbon nanomaterials offer excellent prospects as therapeutic agents, and among them, graphene quantum dots (GQDs) have gained considerable interest thanks to their aqueous solubility and intrinsic fluorescence, which enable their possible use in theranostic approaches, if their biocompatibility and favorable pharmacokinetic are confirmed. We prepared ultra-small GQDs using an alternative, reproducible, top-down synthesis starting from graphene oxide with a nearly 100% conversion. The materials were tested to assess their safety, demonstrating good biocompatibility and ability in passing the ultrafiltration barrier using an in vitro model. This leads to renal excretion without affecting the kidneys. Moreover, we studied the GQDs in vivo biodistribution confirming their efficient renal clearance, and we demonstrated that the internalization mechanism into podocytes is caveolae-mediated. Therefore, considering the reported characteristics, it appears possible to vehiculate compounds to kidneys by means of GQDs, overcoming problems related to lysosomal degradation. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]. © 2020, The Author(s).


  • Grating-Graphene Metamaterial as a Platform for Terahertz Nonlinear Photonics

    Deinert J.-C., Alcaraz Iranzo D., Pérez R., Jia X., Hafez H.A., Ilyakov I., Awari N., Chen M., Bawatna M., Ponomaryov A.N., Germanskiy S., Bonn M., Koppens F.H.L., Turchinovich D., Gensch M., Kovalev S., Tielrooij K.-J. ACS Nano; 15 (1): 1145 - 1154. 2021. 10.1021/acsnano.0c08106. IF: 14.588

    Ultrafast Dynamics in Nanoscale Systems

    Nonlinear optics is an increasingly important field for scientific and technological applications, owing to its relevance and potential for optical and optoelectronic technologies. Currently, there is an active search for suitable nonlinear material systems with efficient conversion and a small material footprint. Ideally, the material system should allow for chip integration and room-temperature operation. Two-dimensional materials are highly interesting in this regard. Particularly promising is graphene, which has demonstrated an exceptionally large nonlinearity in the terahertz regime. Yet, the light-matter interaction length in two-dimensional materials is inherently minimal, thus limiting the overall nonlinear optical conversion efficiency. Here, we overcome this challenge using a metamaterial platform that combines graphene with a photonic grating structure providing field enhancement. We measure terahertz third-harmonic generation in this metamaterial and obtain an effective third-order nonlinear susceptibility with a magnitude as large as 3 × 10-8 m2/V2, or 21 esu, for a fundamental frequency of 0.7 THz. This nonlinearity is 50 times larger than what we obtain for graphene without grating. Such an enhancement corresponds to a third-harmonic signal with an intensity that is 3 orders of magnitude larger due to the grating. Moreover, we demonstrate a field conversion efficiency for the third harmonic of up to ∼1% using a moderate field strength of ∼30 kV/cm. Finally, we show that harmonics beyond the third are enhanced even more strongly, allowing us to observe signatures of up to the ninth harmonic. Grating-graphene metamaterials thus constitute an outstanding platform for commercially viable, CMOS-compatible, room-temperature, chip-integrated, THz nonlinear conversion applications. © 2021 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.


  • Heat transport control and thermal characterization of low-dimensional materials: A review

    El Sachat A., Alzina F., Sotomayor Torres C.M., Chavez-Angel E. Nanomaterials; 11 (1, 175): 1 - 32. 2021. 10.3390/nano11010175. IF: 4.324

    Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures

    Heat dissipation and thermal management are central challenges in various areas of science and technology and are critical issues for the majority of nanoelectronic devices. In this review, we focus on experimental advances in thermal characterization and phonon engineering that have drastically increased the understanding of heat transport and demonstrated efficient ways to control heat propagation in nanomaterials. We summarize the latest device-relevant methodologies of phonon engineering in semiconductor nanostructures and 2D materials, including graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides. Then, we review recent advances in thermal characterization techniques, and discuss their main challenges and limitations. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Heterogeneous catalysts with programmable topologies generated by reticulation of organocatalysts into metal-organic frameworks: The case of squaramide

    Broto-Ribas A., Vignatti C., Jimenez-Almarza A., Luis-Barrera J., Dolatkhah Z., Gándara F., Imaz I., Mas-Ballesté R., Alemán J., Maspoch D. Nano Research; 14 (2): 458 - 465. 2021. 10.1007/s12274-020-2779-8. IF: 8.183

    Supramolecular NanoChemistry and Materials

    A well-established strategy to synthesize heterogeneous, metal-organic framework (MOF) catalysts that exhibit nanoconfinement effects, and specific pores with highly-localized catalytic sites, is to use organic linkers containing organocatalytic centers. Here, we report that by combining this linker approach with reticular chemistry, and exploiting three-dimensioanl (3D) MOF-structural data from the Cambridge Structural Database, we have designed four heterogeneous MOF-based catalysts for standard organic transformations. These programmable MOFs are isoreticular versions of pcu IRMOF-16, fcu UiO-68 and pillared-pcu SNU-8X, the three most common topologies of MOFs built from the organic linker p,p’-terphenyldicarboxylic acid (tpdc). To synthesize the four squaramide-based MOFs, we designed and synthesized a linker, 4,4’-((3,4‐dioxocyclobut‐1‐ene‐1,2‐diyl)bis(azanedyil))dibenzoic acid (Sq_tpdc), which is identical in directionality and length to tpdc but which contains organocatalytic squaramide centers. Squaramides were chosen because their immobilization into a framework enhances its reactivity and stability while avoiding any self-quenching phenomena. Therefore, the four MOFs share the same organocatalytic squaramide moiety, but confine it within distinct pore environments. We then evaluated these MOFs as heterogeneous H-bonding catalysts in organic transformations: a Friedel-Crafts alkylation and an epoxide ring-opening. Some of them exhibited good performance in both reactions but all showed distinct catalytic profiles that reflect their structural differences. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]. © 2020, Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Hybrid Metal-Phenol Nanoparticles with Polydopamine-like Coating for PET/SPECT/CT Imaging

    Suárez-Garciá S., Esposito T.V.F., Neufeld-Peters J., Bergamo M., Yang H., Saatchi K., Schaffer P., Häfeli U.O., Ruiz-Molina D., Rodríguez-Rodríguez C., Novio F. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces; 2021. 10.1021/acsami.0c20612. IF: 8.758

    Nanostructured Functional Materials

    The validation of metal-phenolic nanoparticles (MPNs) in preclinical imaging studies represents a growing field of interest due to their versatility in forming predesigned structures with unique properties. Before MPNs can be used in medicine, their pharmacokinetics must be optimized so that accumulation in nontargeted organs is prevented and toxicity is minimized. Here, we report the fabrication of MPNs made of a coordination polymer core that combines In(III), Cu(II), and a mixture of the imidazole 1,4-bis(imidazole-1-ylmethyl)-benzene and the catechol 3,4-dihydroxycinnamic acid ligands. Furthermore, a phenolic-based coating was used as an anchoring platform to attach poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG). The resulting MPNs, with effective hydrodynamic diameters of around 120 nm, could be further derivatized with surface-embedded molecules, such as folic acid, to facilitate in vivo targeting and multifunctionality. The prepared MPNs were evaluated for in vitro plasma stability, cytotoxicity, and cell internalization and found to be biocompatible under physiological conditions. First, biomedical evaluations were then performed by intrinsically incorporating trace amounts of the radioactive metals 111In or 64Cu during the MPN synthesis directly into their polymeric matrix. The resulting particles, which had identical physicochemical properties to their nonradioactive counterparts, were used to perform in vivo single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) in tumor-bearing mice. The ability to incorporate multiple metals and radiometals into MPNs illustrates the diverse range of functional nanoparticles that can be prepared with this approach and broadens the scope of these nanoconstructs as multimodal preclinical imaging agents. © 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • Improved Aliivibrio fischeri based-toxicity assay: Graphene-oxide as a sensitivity booster with a mobile-phone application

    Bergua J.F., Álvarez-Diduk R., Hu L., Hassan A.H.A., Merkoçi A. Journal of Hazardous Materials; 406 (124434) 2021. 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2020.124434. IF: 9.038

    Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors

    Recently, many bioluminescence-based applications have arisen in several fields, such as biosensing, bioimaging, molecular biology, and human health diagnosis. Among all bioluminescent organisms, Aliivibrio fischeri (A. fischeri) is a bioluminescent bacterium used to carry out water toxicity assays since the late 1970s. Since then, several commercial A. fischeri-based products have been launched to the market, as these bacteria are considered as a gold standard for water toxicity assessment worldwide. However, the aforementioned commercial products rely on expensive equipment, requiring several reagents and working steps, as well as high-trained personnel to perform the assays and analyze the output data. For these reasons, in this work, we have developed for the first time a mobile-phone-based sensing platform for water toxicity assessment in just 5 min using two widespread pesticides as model analytes. To accomplish this, we have established new methodologies to enhance the bioluminescent signal of A. fischeri based on the bacterial culture in a solid media and/or using graphene oxide. Finally, we have addressed the biocompatibility of graphene oxide to A. fischeri, boosting the sensitivity of the toxicity assays and the bacterial growth of the lyophilized bacterial cultures for more user-friendly storage. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • In situ XPS analysis of the electronic structure of silicon and titanium thin films exposed to low-pressure inductively-coupled RF plasma

    Fraxedas J., Schütte M., Sauthier G., Tallarida M., Ferrer S., Carlino V., Pellegrin E. Applied Surface Science; 542 (148684) 2021. 10.1016/j.apsusc.2020.148684. IF: 6.182

    Force Probe Microscopy and Surface Nanoengineering

    Carbon contamination of synchrotron and free-electron lasers beamline optics continues to be a major nuisance due to the interaction of the intense photon beams with the surfaces of the optical elements in the presence of residual gases even in ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) conditions. Among the available in situ cleaning strategies, low-pressure radio frequency (RF) plasma treatment has emerged as a useful and relatively simple approach to remove such carbon contamination. However, the irreversible damage that the plasma may induce in such critical surfaces has to be carefully characterized before its general application. In this study, we focus on reducing the amount of carbon from UHV chamber inside surfaces via silicon and titanium coatings using a low-pressure inductively-coupled downstream plasma source and we characterize the surface alterations by in situ X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS). The in situ mirror cleaning is simulated by means of silicon wafers. We observe upward band bending, which translates into lower binding energies of the photoemission lines, that we attribute to the generation of vacancies and trapped charges in the oxide layers. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Influence of copper telluride nanodomains on the transport properties of n-type bismuth telluride

    Zhang Y., Xing C., Liu Y., Li M., Xiao K., Guardia P., Lee S., Han X., Ostovari Moghaddam A., Josep Roa J., Arbiol J., Ibáñez M., Pan K., Prato M., Xie Y., Cabot A. Chemical Engineering Journal; 418 (129374) 2021. 10.1016/j.cej.2021.129374. IF: 10.652

    Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    The high processing cost, poor mechanical properties and moderate performance of Bi2Te3–based alloys used in thermoelectric devices limit the cost-effectiveness of this energy conversion technology. Towards solving these current challenges, in the present work, we detail a low temperature solution-based approach to produce Bi2Te3-Cu2-xTe nanocomposites with improved thermoelectric performance. Our approach consists in combining proper ratios of colloidal nanoparticles and to consolidate the resulting mixture into nanocomposites using a hot press. The transport properties of the nanocomposites are characterized and compared with those of pure Bi2Te3 nanomaterials obtained following the same procedure. In contrast with most previous works, the presence of Cu2-xTe nanodomains does not result in a significant reduction of the lattice thermal conductivity of the reference Bi2Te3 nanomaterial, which is already very low. However, the introduction of Cu2-xTe yields a nearly threefold increase of the power factor associated to a simultaneous increase of the Seebeck coefficient and electrical conductivity at temperatures above 400 K. Taking into account the band alignment of the two materials, we rationalize this increase by considering that Cu2-xTe nanostructures, with a relatively low electron affinity, are able to inject electrons into Bi2Te3, enhancing in this way its electrical conductivity. The simultaneous increase of the Seebeck coefficient is related to the energy filtering of charge carriers at energy barriers within Bi2Te3 domains associated with the accumulation of electrons in regions nearby a Cu2-xTe/Bi2Te3 heterojunction. Overall, with the incorporation of a proper amount of Cu2-xTe nanoparticles, we demonstrate a 250% improvement of the thermoelectric figure of merit of Bi2Te3. © 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Injection locking in an optomechanical coherent phonon source

    Arregui G., Colombano M.F., Maire J., Pitanti A., Capuj N.E., Griol A., Martínez A., Sotomayor-Torres C.M., Navarro-Urrios D. Nanophotonics; 10 (2): 1319 - 1327. 2021. 10.1515/nanoph-2020-0592. IF: 7.491

    Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures

    Spontaneous locking of the phase of a coherent phonon source to an external reference is demonstrated in a deeply sideband-unresolved optomechanical system. The high-amplitude mechanical oscillations are driven by the anharmonic modulation of the radiation pressure force that result from an absorption-mediated free-carrier/temperature limit cycle, i.e., self-pulsing. Synchronization is observed when the pump laser driving the mechanical oscillator to a self-sustained state is modulated by a radiofrequency tone. We employ a pump-probe phonon detection scheme based on an independent optical cavity to observe only the mechanical oscillator dynamics. The lock range of the oscillation frequency, i.e., the Arnold tongue, is experimentally determined over a range of external reference strengths, evidencing the possibility to tune the oscillator frequency for a range up to 350 kHz. The stability of the coherent phonon source is evaluated via its phase noise, with a maximum achieved suppression of 44 dBc/Hz at 1 kHz offset for a 100 MHz mechanical resonator. Introducing a weak modulation in the excitation laser reveals as a further knob to trigger, control and stabilize the dynamical solutions of self-pulsing based optomechanical oscillators, thus enhancing their potential as acoustic wave sources in a single-layer silicon platform. © 2021 Guillermo Arregui et al., published by De Gruyter.


  • Integrated Devices for Non-Invasive Diagnostics

    Ates H.C., Brunauer A., von Stetten F., Urban G.A., Güder F., Merkoçi A., Früh S.M., Dincer C. Advanced Functional Materials; 2021. 10.1002/adfm.202010388. IF: 16.836

    Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors

    “Sample-in-answer-out” type integrated diagnostic devices have been widely recognized as the ultimate solution to simplify testing across healthcare systems. Such systems are equipped with advanced fluidic, mechanical, chemical, biological, and electronic components to handle patient samples without any manual steps therefore have the potential to accelerate intervention and improve patient outcomes. In this regard, the combination of integrated devices and non-invasive sampling has gained a substantial interest to further improve the comfort and safety of patients. In this Review, the pioneering developments in integrated diagnostics are covered and their potential in non-invasive sampling is discussed. The key properties of possible sample types are highlighted by addressing their relevance for the clinical practice. Last, the factors affecting the transition of integrated devices from academia to the market are identified by analyzing the technology readiness levels of selected examples and alternative remedies are explored to increase the rate of survival during this transition. © 2020 The Authors. Advanced Functional Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Integrating gold nanoclusters, folic acid and reduced graphene oxide for nanosensing of glutathione based on “turn-off” fluorescence

    Wong X.Y., Quesada-González D., Manickam S., New S.Y., Muthoosamy K., Merkoçi A. Scientific Reports; 11 (1, 2375) 2021. 10.1038/s41598-021-81677-8. IF: 3.998

    Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors

    Glutathione (GSH) is a useful biomarker in the development, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. However, most of the reported GSH biosensors are expensive, time-consuming and often require complex sample treatment, which limit its biological applications. Herein, a nanobiosensor for the detection of GSH using folic acid-functionalized reduced graphene oxide-modified BSA gold nanoclusters (FA-rGO-BSA/AuNCs) based on the fluorescence quenching interactions is presented. Firstly, a facile and optimized protocol for the fabrication of BSA/AuNCs is developed. Functionalization of rGO with folic acid is performed using EDC/NHS cross-linking reagents, and their interaction after loading with BSA/AuNCs is demonstrated. The formation of FA-rGO, BSA/AuNCs and FA-rGO-BSA/AuNCs are confirmed by the state-of-art characterization techniques. Finally, a fluorescence turn-off sensing strategy is developed using the as-synthesized FA-rGO-BSA/AuNCs for the detection of GSH. The nanobiosensor revealed an excellent sensing performance for the detection of GSH with high sensitivity and desirable selectivity over other potential interfering species. The fluorescence quenching is linearly proportional to the concentration of GSH between 0 and 1.75 µM, with a limit of detection of 0.1 µM under the physiological pH conditions (pH 7.4). Such a sensitive nanobiosensor paves the way to fabricate a “turn-on” or “turn-off” fluorescent sensor for important biomarkers in cancer cells, presenting potential nanotheranostic applications in biological detection and clinical diagnosis. © 2021, The Author(s).


  • Interaction between macrophages and nanoparticles: In vitro 3d cultures for the realistic assessment of inflammatory activation and modulation of innate memory

    Swartzwelter B.J., Verde A., Rehak L., Madej M., Puntes V.F., De Luca A.C., Boraschi D., Italiani P. Nanomaterials; 11 (1, 207): 1 - 13. 2021. 10.3390/nano11010207. IF: 4.324

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    Understanding the modes of interaction between human monocytes/macrophages and engineered nanoparticles is the basis for assessing particle safety, in terms of activation of innate/inflammatory reactions, and their possible exploitation for medical applications. In vitro assessment of nanoparticle-macrophage interaction allows for examining the response of primary human cells, but the conventional 2D cultures do not reproduce the three-dimensional spacing of a tissue and the interaction of macrophages with the extracellular tissue matrix, conditions that shape macrophage recognition capacity and reactivity. Here, we have compared traditional 2D cultures with cultures on a 3D collagen matrix for evaluating the capacity gold nanoparticles to induce monocyte activation and subsequent innate memory in human blood monocytes in comparison to bacterial LPS. Results show that monocytes react to stimuli almost in the same way in 2D and 3D cultures in terms of production of TNFα and IL-6, but that notable differences are found when IL-8 and IL-1Ra are examined, in particular in the recall/memory response of primed cells to a second stimulation, with the 3D cultures showing cell activation and memory effects of nanoparticles better. In addition, the response variations in monocytes/macrophages from different donors point towards a personalized assessment of the nanoparticle effects on macrophage activation. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Interaction of nanoparticles with endotoxin importance in nanosafety testing and exploitation for endotoxin binding

    Mangini M., Verde A., Boraschi D., Puntes V.F., Italiani P., De Luca A.C. Nanotoxicology; 2021. 10.1080/17435390.2021.1898690. IF: 4.925

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    The interaction between engineered nanoparticles and the bacterial lipopolysaccharide, or endotoxin, is an event that warrants attention. Endotoxin is one of the most potent stimulators of inflammation and immune reactions in human beings, and is a very common contaminant in research labs. In nanotoxicology and nanomedicine, the presence of endotoxin on the nanoparticle surface affects their biological properties leading to misinterpretation of results. This review discusses the importance of detecting the endotoxin contamination on nanoparticles, focusing on the current method of endotoxin detection and their suitability for nanoparticulate materials. Conversely, the capacity of nanoparticles to bind endotoxin can be enhanced by functionalization with endotoxin-capturing molecules, opening the way to the development of novel endotoxin detection assays. © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Introducing visible-light sensitivity into photocatalytic CeO2nanoparticles by hybrid particle preparation exploiting plasmonic properties of gold: Enhanced photoelectrocatalysis exemplified for hydrogen peroxide sensing

    Zhao S., Riedel M., Patarroyo J., Bastus N., Puntes V., Yue Z., Lisdat F., Parak W.J. Nanoscale; 13 (2): 980 - 990. 2021. 10.1039/d0nr06356h. IF: 6.895

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    In this report we combine the catalytic properties of CeO2 nanoparticles with their transduction ability for photoelectrochemical sensing. This study highlights the usage of CeO2 providing catalytic activity towards H2O2, but only with a limited excitation range in the UV for the construction of a sensing system. In order to improve the photoelectrocatalysis of CeO2 nanoparticles by extending their excitation to visible light, Au/CeO2 core/shell hybrid nanoparticles have been synthesized. The hybrid nanoparticles are fixed on electrodes, allowing for the generation of photocurrents, the direction of which can be controlled by the electrode potential (without bias). The application of the hybrid nanoparticles results in an enhanced photocurrent amplitude under white light illumination as compared to the pure CeO2 nanoparticles. Wavelength-dependent measurements confirm the participation of the Au core in the signal transduction. This can be explained by improved charge carrier generation within the hybrid particles. Thus, by using a plasmonic element the photoelectochemical response of a catalytic nanoparticle (i.e. CeO2) has been spectrally extended. The effect can be exploited for sensorial hydrogen peroxide detection. Here higher photocatalytic current responses have been found for the hybrid particles fixed to gold electrodes although the catalytic reduction has been comparable for both types of nanoparticles. Thus, it can be demonstrated that Au/CeO2 core-shell nanoparticles allow the utilization of visible light for photoelectrochemical hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) detection with improved sensitivity under white light illumination or application of such particles with only visible light excitation, which is not possible for pure CeO2. With help of the layer-by-layer (LbL) technique for nanoparticle immobilization, the electrode response can be adjusted and with a 5 layers electrode a low detection limit of about 3 μM H2O2 with a linear detection range up to 2000 μM is obtained. This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry.


  • Layered Nanocomposite 2D-TiO2 with Cu2O Nanoparticles as an Efficient Photocatalyst for 4-Chlorophenol Degradation and Hydrogen Evolution

    Alegría M., Aliaga J., Ballesteros L., Sotomayor-Torres C., González G., Benavente E. Topics in Catalysis; 64 (1-2): 167 - 180. 2021. 10.1007/s11244-020-01360-6. IF: 2.406

    Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures

    New composites formed by layered hybrid TiO2(stearic acid) (LHTiO2) and, Cu2O nanoparticles were studied as photocatalysts that extend the response range to light visible for the evolution of hydrogen and the degradation of 4-chlorophenol. The results revealed that LHTiO2/Cu2O exhibited a clearly improved photocatalytic degradation, about 5.6 times faster than pristine TiO2, and hydrogen evolution of about 2.7 times higher than the TiO2 anatase. The enhanced photocatalytic activity can be assigned to the properties of the two-dimensional morphology, in sheets-like arrangement of LHTiO2, benefitting from the high exposure of surface, with more active sites available to improve matching with the surfaces of the Cu2O nanocrystals and significant reduction of migration distances of photogenerated carriers. In the photocatalytic degradation, a mechanism Z-scheme is supported, and in the photocatalytic evolution of hydrogen a mechanism type II band alignment is indicated. Photocatalytic reuse tests showed that stability and catalytic activity of LHTiO2/Cu2O were maintained for three cycles. Photoelectrochemical evaluation were performed through measurements of the photocurrent response and electrochemical impedance. © 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Linear scaling quantum transport methodologies

    Fan Z., Garcia J.H., Cummings A.W., Barrios-Vargas J.E., Panhans M., Harju A., Ortmann F., Roche S. Physics Reports; 903: 1 - 69. 2021. 10.1016/j.physrep.2020.12.001. IF: 25.809

    Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience

    In recent years, predictive computational modeling has become a cornerstone for the study of fundamental electronic, optical, and thermal properties in complex forms of condensed matter, including Dirac and topological materials. The simulation of quantum transport in realistic models calls for the development of linear scaling, or order-N, numerical methods, which then become enabling tools for guiding experimental research and for supporting the interpretation of measurements. In this review, we describe and compare different order-N computational methods that have been developed during the past twenty years, and which have been used extensively to explore quantum transport phenomena in disordered media. We place particular focus on the zero-frequency electrical conductivities derived within the Kubo–Greenwood​ and Kubo–Streda formalisms, and illustrate the capabilities of these methods to tackle the quasi-ballistic, diffusive, and localization regimes of quantum transport in the noninteracting limit. The fundamental issue of computational cost versus accuracy of various proposed numerical schemes is addressed in depth. We then illustrate the usefulness of these methods with various examples of transport in disordered materials, such as polycrystalline and defected graphene models, 3D metals and Dirac semimetals, carbon nanotubes, and organic semiconductors. Finally, we extend the review to the study of spin dynamics and topological transport, for which efficient approaches for calculating charge, spin, and valley Hall conductivities are described. © 2020 The Author(s)


  • Localized electronic vacancy level and its effect on the properties of doped manganites

    Juan D., Pruneda M., Ferrari V. Scientific Reports; 11 (1, 6706) 2021. 10.1038/s41598-021-85945-5. IF: 3.998

    Theory and Simulation

    Oxygen vacancies are common to most metal oxides and usually play a crucial role in determining the properties of the host material. In this work, we perform ab initio calculations to study the influence of vacancies in doped manganites La (1 - x)Sr xMnO 3, varying both the vacancy concentration and the chemical composition within the ferromagnetic-metallic range (0.2<x<0.5). We find that oxygen vacancies give rise to a localized electronic level and analyse the effects that the possible occupation of this defect state can have on the physical properties of the host. In particular, we observe a substantial reduction of the exchange energy that favors spin-flipped configurations (local antiferromagnetism), which correlate with the weakening of the double-exchange interaction, the deterioration of the metallicity, and the degradation of ferromagnetism in reduced samples. In agreement with previous studies, vacancies give rise to a lattice expansion when the defect level is unoccupied. However, our calculations suggest that under low Sr concentrations the defect level can be populated, which conversely results in a local reduction of the lattice parameter. Although the exact energy position of this defect level is sensitive to the details of the electronic interactions, we argue that it is not far from the Fermi energy for optimally doped manganites (x∼1/3), and thus its occupation could be tuned by controlling the number of available electrons, either with chemical doping or gating. Our results could have important implications for engineering the electronic properties of thin films in oxide compounds. © 2021, The Author(s).


  • Long-lived charge separation following pump-wavelength–dependent ultrafast charge transfer in graphene/WS2 heterostructures

    Fu S., du Fossé I., Jia X., Xu J., Yu X., Zhang H., Zheng W., Krasel S., Chen Z., Wang Z.M., Tielrooij K.-J., Bonn M., Houtepen A.J., Wang H.I. Science Advances; 7 (9, eabd9061) 2021. 10.1126/sciadv.abd9061. IF: 13.117

    Ultrafast Dynamics in Nanoscale Systems

    Van der Waals heterostructures consisting of graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides have shown great promise for optoelectronic applications. However, an in-depth understanding of the critical processes for device operation, namely, interfacial charge transfer (CT) and recombination, has so far remained elusive. Here, we investigate these processes in graphene-WS2 heterostructures by complementarily probing the ultrafast terahertz photoconductivity in graphene and the transient absorption dynamics in WS2 following photoexcitation. We observe that separated charges in the heterostructure following CT live extremely long: beyond 1 ns, in contrast to ~1 ps charge separation reported in previous studies. This leads to efficient photogating of graphene. Furthermore, for the CT process across graphene-WS2 interfaces, we find that it occurs via photo-thermionic emission for sub-A-exciton excitations and direct hole transfer from WS2 to the valence band of graphene for above-A-exciton excitations. These findings provide insights to further optimize the performance of optoelectronic devices, in particular photodetection. Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved;


  • Metallic Diluted Dimerization in VO2 Tweeds

    Sandiumenge F., Rodríguez L., Pruneda M., Magén C., Santiso J., Catalan G. Advanced Materials; 33 (9, 2004374) 2021. 10.1002/adma.202004374. IF: 27.398

    Theory and Simulation | Oxide Nanophysics | Nanomaterials Growth Unit

    The observation of electronic phase separation textures in vanadium dioxide, a prototypical electron-correlated oxide, has recently added new perspectives on the long standing debate about its metal–insulator transition and its applications. Yet, the lack of atomically resolved information on phases accompanying such complex patterns still hinders a comprehensive understanding of the transition and its implementation in practical devices. In this work, atomic resolution imaging and spectroscopy unveils the existence of ferroelastic tweed structures on ≈5 nm length scales, well below the resolution limit of currently used spectroscopic imaging techniques. Moreover, density functional theory calculations show that this pretransitional fine-scale tweed, which on average looks and behaves like the standard metallic rutile phase, is in fact weaved by semi-dimerized chains of vanadium in a new monoclinic phase that represents a structural bridge to the monoclinic insulating ground state. These observations provide a multiscale perspective for the interpretation of existing data, whereby phase coexistence and structural intermixing can occur all the way down to the atomic scale. © 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Microfluidic In Vitro Platform for (Nano)Safety and (Nano)Drug Efficiency Screening

    Kohl Y., Biehl M., Spring S., Hesler M., Ogourtsov V., Todorovic M., Owen J., Elje E., Kopecka K., Moriones O.H., Bastús N.G., Simon P., Dubaj T., Rundén-Pran E., Puntes V., William N., von Briesen H., Wagner S., Kapur N., Mariussen E., Nelson A., Gabelova A., Dusinska M., Velten T., Knoll T. Small; 2021. 10.1002/smll.202006012. IF: 11.459

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    Microfluidic technology is a valuable tool for realizing more in vitro models capturing cellular and organ level responses for rapid and animal-free risk assessment of new chemicals and drugs. Microfluidic cell-based devices allow high-throughput screening and flexible automation while lowering costs and reagent consumption due to their miniaturization. There is a growing need for faster and animal-free approaches for drug development and safety assessment of chemicals (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical Substances, REACH). The work presented describes a microfluidic platform for in vivo-like in vitro cell cultivation. It is equipped with a wafer-based silicon chip including integrated electrodes and a microcavity. A proof-of-concept using different relevant cell models shows its suitability for label-free assessment of cytotoxic effects. A miniaturized microscope within each module monitors cell morphology and proliferation. Electrodes integrated in the microfluidic channels allow the noninvasive monitoring of barrier integrity followed by a label-free assessment of cytotoxic effects. Each microfluidic cell cultivation module can be operated individually or be interconnected in a flexible way. The interconnection of the different modules aims at simulation of the whole-body exposure and response and can contribute to the replacement of animal testing in risk assessment studies in compliance with the 3Rs to replace, reduce, and refine animal experiments. © 2021 The Authors. Small published by Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Multiscale modeling strategy to solve fullerene formation mystery

    Popov A.M., Lebedeva I.V., Vyrko S.A., Poklonski N.A. Fullerenes Nanotubes and Carbon Nanostructures; 2021. 10.1080/1536383X.2021.1900124. IF: 1.648

    Theory and Simulation

    Since fullerene formation occurs under conditions where direct observation of atomic-scale reactions is not possible, modeling is the only way to reveal atomistic mechanisms which can lead to selection of abundant fullerene isomers (like C60-Ih). In the present paper we review the results obtained for different atomistic mechanisms by various modeling techniques. Although it seems that atomic-scale processes related to odd fullerenes (such as growth by consecutive insertions of single carbon atoms and rearrangements of the sp2 structure promoted by extra sp atoms) provide the main contribution to selection of abundant isomers, at the moment there is no conclusive evidence in favor of any particular atomistic mechanism. Thus, the following multiscale modeling strategy to solve the mystery of the high yield of abundant fullerene isomers is suggested. On the one hand, sets of reactions between fullerene isomers can be described using theoretical graph techniques. On the other hand, reaction schemes can be revealed by classical molecular dynamics simulations with subsequent refinement of the activation barriers by ab initio calculations. Based on the reaction sets with the reaction probabilities derived in this way, the different atomistic mechanisms of abundant fullerene isomer selection can be compared using kinetic models. © 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Nanophotonic biosensors for point-of-care COVID-19 diagnostics and coronavirus surveillance

    Ruiz-Vega G., Soler M., Lechuga L.M. JPhys Photonics; 3 (1, 011002) 2021. 10.1088/2515-7647/abd4ee. IF: 0.000

    NanoBiosensors and Bioanalytical Applications

    The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the need of novel diagnostic technologies for rapid and accurate virus detection. In the European CONVAT project, a point-of-care nanophotonic biosensor is being developed for the direct, fast and specific identification of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 from both human patient samples and animal reservoirs. The technology will provide a quantitative detection of the viral load and it can be implemented in decentralized settings to improve the early diagnosis and clinical management of patients as well as coronavirus environmental monitoring to prevent future outbreaks. © 2021 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd


  • Nanotools for Sepsis Diagnosis and Treatment

    Papafilippou L., Claxton A., Dark P., Kostarelos K., Hadjidemetriou M. Advanced Healthcare Materials; 10 (1, 2001378) 2021. 10.1002/adhm.202001378. IF: 7.367

    Nanomedicine

    Sepsis is one of the leading causes of death worldwide with high mortality rates and a pathological complexity hindering early and accurate diagnosis. Today, laboratory culture tests are the epitome of pathogen recognition in sepsis. However, their consistency remains an issue of controversy with false negative results often observed. Clinically used blood markers, C reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT) are indicators of an acute-phase response and thus lack specificity, offering limited diagnostic efficacy. In addition to poor diagnosis, inefficient drug delivery and the increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms constitute significant barriers in antibiotic stewardship and impede effective therapy. These challenges have prompted the exploration for alternative strategies that pursue accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Nanomaterials are examined for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes in sepsis. The nanoparticle (NP)-enabled capture of sepsis causative agents and/or sepsis biomarkers in biofluids can revolutionize sepsis diagnosis. From the therapeutic point of view, currently existing nanoscale drug delivery systems have proven to be excellent allies in targeted therapy, while many other nanotherapeutic applications are envisioned. Herein, the most relevant applications of nanomedicine for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of sepsis is reviewed, providing a critical assessment of their potentiality for clinical translation. © 2020 The Authors. Advanced Healthcare Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Nickel Iron Diselenide for Highly Efficient and Selective Electrocatalytic Conversion of Methanol to Formate

    Li J., Xing C., Zhang Y., Zhang T., Spadaro M.C., Wu Q., Yi Y., He S., Llorca J., Arbiol J., Cabot A., Cui C. Small; 17 (6, 2006623) 2021. 10.1002/smll.202006623. IF: 11.459

    Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    The electro-oxidation of methanol to formate is an interesting example of the potential use of renewable energies to add value to a biosourced chemical commodity. Additionally, methanol electro-oxidation can replace the sluggish oxygen evolution reaction when coupled to hydrogen evolution or to the electroreduction of other biomass-derived intermediates. But the cost-effective realization of these reaction schemes requires the development of efficient and low-cost electrocatalysts. Here, a noble metal-free catalyst, Ni1−xFexSe2 nanorods, with a high potential for an efficient and selective methanol conversion to formate is demonstrated. At its optimum composition, Ni0.75Fe0.25Se2, this diselenide is able to produce 0.47 mmol cm−2 h−1 of formate at 50 mA cm−2 with a Faradaic conversion efficiency of 99%. Additionally, this noble-metal-free catalyst is able to continuously work for over 50 000 s with a minimal loss of efficiency, delivering initial current densities above 50 mA cm−2 and 2.2 A mg−1 in a 1.0 m KOH electrolyte with 1.0 m methanol at 1.5 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode. This work demonstrates the highly efficient and selective methanol-to-formate conversion on Ni-based noble-metal-free catalysts, and more importantly it shows a very promising example to exploit the electrocatalytic conversion of biomass-derived chemicals. © 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Non-linear nanoscale piezoresponse of single ZnO nanowires affected by piezotronic effect

    Lozano H., Catalán G., Esteve J., Domingo N., Murillo G. Nanotechnology; 32 (2, 025202) 2021. 10.1088/1361-6528/abb972. IF: 3.551

    Oxide Nanophysics

    Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires (NWs) as semiconductor piezoelectric nanostructures have emerged as material of interest for applications in energy harvesting, photonics, sensing, biomedical science, actuators or spintronics. The expression for the piezoelectric properties in semiconductor materials is concealed by the screening effect of the available carriers and the piezotronic effect, leading to complex nanoscale piezoresponse signals. Here, we have developed a metal-semiconductor-metal model to simulate the piezoresponse of single ZnO NWs, demonstrating that the apparent non-linearity in the piezoelectric coefficient arises from the asymmetry created by the forward and reversed biased Schottky barriers at the semiconductor-metal junctions. By directly measuring the experimental I-V characteristics of ZnO NWs with conductive atomic force microscope together with the piezoelectric vertical coefficient by piezoresponse force microscopy, and comparing them with the numerical calculations for our model, effective piezoelectric coefficients in the range d 33eff ∼ 8.6 pm V-1-12.3 pm V-1 have been extracted for ZnO NWs. We have further demonstrated via simulations the dependence between the effective piezoelectric coefficient d 33eff and the geometry and physical dimensions of the NW (radius to length ratio), revealing that the higher d 33eff is obtained for thin and long NWs due to the tensor nature proportionality between electric fields and deformation in NW geometries. Moreover, the non-linearity of the piezoresponse also leads to multiharmonic electromechanical response observed at the second and higher harmonics that indeed is not restricted to piezoelectric semiconductor materials but can be generalized to any type of asymmetric voltage drops on a piezoelectric structure as well as leaky wide band-gap semiconductor ferroelectrics. © 2020 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • Novel Graphene Electrode for Retinal Implants: An in vivo Biocompatibility Study

    Nguyen D., Valet M., Dégardin J., Boucherit L., Illa X., de la Cruz J., del Corro E., Bousquet J., Garrido J.A., Hébert C., Picaud S. Frontiers in Neuroscience; 15 (615256) 2021. 10.3389/fnins.2021.615256. IF: 3.707

    Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices

    Evaluating biocompatibility is a core essential step to introducing a new material as a candidate for brain-machine interfaces. Foreign body reactions often result in glial scars that can impede the performance of the interface. Having a high conductivity and large electrochemical window, graphene is a candidate material for electrical stimulation with retinal prosthesis. In this study, non-functional devices consisting of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) graphene embedded onto polyimide/SU-8 substrates were fabricated for a biocompatibility study. The devices were implanted beneath the retina of blind P23H rats. Implants were monitored by optical coherence tomography (OCT) and eye fundus which indicated a high stability in vivo up to 3 months before histology studies were done. Microglial reconstruction through confocal imaging illustrates that the presence of graphene on polyimide reduced the number of microglial cells in the retina compared to polyimide alone, thereby indicating a high biocompatibility. This study highlights an interesting approach to assess material biocompatibility in a tissue model of central nervous system, the retina, which is easily accessed optically and surgically. © Copyright © 2021 Nguyen, Valet, Dégardin, Boucherit, Illa, de la Cruz, del Corro, Bousquet, Garrido, Hébert and Picaud.


  • Optimisation of NiO electrodeposition on 3D graphene electrode for electrochemical energy storage using response surface methodology

    Agudosi E.S., Abdullah E.C., Numan A., Khalid M., Mubarak N.M., Benages-Vilau R., Gómez-Romero P., Aid S.R., Omar N. Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry; 882 (114992) 2021. 10.1016/j.jelechem.2021.114992. IF: 3.807

    Novel Energy-Oriented Materials

    In this study, NiO was electrodeposited on a 3D graphene electrode to produce a nanocomposite with enhanced electrochemical properties. The electrodeposition process parameters such as electrolyte concentration, deposition time, and deposition potential were statistically optimised using response surface methodology. The statistical analysis showed that the optimal electrodeposition conditions to be 0.3 M, 10 min, and -1.2 V for electrolyte concentration, deposition time, and deposition potential, respectively. Furthermore, the predicted model and experimental results for the specific capacity of G-NiO were determined to be 240.91 C/g and 240.58 C/g at 3 mV/s. The results show that the electrochemical deposition technique can be employed as a fast and reliable synthesis route to develop graphene-based metal oxide nanocomposites. The structural and morphological properties were determined by XRD and FESEM studies. The electrochemical measurements revealed the excellent electrochemical performance of 3D graphene NiO composite (G-NiO) for energy storage applications. © 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Origin of large negative electrocaloric effect in antiferroelectric PbZr O3

    Vales-Castro P., Faye R., Vellvehi M., Nouchokgwe Y., Perpiñà X., Caicedo J.M., Jordà X., Roleder K., Kajewski D., Perez-Tomas A., Defay E., Catalan G. Physical Review B; 103 (5, 054112) 2021. 10.1103/PhysRevB.103.054112. IF: 3.575

    Oxide Nanophysics | Nanomaterials Growth Unit | Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices

    We have studied the electrocaloric response of the archetypal antiferroelectric PbZrO3 as a function of voltage and temperature in the vicinity of its antiferroelectric-paraelectric phase transition. Large electrocaloric effects of opposite signs, ranging from an electrocooling of -3.5 K to an electroheating of +5.5K, were directly measured with an infrared camera. We show by calorimetric and electromechanical measurements that the large negative electrocaloric effect comes from an endothermic antiferroelectric-ferroelectric switching, in contrast to dipole destabilization of the antiparallel lattice, previously proposed as an explanation for the negative electrocaloric effect of antiferroelectrics. © 2021 American Physical Society.


  • Paper-based electrophoretic bioassay: Biosensing in whole blood operating via smartphone

    Merkoçi A., Sena-Torralba A., Alvarez-Diduk R., Parolo C., Torné-Morató H., Müller A. Analytical Chemistry; 93 (6): 3112 - 3121. 2021. 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c04330. IF: 6.785

    Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors

    Point-of-care (PoC) tests are practical and effective diagnostic solutions for major clinical problems, ranging from the monitoring of a pandemic to recurrent or simple measurements. Although, in recent years, a great improvement in the analytical performance of such sensors has been observed, there is still a major issue that has not been properly solved: The ability to perform adequate sample treatments. The main reason is that normally sample treatments require complicated or long procedures not adequate for deployment at the PoC. In response, a sensing platform, called paperbased electrophoretic bioassay (PEB), that combines the key characteristics of a lateral flow assay (LFA) with the sample treatment capabilities of electrophoresis is developed. In particular, the ability of PEB to separate different types of particles and to detect human antibodies in untreated spiked whole blood is demonstrated. Finally, to make the platform suitable for PoC, PEB is coupled with a smartphone that controls the electrophoresis and reads the optical signal generated. It is believed that the PEB platform represents a much-needed solution for the detection of low target concentrations in complex media, solving one of the major limitations of LFA and opening opportunities for point-of-care sensors. © 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • Phase formation and thermoelectric properties of Zn1+xSb binary system

    OSTOVARI MOGHADDAM A., TROFIMOV E., ZHANG T., ARBIOL J., CABOT A. Transactions of Nonferrous Metals Society of China (English Edition); 31 (3): 753 - 763. 2021. 10.1016/S1003-6326(21)65536-X. IF: 2.615

    Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    The phase formation and thermoelectric (TE) properties in the central region of the Zn−Sb phase diagram were analyzed through synthesizing a series of Zn1+xSb (x=0, 0.05, 0.1, 0.15, 0.25, 0.3) materials by reacting Zn and Sb powders below the solidus line of the Zn−Sb binary phase diagram followed by furnace cooling. In this process, the nonstoichiometric powder blend crystallized in a combination of ZnSb and β-Zn4Sb3 phases. Then, the materials were ground and hot pressed to form dense ZnSb/β-Zn4Sb3 composites. No traces of Sb and Zn elements or other phases were revealed by X-ray diffraction, high resolution transmission electron microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy analyses. The thermoelectric properties of all materials could be rationalized as a combination of the thermoelectric behavior of ZnSb and β-Zn4Sb3 phases, which were dominated by the main phase in each sample. Zn1.3Sb composite exhibited the best thermoelectric performance. It was also found that Ge doping substantially increased the Seebeck coefficient of Zn1.3Sb and led to significantly higher power factor, up to 1.51 mW·m−1·K−2 at 540 K. Overall, an exceptional and stable TE figure of merit (ZT) of 1.17 at 650 K was obtained for Zn1.28Ge0.02Sb. © 2021 The Nonferrous Metals Society of China


  • Principles, technologies, and applications of plasmonic biosensors

    Soler M., Lechuga L.M. Journal of Applied Physics; 129 (11, 111102) 2021. 10.1063/5.0042811. IF: 2.286

    NanoBiosensors and Bioanalytical Applications

    Plasmonic materials and phenomena have been widely studied and applied in multiple fields for a long time. One of the most promising applications is in the engineering of biosensor devices, offering label-free and real-time analysis of biomolecular interactions with excellent performances. In this tutorial, we provide a pedagogical review of the working principles of plasmonic biosensors, main fabrication methods, instrumentation, and general guidelines for their development. Special focus is placed on the biosensor performance characterization and assessment, as well as on the sensor surface biofunctionalization. In the end, we discuss the common procedure to develop and validate biosensors for relevant biomedical and environmental purposes and future perspectives in terms of boosting capabilities and sensor integration in point-of-care platforms. © 2021 Author(s).


  • Probing the meta-stability of oxide core/shell nanoparticle systems at atomic resolution

    Roldan M.A., Mayence A., López-Ortega A., Ishikawa R., Salafranca J., Estrader M., Salazar-Alvarez G., Dolors Baró M., Nogués J., Pennycook S.J., Varela M. Chemical Engineering Journal; 405 (126820) 2021. 10.1016/j.cej.2020.126820. IF: 10.652

    Magnetic Nanostructures

    Hybrid nanoparticles allow exploiting the interplay of confinement, proximity between different materials and interfacial effects. However, to harness their properties an in-depth understanding of their (meta)stability and interfacial characteristics is crucial. This is especially the case of nanosystems based on functional oxides working under reducing conditions, which may severely impact their properties. In this work, the in-situ electron-induced selective reduction of Mn3O4 to MnO is studied in magnetic Fe3O4/Mn3O4 and Mn3O4/Fe3O4 core/shell nanoparticles by means of high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy combined with electron energy-loss spectroscopy. Such in-situ transformation allows mimicking the actual processes in operando environments. A multi-stage image analysis using geometric phase analysis combined with particle image velocity enables direct monitoring of the relationship between structure, chemical composition and strain relaxation during the Mn3O4 reduction. In the case of Fe3O4/Mn3O4 core/shell the transformation occurs smoothly without the formation of defects. However, for the inverse Mn3O4/Fe3O4 core/shell configuration the electron beam-induced transformation occurs in different stages that include redox reactions and void formation followed by strain field relaxation via formation of defects. This study highlights the relevance of understanding the local dynamics responsible for changes in the particle composition in order to control stability and, ultimately, macroscopic functionality. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Push-Pull Electronic Effects in Surface-Active Sites Enhance Electrocatalytic Oxygen Evolution on Transition Metal Oxides

    Garcés-Pineda F.A., Chuong Nguyën H., Blasco-Ahicart M., García-Tecedor M., de Fez Febré M., Tang P.-Y., Arbiol J., Giménez S., Galán-Mascarós J.R., López N. ChemSusChem; 14 (6): 1595 - 1601. 2021. 10.1002/cssc.202002782. IF: 7.962

    Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    Sustainable electrocatalysis of the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) constitutes a major challenge for the realization of green fuels. Oxides based on Ni and Fe in alkaline media have been proposed to avoid using critical raw materials. However, their ill-defined structures under OER conditions make the identification of key descriptors difficult. Here, we have studied Fe−Ni−Zn spinel oxides, with a well-defined crystal structure, as a platform to obtain general understanding on the key contributions. The OER reaches maximum performance when: (i) Zn is present in the Spinel structure, (ii) very dense, equimolar 1 : 1 : 1 stoichiometry sites appear on the surface as they allow the formation of oxygen vacancies where Zn favors pushing the electronic density that is pulled by the octahedral Fe and tetrahedral Ni redox pair lowering the overpotential. Our work proves cooperative electronic effects on surface active sites as key to design optimum OER electrocatalysts. © 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Pyroelectric thin films - Past, present, and future

    Velarde G., Pandya S., Karthik J., Pesquera D., Martin L.W. APL Materials; 9 (1, 010702) 2021. 10.1063/5.0035735. IF: 3.819

    Oxide Nanophysics

    Pyroelectrics are a material class that undergoes a change in polarization as the temperature of the system is varied. This effect can be utilized for applications ranging from thermal imaging and sensing to waste-heat energy conversion to thermally driven electron emission. Here, we review recent advances in the study and utilization of thin-film pyroelectrics. Leveraging advances in modeling, synthesis, and characterization has provided a pathway forward in one of the more poorly developed subfields of ferroelectricity. We introduce the complex physical phenomena of pyroelectricity, briefly explore the history of work in this space, and highlight not only new advances in the direct measurement of such effects but also how our ability to control thin-film materials is changing our understanding of this response. Finally, we discuss recent advances in thin-film pyroelectric devices and introduce a number of potentially new directions the field may follow in the coming years. © 2021 Author(s).


  • Quantifying the Robustness of Topological Slow Light

    Arregui G., Gomis-Bresco J., Sotomayor-Torres C.M., Garcia P.D. Physical Review Letters; 126 (2, 027403) 2021. 10.1103/PhysRevLett.126.027403. IF: 8.385

    Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures

    The backscattering mean free path ζ, the average ballistic propagation length along a waveguide, quantifies the resistance of slow light against unwanted imperfections in the critical dimensions of the nanostructure. This figure of merit determines the crossover between acceptable slow-light transmission affected by minimal scattering losses and a strong backscattering-induced destructive interference when the waveguide length L exceeds ζ. Here, we calculate the backscattering mean free path for a topological photonic waveguide for a specific and determined amount of disorder and, equally relevant, for a fixed value of the group index ng which is the slowdown factor of the group velocity with respect to the speed of light in vacuum. These two figures of merit, ζand ng, should be taken into account when quantifying the robustness of topological and conventional (nontopological) slow-light transport at the nanoscale. Otherwise, any claim on a better performance of topological guided light over a conventional one is not justified. © 2021 American Physical Society.


  • Real-time monitoring of fenitrothion in water samples using a silicon nanophotonic biosensor

    Ramirez-Priego P., Estévez M.-C., Díaz-Luisravelo H.J., Manclús J.J., Montoya Á., Lechuga L.M. Analytica Chimica Acta; 1152 (338276) 2021. 10.1016/j.aca.2021.338276. IF: 5.977

    NanoBiosensors and Bioanalytical Applications

    Due to the large quantities of pesticides extensively used and their impact on the environment and human health, a prompt and reliable sensing technique could constitute an excellent tool for in-situ monitoring. With this aim, we have applied a highly sensitive photonic biosensor based on a bimodal waveguide interferometer (BiMW) for the rapid, label-free, and specific quantification of fenitrothion (FN) directly in tap water samples. After an optimization protocol, the biosensor achieved a limit of detection (LOD) of 0.29 ng mL−1 (1.05 nM) and a half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 1.71 ng mL−1 (6.09 nM) using a competitive immunoassay and employing diluted tap water. Moreover, the biosensor was successfully employed to determine FN concentration in blind tap water samples obtaining excellent recovery percentages with a time-to-result of only 20 min without any sample pre-treatment. The features of the biosensor suggest its potential application for real time, fast and sensitive screening of FN in water samples as an analytical tool for the monitoring of the water quality. © 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Room temperature synthesis and characterization of novel lead-free double perovskite nanocrystals with a stable and broadband emission

    Tang Y., Gomez L., Van Der Laan M., Timmerman D., Sebastian V., Huang C.-C., Gregorkiewicz T., Schall P. Journal of Materials Chemistry C; 9 (1): 158 - 163. 2021. 10.1039/d0tc04394j. IF: 7.059

    Low-dimensional and lead-free halide perovskites are of great interest for their wide application potential for optoelectronic applications. We report on the successful synthesis of novel lead-free colloidal Cs3BiBr6 nanocrystals (NCs) with an ultra-small size of ∼1.5-3 nm by a room temperature antisolvent process. From crystallographic characterization we show that it is critical to precisely control the ratio of precursors to obtain the pure 3-1-6 phase. The synthesis process is facile and repeatable and results in Cs3BiBr6 NCs that display stable blue emission around 438 nm with a relatively broad linewidth of 92.1 nm. Low-temperature photoluminescence (PL) measurements displayed a red-shift of bandgap with decreasing temperature, which might be attributed to the thermal expansion of the lattice. In addition, the NCs demonstrate high stability at ambient conditions. This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry.


  • Self-organised stripe domains and elliptical skyrmion bubbles in ultra-thin epitaxial Au0.67Pt0.33/Co/W(110) films

    Camosi L., Garcia J.P., Fruchart O., Pizzini S., Locatelli A., Menteş T.O., Genuzio F., Shaw J.M., Nembach H.T., Vogel J. New Journal of Physics; 23 (1, 013020) 2021. 10.1088/1367-2630/abdbe0. IF: 3.593

    Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices

    We studied the symmetry of magnetic properties and the resulting magnetic textures in ultra-thin epitaxial Au0.67Pt0.33/Co/W(110), a model system exhibiting perpendicular magnetic anisotropy and interface Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction (DMI). As a peculiar feature, the C2v crystal symmetry induced by the Co/W interface results in an additional uniaxial in-plane magnetic anisotropy in the cobalt layer. Photo-emission electron microscopy with magnetic sensitivity reveals the formation of self-organised magnetic stripe domains oriented parallel to the hard in-plane magnetisation axis. We attribute this behavior to the lower domain wall energy when oriented along this axis, where both the DMI and the in-plane magnetic anisotropy favor a Néel domain wall configuration. The anisotropic domain wall energy also leads to the formation of elliptical skyrmion bubbles under a weak out-of-plane magnetic field. © 2021 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd on behalf of the Institute of Physics and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft


  • Shedding plasma membrane vesicles induced by graphene oxide nanoflakes in brain cultured astrocytes

    Musto M., Parisse P., Pachetti M., Memo C., Di Mauro G., Ballesteros B., Lozano N., Kostarelos K., Casalis L., Ballerini L. Carbon; 176: 458 - 469. 2021. 10.1016/j.carbon.2021.01.142. IF: 8.821

    Nanomedicine | Electron Microscopy Unit

    Microvesicles (MVs) generated and released by astrocytes, the brain prevalent cells, crucially contribute to intercellular communication, representing key vectorized systems able to spread and actively transfer signaling molecules from astrocytes to neurons, ultimately modulating target cell functions. The increasing clinical relevance of these signaling systems requires a deeper understanding of MV features, currently limited by both their nanoscale dimensions and the low rate of their constituent release. Hence, to investigate the features of such glial signals, nanotechnology-based approaches and the applications of unconventional, cost-effective tools in generating MVs are needed. Here, small graphene oxide (s-GO) nanoflakes are used to boost MVs shedding from astrocytes in cultures and s-GO generated MVs are compared with those generated by a natural stimulant, namely ATP, by atomic force microscopy, light scattering, attenuated total reflection–fourier transform infra-red and ultraviolet resonance Raman spectroscopy. We also report the ability of both types of MVs, upon acute and transient exposure of patch clamped cultured neurons, to modulate basal synaptic transmission, inducing a stable increase in synaptic activity accompanied by changes in neuronal plasma membrane elastic features. © 2021 The Author(s)


  • Sheet-on-sheet like calcium ferrite and graphene nanoplatelets nanocomposite: A multifunctional nanocomposite for high-performance supercapacitor and visible light driven photocatalysis

    Israr M., Iqbal J., Arshad A., Gómez-Romero P. Journal of Solid State Chemistry; 293 (121646) 2021. 10.1016/j.jssc.2020.121646. IF: 2.726

    Novel Energy-Oriented Materials

    Calcium ferrite-graphene nanoplatelets nanocomposites with sheet-on-sheet like morphology are fabricated and investigated for their physicochemical characteristics, electrochemical energy storage capacity and photocatalysis. Interestingly, the (CF)1-x (GNPs)x nanocomposite-based electrode has shown maximum specific capacitance up to 422 ​Fg-1 at 0.25 Ag-1 with excellent cycling stability, 2.6 times higher than that of neat CF nanosheets. Furthermore, the synergistic contribution from photocatalytic and photo-Fenton reactions enables (CF)1-x (GNPs)x nanocomposites to offer superior photocatalytic activity (99.4% dye removal in 90 ​min). The inclusion of GNPs significantly enhances the charge carriers separation and transportation. The excellent electrochemical efficiency of (CF)1-x (GNPs)x could be attributed to the 2D interfacial interactions that provide a better charge transport at electrode/electrolyte interface. These interactions are also responsible for creating effective charge transport pathways and efficient e−/h+ separation leading to rapid dye-degradation, which make the material potential for remediation of water pollution and energy storage systems. © 2020 Elsevier Inc.


  • Solvent-tuned ultrasonic synthesis of 2D coordination polymer nanostructures and flakes

    Pepió B., Contreras-Pereda N., Suárez-García S., Hayati P., Benmansour S., Retailleau P., Morsali A., Ruiz-Molina D. Ultrasonics Sonochemistry; 72 (105425) 2021. 10.1016/j.ultsonch.2020.105425. IF: 6.513

    Nanostructured Functional Materials

    Herein, a new 2-dimensional coordination polymer based on copper (II), {Cu2(L)(DMF)2}n, where L stands for 1,2,4,5-benzenetetracarboxylate (complex 1) is synthesized. Interestingly, we demonstrate that both solvent and sonication are relevant in the top-down fabrication of nanostructures. Water molecules are intercalated in suspended crystals of complex 1 modifying not only the coordination sphere of Cu(II) ions but also the final chemical formula and crystalline structure obtaining {[Cu(L)(H2O)3]·H2O}n (complex 2). On the other hand, ultrasound is required to induce the nanostructuration. Remarkably, different morphologies are obtained using different solvents and interconversion from one morphology to another seems to occur upon solvent exchange. Both complexes 1 and 2, as well as the corresponding nanostructures, have been fully characterized by different means such as infrared spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction and microscopy. © 2020 The Authors


  • Spontaneous phase segregation of Sr2NiO3 and SrNi2O3 during SrNiO3 heteroepitaxy

    Wang L., Yang Z., Yin X., Taylor S.D., He X., Tang C.S., Bowden M.E., Zhao J., Wang J., Liu J., Perea D.E., Wangoh L., Wee A.T.S., Zhou H., Chambers S.A., Du Y. Science Advances; 7 (10, eabe2866) 2021. 10.1126/sciadv.abe2866. IF: 13.117

    Theory and Simulation

    Recent discovery of superconductivity in Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO2 motivates the synthesis of other nickelates for providing insights into the origin of high-temperature superconductivity. However, the synthesis of stoichiometric R1−xSrxNiO3 thin films over a range of x has proven challenging. Moreover, little is known about the structures and properties of the end member SrNiO3. Here, we show that spontaneous phase segregation occurs while depositing SrNiO3 thin films on perovskite oxide substrates by molecular beam epitaxy. Two coexisting oxygen-deficient Ruddlesden-Popper phases, Sr2NiO3 and SrNi2O3, are formed to balance the stoichiometry and stabilize the energetically preferred Ni2+ cation. Our study sheds light on an unusual oxide thin-film nucleation process driven by the instability in perovskite structured SrNiO3 and the tendency of transition metal cations to form their most stable valence (i.e., Ni2+ in this case). The resulting metastable reduced Ruddlesden-Popper structures offer a testbed for further studying emerging phenomena in nickel-based oxides. Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved;


  • Stress-mediated solution deposition method to stabilize ferroelectric BiFe1-xCrxO3 perovskite thin films with narrow bandgaps

    Jiménez R., Ricote J., Bretos I., Jiménez Riobóo R.J., Mompean F., Ruiz A., Xie H., Lira-Cantú M., Calzada M.L. Journal of the European Ceramic Society; 2021. 10.1016/j.jeurceramsoc.2020.12.042. IF: 4.495

    Nanostructured Materials for Photovoltaic Energy

    Ferroelectric oxides with low bandgaps are mainly based on the BiFeO3 perovskite upon the partial substitution of iron with different cations. However, the structural stability of many of these perovskites is only possible by their processing at high pressures (HP, >1GPa) and high temperatures (HT, >700ºC). Preparation methods under these severe conditions are accessible to powders and bulk ceramics. However, transferring these conditions to the fabrication of thin films is a challenge, thus limiting their use in applications. Here, a chemical solution deposition method is devised, which overcomes many of these restrictions. It is based on the application of an external compressive-stress to the film sample during the thermal treatment required for the film crystallization, promoting the formation and stabilization of these HP perovskites. We demonstrate the concept on BiFe1-xCrxO3 (BFCO) thin films deposited on SrTiO3 (STO) substrates and with large chromium contents. The resulting BFCO perovskite films show narrow bandgaps (Eg∼2.57 eV) and an excellent ferroelectric response (remnant polarization, PR∼ 40 μC cm−2). The polarized thin films under illumination present a large out-put power of ∼6.4 μW cm−2, demonstrating their potential for using in self-powered multifunctional devices. This stress-mediated solution deposition method can be extended to other perovskite films which are unviable under conventional deposition methods. © 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Stressor‐dependant changes in immune parameters in the terrestrial isopod crustacean, porcellio scaber: A focus on nanomaterials

    Mayall C., Dolar A., Kokalj A.J., Novak S., Razinger J., Barbero F., Puntes V., Drobne D. Nanomaterials; 11 (4, 934) 2021. 10.3390/nano11040934. IF: 4.324

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    We compared the changes of selected immune parameters of Porcellio scaber to different stressors. The animals were either fed for two weeks with Au nanoparticles (NPs), CeO2 NPs, or Au ions or body‐injected with Au NPs, CeO2 NPs, or lipopolysaccharide endotoxin. Contrary to expec-tations, the feeding experiment showed that both NPs caused a significant increase in the total hae-mocyte count (THC). In contrast, the ion‐positive control resulted in a significantly decreased THC. Additionally, changes in phenoloxidase (PO)‐like activity, haemocyte viability, and nitric oxide (NO) levels seemed to depend on the stressor. Injection experiments also showed stressor‐depend-ant changes in measured parameters, such as CeO2 NPs and lipopolysaccharide endotoxin (LPS), caused more significant responses than Au NPs. These results show that feeding and injection of NPs caused an immune response and that the response differed significantly, depending on the exposure route. We did not expect the response to ingested NPs, due to the low exposure concentrations (100 μg/g dry weight food) and a firm gut epithelia, along with a lack of phagocytosis in the digestive system, which would theoretically prevent NPs from crossing the biological barrier. It remains a challenge for future research to reveal what the physiological and ecological significance is for the organism to sense and respond, via the immune system, to ingested foreign material. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Sustained effect of zero-valent iron nanoparticles under semi-continuous anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge: Evolution of nanoparticles and microbial community dynamics

    Barrena R., Vargas-García M.D.C., Capell G., Barańska M., Puntes V., Moral-Vico J., Sánchez A., Font X. Science of the Total Environment; 777 (145969) 2021. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145969. IF: 6.551

    Inorganic Nanoparticles

    The effects of adding zero-valent iron nanoparticles (nZVI) on the physicochemical, biological and biochemical responses of a semi-continuous anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge have been assessed. Two sets of consecutive experiments of 103 and 116 days, respectively, were carried out in triplicate. nZVI were magnetically retained in the reactors, and the effect of punctual doses (from 0.27 to 4.33 g L−1) over time was studied. Among the different parameters monitored, only methane content in the biogas was significantly higher when nZVI was added. However, this effect was progressively lost after the addition, and in 5–7 days, the methane content returned to initial values. The increase in the oxidation state of nanoparticles seems to be related to the loss of effect over time. Higher dose (4.33 g L−1) sustained positive effects for a longer time along with higher methane content, but this fact seems to be related to microbiome acclimation. Changes in microbial community structure could also play a role in the mechanisms involved in methane enhancement. In this sense, the microbial consortium analysis reported a shift in the balance among acetogenic eubacterial communities, and a marked increase in the relative abundance of members assigned to Methanothrix genus, recognized as acetoclastic species showing high affinity for acetate, which explain the rise in methane content in the biogas. This research demonstrates that biogas methane enrichment in semicontinuous anaerobic digesters can be achieved by using nZVI nanoparticles, thus increasing energy production or reducing costs of a later biogas upgrading process. © 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Synthesis of Polycarboxylate Rhodium(II) Metal–Organic Polyhedra (MOPs) and their use as Building Blocks for Highly Connected Metal–Organic Frameworks (MOFs)

    Grancha T., Carné-Sánchez A., Zarekarizi F., Hernández-López L., Albalad J., Khobotov A., Guillerm V., Morsali A., Juanhuix J., Gándara F., Imaz I., Maspoch D. Angewandte Chemie - International Edition; 60 (11): 5729 - 5733. 2021. 10.1002/anie.202013839. IF: 12.959

    Supramolecular NanoChemistry and Materials

    Use of preformed metal-organic polyhedra (MOPs) as supermolecular building blocks (SBBs) for the synthesis of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) remains underexplored due to lack of robust functionalized MOPs. Herein we report the use of polycarboxylate cuboctahedral RhII-MOPs for constructing highly-connected MOFs. Cuboctahedral MOPs were functionalized with carboxylic acid groups on their 12 vertices or 24 edges through coordinative or covalent post-synthetic routes, respectively. We then used each isolated polycarboxylate RhII-MOP as 12-c cuboctahedral or 24-c rhombicuboctahedral SBBs that, upon linkage with metallic secondary building units (SBUs), afford bimetallic highly-connected MOFs. The assembly of a pre-synthesized 12-c SBB with a 4-c paddle-wheel SBU, and a 24-c SBB with a 3-c triangular CuII SBU gave rise to bimetallic MOFs having ftw (4,12)-c or rht (3,24)-c topologies, respectively. © 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • TB2J: A python package for computing magnetic interaction parameters

    He X., Helbig N., Verstraete M.J., Bousquet E. Computer Physics Communications; 264 (107938) 2021. 10.1016/j.cpc.2021.107938. IF: 3.627

    Theory and Simulation

    We present TB2J, a Python package for the automatic computation of magnetic interactions, including exchange and Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya, between atoms of magnetic crystals from the results of density functional calculations. The program is based on the Green's function method with the local rigid spin rotation treated as a perturbation. As input, the package uses the output of either Wannier90, which is interfaced with many density functional theory packages, or of codes based on localized orbitals. One of the main interests of the code is that it requires only one first-principles electronic structure calculation in the non-relativistic case (or three in the relativistic case) and from the primitive cell only to obtain the magnetic interactions up to long distances, instead of first-principles calculations of many different magnetic configurations and large supercells. The output of TB2J can be used directly for the adiabatic magnon band structure and spin dynamics calculations. A minimal user input is needed, which allows for easy integration into high-throughput workflows. Program summary: Program Title: TB2J CPC Library link to program files: https://doi.org/10.17632/dm45fcn69d.1 Developer's repository link: https://github.com/mailhexu/TB2J Code Ocean capsule: https://codeocean.com/capsule/6486145 Licensing provisions: BSD 2-clause Programming language: Python Nature of problem: TB2J is a package for the computing of parameters in the extended Heisenberg model of the magnetic interaction, including the isotropic exchange, anisotropic exchange and Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interactions from first principles result. It can make use of the Wannier function Hamiltonian, which can be constructed from many first principles codes, or localized orbital based codes. Solution method: It uses the magnetic force theorem and takes the rigid spin rotation as a perturbation to the electronic structure. The energy variation is calculated from the Green's functions from tight-binding like Hamiltonian based on Wannier functions or localized orbitals. Additional comments including restrictions and unusual features: Isotropic exchange, anisotropic exchange, and Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interactions can all be computed with the input of many DFT codes through the interface of Wannier90, or directly from localized orbital codes. The magnetic interaction parameters up to any distance can be computed from one DFT calculation. A minimum user-input is required which provides a black-box like experience. It generates output for several spin dynamics codes and thus bridges the first principles electronic structure simulation with the large scale spin dynamics simulation. © 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • The impact of spiro-OMeTAD photodoping on the reversible light-induced transients of perovskite solar cells

    Tan B., Raga S.R., Rietwyk K.J., Lu J., Fürer S.O., Griffith J.C., Cheng Y.-B., Bach U. Nano Energy; 82 (105658) 2021. 10.1016/j.nanoen.2020.105658. IF: 16.602

    Nanostructured Materials for Photovoltaic Energy

    Hole transporting materials (HTMs) play essential roles in facilitating hole extraction and suppressing recombination in lead halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs). High levels of p-doping in HTMs is necessary for achieving high device performance, attributed to an increased electrical conductivity. In this work, we provide evidences that the poor performance of PSCs with low levels of doping (i.e., 4 mol% spiro-OMeTAD+) in spiro-OMeTAD is mainly caused by the presence of a Schottky barrier at the perovskite/spiro-OMeTAD interface, hampering hole injection. Under continuous illumination at open-circuit condition, the barrier gradually diminishes, increasing the PSC power conversion efficiency by 70-fold after 7 h. This process is completely reversible, returning to the initial poor performance after dark storage. We attribute this improvement in performance to a gradual photodoping of spiro-OMeTAD, triggered by the transfer of photogenerated holes and mediated by the slow migration of halide anions from perovskite to compensate the newly formed spiro-OMeTAD+. In-situ parallel analyses with impedance spectroscopy (IS) and photoluminescence are employed to gain insights into the charge dynamics along with light soaking. We find that the Schottky barrier resistance overlays with the recombination signal at the high frequency arc of IS, having important implications for the IS data analysis for PSCs. The work elucidates a major mechanism causing the slow efficiency variations during light/dark cycling, commonly observed in PSCs, which complicates the determination of long-term stability. © 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • The Microbiome Meets Nanotechnology: Opportunities and Challenges in Developing New Diagnostic Devices

    Fuentes-Chust C., Parolo C., Rosati G., Rivas L., Perez-Toralla K., Simon S., de Lecuona I., Junot C., Trebicka J., Merkoçi A. Advanced Materials; 2021. 10.1002/adma.202006104. IF: 27.398

    Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors

    Monitoring of the human microbiome is an emerging area of diagnostics for personalized medicine. Here, the potential of different nanomaterials and nanobiosensing technologies is reviewed for the development of novel diagnostic devices for the detection and measurement of microbiome-related biomarkers. Moreover, the current and future landscape of microbiome-based diagnostics is defined by exploring the advantages and disadvantages of current nanotechnology-based approaches, especially in the context of developing point-of-care (PoC) devices that would meet the international guidelines known as REASSURED (Real-time connectivity; Ease of specimen collection; Affordability; Sensitivity; Specificity; User-friendliness; Rapid & robust operation; Equipment-free; and Deliverability). Finally, the strategies of the latest international scientific consortia working in this field are analyzed, the current microbiome diagnostics market are reported and the principal ethical, legal, and societal issues related to microbiome R&D and innovation are discussed. © 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Thermal conductivity of benzothieno-benzothiophene derivatives at the nanoscale

    Gueye M.N., Vercouter A., Jouclas R., Guérin D., Lemaur V., Schweicher G., Lenfant S., Antidormi A., Geerts Y., Melis C., Cornil J., Vuillaume D. Nanoscale; 13 (6): 3800 - 3807. 2021. 10.1039/d0nr08619c. IF: 6.895

    Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience

    We study by scanning thermal microscopy the nanoscale thermal conductance of films (40-400 nm thick) of [1]benzothieno[3,2-b][1]benzothiophene (BTBT) and 2,7-dioctyl[1]benzothieno[3,2-b][1]benzothiophene (C8-BTBT-C8). We demonstrate that the out-of-plane thermal conductivity is significant along the interlayer direction, larger for BTBT (0.63 ± 0.12 W m-1 K-1) compared to C8-BTBT-C8 (0.25 ± 0.13 W m-1 K-1). These results are supported by molecular dynamics calculations (approach to equilibrium molecular dynamics method) performed on the corresponding molecular crystals. The calculations point to significant thermal conductivity (3D-like) values along the 3 crystalline directions, with anisotropy factors between the crystalline directions below 1.8 for BTBT and below 2.8 for C8-BTBT-C8, in deep contrast with the charge transport properties featuring a two-dimensional character for these materials. In agreement with the experiments, the calculations yield larger values in BTBT compared to C8-BTBT-C8 (0.6-1.3 W m-1 K-1versus 0.3-0.7 W m-1 K-1, respectively). The weak thickness dependence of the nanoscale thermal resistance is in agreement with a simple analytical model. This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry.


  • Thermal transport in amorphous graphene with varying structural quality

    Antidormi A., Colombo L., Roche S. 2D Materials; 8 (1, 015028) 2021. 10.1088/2053-1583/abc7f8. IF: 7.140

    Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience

    The synthesis of wafer-scale two-dimensional amorphous carbon monolayers has been recently demonstrated. This material presents useful properties when integrated as coating of metals, semiconductors or magnetic materials, such as enabling efficient atomic layer deposition and hence fostering the development of ultracompact technologies. Here we propose a characterization of how the structural degree of amorphousness of such carbon membranes could be controlled by the crystal growth temperature. We also identify how energy is dissipated in this material by a systematic analysis of emerging vibrational modes whose localization increases with the loss of spatial symmetries, resulting in a tunable thermal conductivity varying by more than two orders of magnitude. Our simulations provide some recipe to design most suitable 'amorphous graphene' based on the target applications such as ultrathin heat spreaders, energy harvesters or insulating thermal barriers. © 2020 IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • Thiol-yne click reaction: an interesting way to derive thiol-provided catechols

    Nador F., Mancebo-Aracil J., Zanotto D., Ruiz-Molina D., Radivoy G. RSC Advances; 11 (4): 2074 - 2082. 2021. 10.1039/d0ra09687c. IF: 3.119

    Nanostructured Functional Materials

    The hydrothiolation of activated alkynes is presented as an attractive and powerful way to functionalize thiols bearing catechols. The reaction was promoted by a heterogeneous catalyst composed of copper nanoparticles supported on TiO2 (CuNPs/TiO2) in 1,2-dichloroethane (1,2-DCE) under heating at 80 °C. The catalyst could be recovered and reused in three consecutive cycles, showing a slight decrease in its catalytic activity. Thiol derivatives bearing catechol moieties, obtained through a versatile Michael addition, were reacted with different activated alkynes, such as methyl propiolate, propiolic acid, propiolamide or 2-ethynylpyridine. The reaction was shown to be regio- and stereoselective towards anti-Markovnikov Z-vinyl sulfide in most cases studied. Finally, some catechol derivatives obtained were tested as ligands in the preparation of coordination polymer nanoparticles (CNPs), by taking the advantage of their different coordination sites with metals such as iron and cobalt. © 2021 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


  • Trends in Micro-/Nanorobotics: Materials Development, Actuation, Localization, and System Integration for Biomedical Applications

    Wang B., Kostarelos K., Nelson B.J., Zhang L. Advanced Materials; 33 (4, 2002047) 2021. 10.1002/adma.202002047. IF: 27.398

    Nanomedicine

    Micro-/nanorobots (m-bots) have attracted significant interest due to their suitability for applications in biomedical engineering and environmental remediation. Particularly, their applications in in vivo diagnosis and intervention have been the focus of extensive research in recent years with various clinical imaging techniques being applied for localization and tracking. The successful integration of well-designed m-bots with surface functionalization, remote actuation systems, and imaging techniques becomes the crucial step toward biomedical applications, especially for the in vivo uses. This review thus addresses four different aspects of biomedical m-bots: design/fabrication, functionalization, actuation, and localization. The biomedical applications of the m-bots in diagnosis, sensing, microsurgery, targeted drug/cell delivery, thrombus ablation, and wound healing are reviewed from these viewpoints. The developed biomedical m-bot systems are comprehensively compared and evaluated based on their characteristics. The current challenges and the directions of future research in this field are summarized. © 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Tuning the Electronic Bandgap of Graphdiyne by H-Substitution to Promote Interfacial Charge Carrier Separation for Enhanced Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production

    Li J., Slassi A., Han X., Cornil D., Ha-Thi M.-H., Pino T., Debecker D.P., Colbeau-Justin C., Arbiol J., Cornil J., Ghazzal M.N. Advanced Functional Materials; 2021. 10.1002/adfm.202100994. IF: 16.836

    Advanced Electron Nanoscopy

    Graphdiyne (GDY), which features a highly π-conjugated structure, direct bandgap, and high charge carrier mobility, presents the major requirements for photocatalysis. Up to now, all photocatalytic studies are performed without paying too much attention on the GDY bandgap (1.1 eV at the G0W0 many-body theory level). Such a narrow bandgap is not suitable for the band alignment between GDY and other semiconductors, making it difficult to achieve efficient photogenerated charge carrier separation. Herein, for the first time, it is demonstrated that tuning the electronic bandgap of GDY via H-substitution (H-GDY) promotes interfacial charge separation and improves photocatalytic H2 evolution. The H-GDY exhibits an increased bandgap energy (≈2.5 eV) and exploitable conduction band minimum and valence band maximum edges. As a representative semiconductor, TiO2 is hybridized with both H-GDY and GDY to fabricate a heterojunction. Compared to the GDY/TiO2, the H-GDY/TiO2 heterojunction leads to a remarkable enhancement of the photocatalytic H2 generation by 1.35 times under UV–visible illumination (6200 µmol h−1 g−1) and four times under visible light (670 µmol h−1 g−1). Such enhancement is attributed to the suitable band alignment between H-GDY and TiO2, which efficiently promotes the photogenerated electron and hole separation, as supported by density functional theory calculations. © 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Ultrasound-assisted exfoliation of a layered 2D coordination polymer with HER electrocatalytic activity

    Contreras-Pereda N., Moghzi F., Baselga J., Zhong H., Janczak J., Soleimannejad J., Dong R., Ruiz-Molina D. Ultrasonics Sonochemistry; 70 (105292) 2021. 10.1016/j.ultsonch.2020.105292. IF: 6.513

    Nanostructured Functional Materials

    Large blue rectangular crystals of the 2D layered coordination polymer 1 have been obtained. The interest for this complex is two-fold. First, complex 1 is made of 2D layers packing along the (0–11) direction favored by the presence of lattice and coordinated water molecules. And second, nanostructures that could be derived by delamination are potentially suitable for catalytic purposes. Therefore it represents an excellent example to study the role of interlayer solvent molecules on the ultrasound-assisted delamination of functionally-active 2D metal-organic frameworks in water, a field of growing interest. With this aim, ultrasound-assisted delamination of the crystals was optimized with time, leading to stable nanosheet colloidal water suspensions with very homogeneous dimensions. Alternative bottom-up synthesis of related nanocrystals under ultrasound sonication yielded similar shaped crystals with much higher size dispersions. Finally, experimental results evidence that the nanostructures have higher catalytic activities in comparison to their bulk counterparts, due to larger metallic center exposition. These outcomes confirm that the combination of liquid phase exfoliation and a suitable synthetic design of 2D coordination polymers represents a very fruitful approach for the synthesis of functional nanosheets with an enhancement of catalytic active sites, and in general, with boosted functional properties. © 2020 Elsevier B.V.


  • Understanding the molecular basis of 5-ht4 receptor partial agonists through 3d-qsar studies

    Castro-Alvarez A., Chávez-ángel E., Nelson R. International Journal of Molecular Sciences; 22 (7, 3602) 2021. 10.3390/ijms22073602. IF: 4.556

    Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures

    Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder whose prevalence has an incidence in senior citizens. Unfortunately, current pharmacotherapy only offers symptom relief for patients with side effects such as bradycardia, nausea, and vomiting. Therefore, there is a present need to provide other therapeutic alternatives for treatments for these disorders. The 5-HT4 receptor is an attractive therapeutic target since it has a potential role in central and peripheral nervous system disorders such as AD, irritable bowel syndrome, and gastroparesis. Quantitative structure-activity relationship analysis of a series of 62 active compounds in the 5-HT4 receptor was carried out in the present work. The structure-activity relationship was estimated using three-dimensional quantitative structure-activity relationship (3D-QSAR) techniques based on these structures’ field molecular (force and Gaussian field). The best force-field QSAR models achieve a value for the coefficient of determination of the training set of R2 training = 0.821, and for the test set R2 test = 0.667, while for Gaussian-field QSAR the training and the test were R2 training = 0.898 and R2 test = 0.695, respectively. The obtained results were validated using a coefficient of correlation of the leave-one-out cross-validation of Q2LOO = 0.804 and Q2LOO = 0.886 for force-and Gaussian-field QSAR, respectively. Based on these results, novel 5-HT4 partial agonists with potential biological activity (pEC50 8.209– 9.417 for force-field QSAR and 9.111–9.856 for Gaussian-field QSAR) were designed. In addition, for the new analogues, their absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity properties were also analyzed. The results show that these new derivatives also have reasonable pharmacokinetics and drug-like properties. Our findings suggest novel routes for the design and development of new 5-HT4 partial agonists. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Unraveling the Key Relationship Between Perovskite Capacitive Memory, Long Timescale Cooperative Relaxation Phenomena, and Anomalous J–V Hysteresis

    Hernández-Balaguera E., del Pozo G., Arredondo B., Romero B., Pereyra C., Xie H., Lira-Cantú M. Solar RRL; 5 (4, 2000707) 2021. 10.1002/solr.202000707. IF: 7.527

    Nanostructured Materials for Photovoltaic Energy

    Capacitive response at long time scales seems to remain an elusive feature in the analysis of the electrical properties of perovskite-based solar cells. It belongs to one of the critical anomalous effects that arises from the characteristic phenomenology of this type of emerging photovoltaic devices. Thereby, accurately deducing key capacitance feature of new light harvesting perovskites from electrical measurements represents a significant challenge regarding the interpretation of physical processes and the control of undesired mechanisms, such as slow dynamic effects and/or current density–voltage (J–V) hysteresis. Herein, it is shown that long timescale mechanisms that give rise to hysteresis in stable and high-efficiency quadruple-cation perovskites are not due to a classical capacitive behavior in the sense of ideal charge accumulation processes. Instead, it is a phenomenological consequence of slow memory-based capacitive currents and the underlying cooperative relaxations. A fractional dynamics approach, based on the idea of capacitance distribution in perovskite devices, reliably models the slow transient phenomena and the consequent scan-rate- and bias-dependent hysteresis. Observable for a wide variety of photovoltaic halide perovskites, distributed capacitive effects are rather universal anomalous phenomena, which can be related to the long-time electrical response and hysteresis. © 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • Valley Hall effect and nonlocal resistance in locally gapped graphene

    Aktor T., Garcia J.H., Roche S., Jauho A.-P., Power S.R. Physical Review B; 103 (11, 115406) 2021. 10.1103/PhysRevB.103.115406. IF: 3.575

    Theoretical and Computational Nanoscience

    We report on the emergence of bulk, valley-polarized currents in graphene-based devices, driven by spatially varying regions of broken sublattice symmetry, and revealed by nonlocal resistance (RNL) fingerprints. By using a combination of quantum transport formalisms, giving access to bulk properties as well as multiterminal device responses, the presence of a nonuniform local band gap is shown to give rise to valley-dependent scattering and a finite Fermi-surface contribution to the valley Hall conductivity, related to characteristics of RNL. These features are robust against disorder and provide a plausible interpretation of controversial experiments in graphene/hexagonal boron nitride superlattices. Our findings suggest both an alternative mechanism for the generation of valley Hall effect in graphene and a route towards valley-dependent electron optics, by materials and device engineering. © 2021 American Physical Society.