Selection 1 and 4 — proposed experimental themes 2023

  • Title: Functional Electron Beams
    Tutor: Prof. Marco Beleggia.
    Abstract: This project aims at developing the concept of functional electron beams: use the electrons illuminating a sample to trigger local, controlled physical/chemical changes to the material [1]. This concept originates from Organic Ice Resist Lithography, a method for fabricating nanostructures from thin frozen layer of organic material [2-4]. The transformation of volatile molecules into a solid pattern is beam driven: acting as ionizing radiation, it progressively de-hydrogenates the molecules, creating long-lasting radicals and broken C-H bonds due to the limited mobility of chemical species and molecular fragments at low temperature. Upon warming up, the system quickly polymerizes by cross-linking. The main goal of this project is to apply functional beams to technologically relevant nanomaterials and demonstrate experimentally its disruptive potential by promoting successfully a nanoscale physical/chemical reaction impossible to realize by conventional routes.
    Collaborations: CNR Nano (IT), Technical University of Denmark (DK), Forschungzentrum Juelich (DE).
    References:
    [1] J. Phys. Chem. C 119, 5301-5310 (2015).
    [2] Nanoletters 17, 7886-7891 (2017).
    [3] Microel. Eng. 192, 38-43 (2018).
    [4] Nanoletters 18, 7576-7582 (2018).
  • Title: Artificial Intelligence Enhanced Electron Microscopy
    Tutor: Proff. Marco Beleggia, Stefano Frabboni.
    Abstract: This project's objective is to utilize artificial intelligence to establish a new imaging method in electron microscopy that can overcome the current lateral resolution limitations in low-dose conditions. The project develops from the concept of computational ghost imaging, where the coincident measurement of two entangled electrons forms the image of an object taking the information from the electron that has not passed through the object. To implement this perspective it is necessary to develop a control system of the instrument and of its electron-optical components that allows for beam-shaping of the illumination, automated data acquisition and analysis, in a fashion that is most optimized and detached from human operators.
    Collaborations: CNR-S3 (Grillo), FZ-Juelich (Dunin-Borkowski).
    References & links
    Rotunno E, Tavabi AH, Rosi P, Frabboni S, Tiemeijer P, Dunin-Borkowski RE, GRILLO V (2021). Alignment of electron optical beam shaping elements using a convolutional neural network. ULTRAMICROSCOPY, vol. 228, ISSN: 0304-3991, doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ultramic.2021.113338.
  • Title: Magnetic surfaces investigation by Quantum Magnetometry
    Tutor: Prof. M. Affronte, Dr. A. Ghirri (CNR-NANO) (https://www.lowtlab.unimore.it/)
    Abstract: Nitrogen vacancy (NV) centers in diamond offer unique characteristics as spin sensors capable of probing nanoscale magnetic fields in a nonperturbative way. During this experimental PhD Thesis, the candidate will set up an learn to use the new magneto-optical quantum technique of Optically Detected Magnetic Resonance. More specifically, this proposal aims at: (a) the realization of a NV magnetometer for the implementation of quantum sensing protocols; (b) the investigation of surface magnetism of proximal magnetic materials with this technique. The project will then focus on the study of spin wave modes in ferromagnetic films aiming at achieving the highest spatial resolution and wavevector sensitivity.
    Collaborations: Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Torino.
    References:
    [1] Casola et al., Nat. Rev. Mater. 3, 17088 (2018)
    [2] Awschalom et al., IEEE Trans. Q. Eng 2, 5500836 (2021)
  • Title: Protocols for Encoding Molecular Spin Qubits by means of Planar Superconducting Microwave Resonators
    Tutor: Prof. Marco Affronte, Dr. Claudio Bonizzoni (https://www.lowtlab.unimore.it/)
    Abstract: Molecular spins hold potential for encoding quantum bits when integrated into planar superconducting microwave resonators [1]. Molecular spins have been demonstrated to be suitable candidates for: i) encoding spin qubits [2], ii) realizing temporary memories for information [2], iii) implementing prototypes of basic single-qubit gate operations [3]. This thesis project aims to develop, implement and test advanced protocols (i.e. microwave pulses sequences) for initializing, manipulating and reading out molecular spin qubits at low temperature also by using machine learning approaches [3]. The proposed PhD activity aims at mastering microwave sequences for quantum control of solid state qubits and it aims at the design and test of protocols for quantum sensing, and at the development of mixed microwave-radiofrequency protocols for the implementation of two-qubit gate operations.
    Collaborations: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (D).
    References & links:
    [1] Adv. Phys. X 3,1435305 (2018)
    [2] NPJ Quant. Inf. 6,68 (2020)
    [3] Phys. Rev. Appl. 18, 064074 (2022)
  • Title: Growth and functional properties of physically synthesized metal/ metal oxides core-shell nanoparticles.
    Tutor: Prof. Sergio D’Addato
    Abstract: The interest in metal nanostructured films has grown in the last years because of their fascinating physical properties and their potentiality in various applications, like magnetic recording industry, catalysis and plasmonics [1,2]. We propose a PhD thesis devoted to the investigation of metal and core-shell oxide-metal nanoparticles physically synthesized with a gas aggregation source, able to produce and mass-selected nanoclusters [2]. The study will be focused on the structure, chemical and magnetic properties of the individual particles and of the nanoparticle assembled films. Some of the techniques to be used in campus will be XPS, SEM, TEM and visible-UV spectroscopy. Part of the experimental activity will be also carried out at synchrotrons (XAFS, resonant photoemission and XMCD experiments). During this part of the activity the Ph. D. student will collaborate with CNR-IOM-ISM researchers at the ELETTRA synchrotron, performing also experiments on physically synthesized free nanoclusters beams at the Gas-phase and Circular Polarization beamlines.
    Collaborations: Dr. Yves Huttel, ICM-CSIC, Madrid; Dr. Marcello Coreno, ISM-CNR, Dr. Monica De Simone, IOM-CNR, Trieste.
    References:
    [1] S. D’Addato et al. Materials 21 (2022) 4429
    [2] J. S. Pelli Cresi et al., Nano Letters 21, 1729 (2021)
    [3] M.C. Spadaro, S. D’Addato, Phys. Scr. 93 (2018) 033001.
  • Title: Oxide-based materials for catalysis and energy-related applications.
    Tutor: Paola Luches, Stefania Benedetti, Sergio D’Addato
    Abstract: The catalytic activity of oxides can be greatly enhanced by the inclusion of low-concentration dopants or by nanostructuration. The proposed work aims at the design and synthesis of well-controlled oxide-based materials and at the study of their interaction with simple molecules, like H2, H2O or CH4. The activity includes the growth of the investigated systems by physical synthesis methods (MBE or magnetron sputtering), the electronic and morphological characterization by surface science techniques (e.g. STM, XPS, UPS) and the use of synchrotron radiation based spectroscopies (e.g. XAS), also at ambient pressure conditions.
    Collaborations: Rita Magri, UNIMORE, Italy; Piero Torelli, CNR-IOM, Trieste, Italy; Annabella Selloni, Princeton University, USA.
    References & links
    J. Phys. Chem. C 123, 13702 (2019).
    Adv Mater Interfaces 7, 2000737 (2020).
    ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 12, 27682 (2020).https://www.iom.cnr.it/research-facilities/facilities-labs/large-scale-facilities/ape-high-energy/
  • Title: Structure and electronic properties of photoexcited states in metal/oxide nanostructures.
    Tutor: Paola Luches, Sergio D’Addato
    Abstract: The proposed activity will be focused on the study of charge excitations in functional oxide-based materials, also in combination with plasmonic nanoparticles. The goal is to obtain materials with increased visible light harvesting efficiency and with an optimized density of long-living excited states, to be applied as efficient photocatalysts. This aim will be achieved by addressing the dynamics of photoexcited states in systems with different composition and architecture using pump-probe methods. The work includes the growth of well controlled systems by physical synthesis and their investigation using ultrafast laser facilities and free electron lasers.
    Collaborations: Federico Boscherini (UniBO), Daniele Catone, Patrick O’Keeffe (CNR-ISM), Chris Milne (Eu-XFEL, Hamburg).
    References & links
    [1] J. S. Pelli Cresi et al., Nanoscale 11, 10282 (2019).
    [2] J. S. Pelli Cresi et al., J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 11, 5686 (2020).
    [3] J. S. Pelli Cresi et al., Nano Letters 21, 1729 (2021).
    http://efsl.ism.cnr.it/it/;
    https://www.xfel.eu/facility/instruments/fxe/index_eng.html
  • Title: Spectroscopic investigation of collective excitations and electronic properties in 2D materials.
    Tutor: Prof. Valentina De Renzi
    Abstract: 2D materials, as in particular graphene and transition metal chalcogenides, are currently subject of extensive investigations due to their huge potential applications in the field of nanoelectronics, photonics, sensing, and energy storage.
    This research project aims to experimentally investigating the electronic properties and the collective excitations of 2D materials, by means of surface science techniques. In particular, two types of systems will be considered: (i) supported and free-standing graphene, with particular regards to the modification of its dielectric and electronic properties upon alkaline doping; (ii) transition metal dichalcogenides, which represents a rich playground to investigate the onset of correlated electronic phases, as for instance the charge density waves and excitonic insulator (EI) phases. Extensive collaborations with both theoretical and experimental groups are envisaged, as well as experiments based on synchrotron radiation techniques.
    Collaborations: A. Ferretti and D. Prezzi (CNR - S3), E. Da Como (Univ. of Bath), C. Mariani and M.G. Betti (La Sapienza), D (Australia).
  • Title: Teaching Quantum Thinking: investigating effective methodologies to introduce quantum physics in secondary school curricula.
    Tutor: Prof. Valentina De Renzi
    Abstract: Quantum Mechanics (QM) is at the core of our understanding of natural phenomena, and at the basis of fundamental technological developments. In the last decades, with the deployment of quantum technologies, its relevance and influence has been extending from physics, chemistry and engineering, to biology, computer science and metrology.
    Despite its paramount importance, QM has not yet been truly assimilated as part of common culture, at variance with other most relevant scientific theories, such as evolution, genetics and Einstein’s relativity, due both to its mathematical complexity and to the counter- intuitive character of most of its rules and predictions.
    This thesis project aims to design and test an effective approach to introduce QM and QTs in secondary schools, capable of promoting a clear understanding of the fundamentals of QM, and bringing its paradigms (the concepts of quantum state, superposition, state-collapse and entanglement) closer to common scientific literacy [1,2,3]. To this aim, strict collaboration with educationalists (DESU, Unimore), as well as quantum scientists involved in educational projects in Italy (Italian Quantum Weeks project) [4] and abroad will be pursued.
    Collaborations: Chiara Bertolini and Enrico Giliberti (DESU, Unimore) Maria Bondani (CNR-INF Como), Marco Genoni and Andrea Smirne (Unimi) , Erica Andreotti (University Colleges Leuven-Limburg, Belgium).
    References:
    [1] G.C Ghirardi “Un’occhiata alle carte di Dio” Il Saggiatore, Milano 1997
    [2] PHYSICAL REVIEW PHYSICS EDUCATION RESEARCH 15, 010130
    [3] Education & Outreach - Quantum Technology https://qt.eu/about-quantum-flagship/
    [4] https://www.quantumweeks.it/
  • Title: Experimental study of triboelectricity at the macro/meso-scale.
    Tutor: Prof. Alberto Rota
    Abstract: Tribo-electricity (TE) is the phenomenon for which an electrical potential difference originates between two sliding bodies. This ensues from the contact electrification (CE) effect, by which charges transfer from one insulator to another during contact and remain there as the materials are separated. Rubbing of the two materials greatly enhances CE in a very unpredictable way, and sometimes leading to strong electro-static potentials. The TE effect is known to vary considerably depending on several working conditions, such as the number of scan cycles and temperature, and it increases with the interfacial pressure, often involving piezoelectric (PE) properties emerging in crystalline materials that possess non-centrosymmetry. Macroscale experiments provide the most direct way to address TE phenomena. Experimental activity mostly relies on monitoring CE and TE under different conditions, namely different load, sliding speed, working ambient. Curiously enough, friction forces are not always systematically monitored in the course of such experiments albeit being considered the main drivers of charge generation. Meso-macro-scale experiments will consist in pin/ball-on-disc tests at different load and velocity, to estimate CE, and to monitor in real time the generated TE and its correlation with the coefficient of friction (COF).
    The proposed activity is part of TRIEL PRIN project 2022. The activities of the projects include Theoretical (UniMI) and experimental activity at the nanoscale (CNR SPIN) of triboelectric phenomena.
    Collaborations: PRIN 2022 TRIEL, R. Guerra (UNIMI), A. Gerbi (CNR SPIN Genova).
    References: R. Horn et al., Science 256, 362 (1992).
  • Title: Friction at the nanoscale.
    Tutor: Prof. Alberto Rota
    Abstract: Friction, wear and adhesion properties of materials are strictly related to a number of chemical and physical processes occurring at their surfaces. In this context, the prosed activities are oriented to nanoscale phenomena, mainly explored by scanning probe microscopy (AFM-STM), and to macroscale ones, with the use of tribometers and chemical characterizations techniques. Projects actually running explore tribological processes of 2D lamellar structures, such as graphene and MXenes, from both fundamental and applied point view. The activities try to correlate nanometric properties of such materials to macroscale phenomena. These activities include the study of strain-friction correlation, generation of self-assembled nanostructures (nanoscrolls) and friction-induced chemical tribolayers.
    Collaborations:
    - The activity are part of the project MIUR-PRIN 2019-2022 “Understanding and Tuning FRiction through nanOstructure Manipulation” (UTFROM).
    - Prof. A, Rosenkranz, Universidad de Santiago de Chile
    References:
    - Small 2021, 17 (47), 2104487. https://doi.org/10.1002/smll.202104487.
    - Rota et al., Friction, https://doi.org/10.1007/s40544-022-0709-3
  • Title: In-Operando study of elementary mechanisms of (photo)-electrochemical devices for energy conversion and storage: fuel cells and electrolysers.
    Tutor: Prof. Roberto Biagi
    Abstract: The proposed activity is at the base of the technology development devoted to decarbonizing the energy production chain. Devices like batteries, fuel cells and electrolysers allow the energy conversion and storage of electrical energy at different timescales, mandatory for an efficient and delayed use of renewable energy sources, intermittent by nature. This is the new paradigm adopted all around the world. These devices are known from decades, however their characteristics at present do not totally fit the requirements for a massive use. Only recently it is possible to carry out X-ray absorption (XAS) *during* the device functioning, allowing the access to the microscopic details and to the understanding of the intimate mechanisms: the knowledge needed for performing targeted actions. The XAS measurements need to be performed at synchrotron labs, however most of the activity will be carried out on-campus, within a close-knit interdisciplinary group that embraces chemists of different backgrounds, experimental and theoretical-computational physicists and engineers.
    Collaborations: DSCG@UniMORE, ELETTRA Synchrotron, CNR-IOM
  • Title: Semiconductor nanowire components for classical and quantum circuitry.
    Tutor: Dr. F. Rossella
    Abstract: III-V semiconductor nanowires and nanowire heterostructures (core-multishell, quantum dots, superlattices) will be used as building blocks to engineer classical and quantum electronic nanodevices, with applications encompassing energy conversion and harvesting, sensing and information and communication technologies. Selected PhD candidates will master advanced nanofabrication techniques, electrical and thermal transport measurements, use of cryogenic systems and magnetic fields, microwave technologies and multiscale modeling (Comsol).
    Collaborations:
    Prof. Lucia Sorba, NEST, Scuola Normale Superiore and Istituto Nanoscienze-CNR (Pisa);
    Prof. Enrique Diez, Nanotechnology group, Salamanca University (Spain)References and links
    D. Prete, et al., Advanced Science 2023, 2204120
    S. Cornia, et al., Adv. Funct. Mater.2023, 33, 2212517
    L. Peri, et al., Nano Energy 103, 2022, 107700
    National PNRR project “Ecosistema per la transizione sostenibile in Emilia-Romagna” (https://ecosister.it/)
    National PNRR project "Centro Nazionale per la mobilità sostenibile"
    National INFN project “QUANtum Technology Experimental Platforms” (QUANTEP), [pdf]
  • Title: Exploring novel 2D electronics and twistronics.
    Tutor: Dr. F. Rossella
    Abstract: Candidates will develop electronic devices based on 2D materials and heterostructures for both classical or quantum applications. Novel devices architectures will be fabricated starting from graphene and other 2D materials (TMDs, h-BN, layered oxides and their heterostaks). Their unique functionalities of electrical and/or thermal transport will be investigated in transport experiments carried out in the T range from 400K to 250mK, also in magnetic fields, also applying microwaves. New physics and device functionalities will be unveiled by the combined use of top-quality 2D materials and heterostacks and advanced techniques for the doping and the gate-control of the engineered nanodevices.
    Collaborations:
    Dr. Camilla Coletti, CNI@NEST - Italian Institute of Technology (Pisa);
    Prof. Enrique Diez, Nanotechnology group, Salamanca University (Spain)
    References and links:
    L. Martini, et al., ()
    S. Pezzini, et al., 2D Materials 7, 041003 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1088/2053-1583/aba645
    S. Pezzini, et al., Nano. Lett. 2020, 20, 5, 3313–3319
    National PNRR project “Ecosistema per la transizione sostenibile in Emilia-Romagna” (https://ecosister.it/)
    National PNRR project “Centro Nazionale per la mobilità sostenibile” (Centro Nazionale per la mobilità sostenibile)
    National INFN project “QUANtum Technology Experimental Platforms” (QUANTEP), [pdf]
  • Title: Mechanobiology by in vitro cell stretching coupled with microfluidic approaches.
    Tutor: Prof. Andrea Alessandrini
    Abstract: Many cells in our tissues are continuously exposed to stretching stimuli and adjust their behaviour by homeostatic processes if these stimuli change. In this proposal, stretching devices will be developed in order to expose different cell types (cardiac fibroblasts, cells of the lung and other cells) to cyclic stretching stimuli coupled with shear stress produced by fluid flow in a microfluidic set-up. The devices will be characterized using FEA simulations and experimental investigations. In particular, the work will concentrate on the analysis of the homeostatic reaction of the traction force applied by cells to changing stimuli. To this aim, the Traction Force Microscopy technique will be implemented in the context of the stretching devices. At the same time, particular relevance will be given to the live-imaging of the mechanotrasduction processes from the substrate to the cell nucleus exploiting photolithographic approaches to introduce confined migration of the cells.
    Collaborations: Department of Life sciences Unimore, Eldor Lab (INBB Bologna).
    References:
    Annals of Biomedical Engineering 49 (9), 2243-2259, 2021
    The NF-Y splicing signature controls hybrid EMT and ECM-related pathways to promote aggressiveness of colon cancer, Cancer Letters, Rigillo G et al, accepted for publication, 2023
  • Title: Design of micro- and nanopatterned conductive substrates for cell guidance driven by multiple stimuli.
    Tutor: Dr. Michele Bianchi
    Abstract: Multiscale patterned materials can be exploited to gain insights into biophysical processes that are still poorly understood at the cellular and sub-cellular levels but play a key role in many physiological and pathological conditions. In this proposal, micro- and nanoscale patterned polymer substrates will be fabricated by different techniques, including soft lithography, photolithography and 3D printing. Conductive polymer blends will be obtained by the addition of highly conductive 2D materials, including MXenes and CNTs. Multiscale patterned materials endowed with both electrical and topographical cues will be used to study cell-material interaction, migration and differentiation under environmental conditions that better mimic biological ones. A full range of morphological/chemical/physical/electrical characterizations (including AFM, SEM, TEM, microRaman, contact angle, FTIR, impedance spectroscopy) and biological assays will be carried out, also in collaboration with partners. Collaborations: Maurizio Prato (CIC-Biomagune, Spain), Leeya Engel (Technion Institute of Technology, Israel), Silvia Panseri (ISTEC CNR, Italy), Carol Imbriano (UNIMORE, Italy).
    References & links:
    -Lunghi A et al. Advanced Materials Interfaces 2022, 9 (25), 2200709.
    -Bianchi M. et al. Advanced Science 2022, e2104701
  • Title: Noncovalent intermolecular interactions for specific recognition of perfluorinated molecules in water.
    Tutor: Prof. Fabio Biscarini
    Abstract: Poly- and PerFluoroAlkyl Substances (PFAS) in water pose an environmental problem of uttermost urgency. In-field deployable sensors for ambient or in-line monitoring treatments of wastewater, leachates from solid waste, or gas emissions, are missing and needed. This thesis will focus on the identification of PFAS at ultra-low concentrations in water by exploiting the fluorous-fluorous interaction and the dynamic aggregation behaviour in water from single dissolved molecules to micelles. The Evolvable PFAS Sensor (EPS) relies on surface-bound nanosized aggregates of PFAS as the recognition elements of PFAS. These will be grown by patterning nuclei in Self Assembly Monolayers and exposing EPS to spiked PFAS solutions. The EPS bound aggregates will incorporate PFAS molecules or aggregates from solution to lower the size-dependent electrochemical potential. The project will demonstrate a specific sensor at all lengthscales in field deployed in real freshwater samples.
    Collaborations:
    Università di Bologna (Francesco Zerbetto);
    Politecnico di Milano (Pierangelo Metrangolo).
  • Title: The Physics of Reduced Graphene Oxide Electrolyte-Gated Transistor (rGO-EGT) sensors.
    Tutor: Prof. Fabio Biscarini
    Abstract: Electrolyte-gated transistors EGTs based on reduced graphene oxide rGO were demonstrated as ultra-sensitive and highly specific biosensors and immunosensors. The aim of the thesis is to explain how biorecognition at the gate electrode functionalized with specific recognition groups towards the target analyte affects the peculiar physical properties of rGO and how then is transduced into large current variation. Based on the analysis of the electrochemical potential profile across the working device, we derive a theory that describes the transfer curve as a function of the concentration. The multiparametric analysis of rGO-EGT ambipolar response explains that the effects of recognition events on charge carrier density is mostly due to the influence of concentration of charge neutrality point and interfacial capacitance, whereas charge carrier mobilities, transconductance and transfer curve curvature are independent of concentration.
    Collaborations:
    Université de Strasbourg (Paolo Samorì);
    LNano-CNN Brazil (Rafael Furlan do Oliveira).
  • Title: Spin-dependent electrochemistry.
    Tutor: Prof. Claudio Fontanesi
    Abstract: The charge transmission in chiral systems is spin selective, referred as “chiral-induced spin selectivity” (CISS) effect [1], an area of growing interest in science (“… a very intriguing phenomenon which has been attracting enormous attention in recent years …” from the report of an unknown reviewer). The implementation of the CISS effect in electrochemistry led to the development of the so-called spin-dependent electrochemistry (SDE): measurements are carried out in an electrochemical system where spin-injection and spin-polarized currents are controlled by using ferromagnetic electrodes.[2,3] SDE is an effective paradigm in addressing the influence of spin in the charge transmission mechanism at the electrode/solution interface. In my group recently the attention is focussed on the physics underlying the chiral-recognition/enantio-selectivity and chiral-induction processes (beyond the key & lock picture).[4,5]
    Collaborations: Prof. Ron Naaman, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. Prof. Massimo Innocenti, Dept of Chemistry, UniFI. Prof. Jana Kalbáčová Vejpravová, Department of Condensed Matter Physics, Charles Univ., Prague, Czech Republic Prof. Narcis Avarvari, Dept. of Chemistry, Angers, FR.
    References:
    [1] https://doi.org/10.1126/science.283.5403.814.
    [2] https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coelec.2017.09.028.
    [3] https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.accounts.6b00446.
    [4] https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.201911400.
    [5] https://doi.org/10.1002/smtd.202070038.
  • Title: Transparent conductive oxide films and nanostructures for plasmonic applications.
    Tutor: Sergio D’Addato; Stefania Benedetti, Alessandro di Bona, (CNR NANO)
    Abstract: Recently a new class of materials, i.e. transparent conductive oxides (TCO), has been extensively explored for plasmonic applications in fields like optoelectronics and gas sensing for greenhouse gasses, to substitute noble metals, which are expensive and hard to integrate in CMOS devices. TCOs combine a low resistivity and a high transparency with a plasmon resonance that can be tuned from the VIS to mid-IR range. The proposed activity aims at the growth of Al:ZnO (or similar plasmonic compounds) by reactive sputter deposition and its nanofabrication in simple devices by electron beam or optical lithography. We aim to study the structural, optical and electronic properties by tuning the doping (either passively or actively through applied bias) and the crystalline order towards amorphous films. The systems will be analyzed by means of several state-of-the-art techniques (XPS, SEM, XRD, Hall, transport, AFM, optical spectrophotometry), present at the Physics Department in collaboration with CNR-NANO, and with other Italian and international teams and at large scale facilities, in strong connection with theoretical collaborators.
    Collaborations: F. Bisio (CNR SPIN Genova), P. Torelli and G. Pierantozzi (CNR IOM and NFFA Trieste), A. Calzolari (CNR NANO), M. Ortolani (Univ. La Sapienza Roma), F. Scotognella (Politecnico Milano).
    References:
    ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 15, 3112–3118 (2023)
    Appl. Surf. Sci 624, 157133 (2023)
    Small 17, 2100050 (2021)
    Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 19, 29364 – 29371 (2017)
  • Title: Mechanobiology of multicellular aggregates.
    Tutor: Prof. Andrea Alessandrini
    Abstract: Studies of cell behaviour using in-vitro models could produce misleading results when they are translated to in-vivo systems due to non-physiological conditions for the cell culture environment. In order to improve the similarity to in vivo systems, multicellular spheroids appear as a very promising model system, especially to reproduce the microenvironment of tumor cells. In this thesis project we aim to study the mechanobiology of multicellular spheroids (e.g. glioblastoma multiforme) using Traction Force Microscopy of aggregates embedded in different extracellular matrices. We will exploit advanced optical microscopy techniques such as light sheet (fluorescence) and two-photon microscopy which enables 3D imaging analysis. Specific set-ups to allow imaging inside the 3D spheroid will be developed. At the same time, the mechanical properties of spheroids will be characterized using the micropipette aspiration technique (coupled with light sheet microscopy) and by analysing the spreading properties and the corresponding spheroid surface tension.
    Department of Life sciences Unimore, Dept of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Sciences, Center for Neuroscience and Neurotechnologies, Unimore.
    References: The NF-Y splicing signature controls hybrid EMT and ECM-related pathways to promote aggressiveness of colon cancer, Cancer Letters, Rigillo G et al, Cancer Lett, 2023, 567, 216262. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.canlet.2023.216262.