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Prof. Andrea Pucci

Title of the PhD project:
Functional supramolecular polymers for self-diagnostic composites

Abstract of the PhD project:
The project aims at introducing self-diagnostic proprieties into polymers and carbon fibre reinforced composites materials via molecular recognition. The goal is to produce fluorescence signals directly linked to the stress-driven braking of the weak bond in host-guest complexes, leading to the visualization of emerging mechanical stress in the polymer matrix of the composite. The next challenge is to provide enabling technologies to transform polymers into smart materials.
The molecular recognition is based on supramolecular interaction between cross-linking and complementary host-guest units embedded in the polymeric chains. The guests are selected luminophores, which are quenched in the complex and fluorescent in the free form. The hosts are calixarenes, cavitands and cucurbiturils, whose molecular recognition properties are well defined and predictable.
The implementation of the project requires: specific, resilient and stimuli responsive host-guest systems; their insertion into polymers as weak cross-linking units (by grafting or co-polymerization); a molecular level understanding of number, distribution and connectivity of the host-guest interactions in the polymer matrix; testing protocols for the resulting fluorescence self-diagnostic properties.
The approach selected is a fluorescence OFF-ON switch based on the quenching of the complexed form with respect to the bright of the free form. The selected guests are tetraphenyl ethylene (TPE) or other aggregation-induced luminophores derivatives, functionalized with pyridinium units for complexation and terminal amino or hydroxy groups for polymerization or functionalization with preformed functional polymers. The fluorescence emission of related methyl pyridinium functionalized TPE unit is quenched upon complexation by macrocycles. The fluorescence properties of the resulting materials with embedded host-guest complexes will be tested before and after mechanical stretching
Polystyrene (PS) and polybutylmethacrylate (PBMA) have been selected as thermoplastic materials, whereas polyurethanes (PU) and epoxy resins (EP) as thermoset polymers. Furthermore, carbon fiber reinforced composites materials based on polyurethanes (CF-PU) and epoxy resins (CF-EP) have been selected and investigated in a second stage of the project.


Oral communications at conferences:

Poster communications at conferences:
- C. Micheletti, R. Volpi, A. Cesari, F. Balzano, I. Desideri, G. U. Barretta, “NMR spectroscopy investigation on chemotherapeutic active ingredient”, international conference on Innovative Research in Pharmaceutical and Environmental Sciences (IRPES 2019), November 27 2019, Pisa (Italy).
- C. Micheletti, A. Cesari, A. Recchimurzo, I. Desideri, F. Balzano, G. Uccello Barretta, “NMR study of stability of Mitomycin-C formulations for ocular applications in the storage conditions Chemistry For the Future 2019”, international conference (CFF 2019), July 3-5 2019, Pisa (Italy).
- C. Micheletti, A. Cesari, F. Balzano, G. Uccello Barretta, “Thiourea derivatives of amino alcohols: efficient chiral solvating agents for the differentiation of derivatives of amino acids by NMR spectroscopy”, Chemistry For the Future 2019”, international conference (CFF 2019), July 3-5 2019, Pisa (Italy).
- C. Micheletti, R. Volpi, A. Cesari, F. Balzano, I. Desideri, G. Uccello Barretta “protective role of cyclodextrins against hydrolytic decomposition of bendamustine hydrochloride: an NMR investigation”, IV international summer school on cyclodextrins, June 10-12 2019, Milan (Italy).

Other achievements: