46332 - Nanobiotechnology

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Molecular and industrial biotechnology (cod. 9213)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the class, the student has a general knowldege of nanotechnology and its applications in the industry. He is aware of the application of nanostructures and bionanostructures in different fields. He has knowledge of nanobiotechnological characterization techniques for biological macromolecules (including ultramicroscopy and single-molecule techniques) and knows how to choose amongst them. S/he knows how to design, realize and characterize different strategies of self-assembly. S/he knows how to exploit the nanoscale properties of nucleic acids and how to prepare nanoparticles and derivatize them with biological molecules.

Course contents

Introduction to nanotechnologies. Organization of the class. Test for the assessment of class awareness. Intro to class topics: the nanoscale, structure in the nanoscale, nanofabrication and nanoassembly, characterization in the nanoscale, applications in nanomedicine (4-6 hours).

Self-assembly and nanoparticles and the characterization of nanoparticles (2 hours). Basic concepts. Physics and chemistry of molecular self-assembly. Examples from chemistry, examples from biological macromolecules. Nanoparticles: general principles, differences of particles amongst the different scales, applications. Nanosystems and food. (4 hours).

Characterization techniques for nanotechnologies. Optical techniques (fluorescence and plasmonic resonance). Examples in bioanalytics and diagnostics. Single-molecule fluorescence (6 hours).

Optical and electron microscopy in the nanoscale. Fluorescence and confocal microscopy. Superresolution techniues. Image reconstruction. Electron microscopy and cryoelectron microscopy (6 hours).

Probe microscopies. Principles of STM and AFM. Forces in chemistry and biology and their use. Magnetic and optical tweezers. Nanopores for studying biological molecules and sequeng (6 hours).

DNA nanotechnology (8 hours)

 Nucleic acids and DNA nanotechnologies. Revival on the chemistry and structures of nucleic acids. Nucleic acids analogues. Characterization techniques for nucleic acids. Aptamers and nanomedicine applications. Self-assembly of nucleic acids. Structural DNA nanotechnology. (8 hours)

Experimental Design and microfluidics (4 hours or less): If lecture timings will allow, we will cover some notions on (statistical) experimental design with examples on (nano)biotech. Additionally and depending on students' interest I will present some concepts in microfludics and lab-on-chip. 


Practical Lab.

Use of freeware software for rational design of nanostructures (4 hours). Preparation of nanoparticles and their derivatization with biological molecules (4 hours). Preparation of DNA nanostructures, if possible following the students' design (3 hours).

Characterization of prepared or provided nanostructures  (5 hours).


Scientific scholarly papers will be made available, used and discussed in class. There is not a single textbook for the class, but some will be listed for personal reference, if needed. Slides will be made available.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons and lab. Lectures delivered by guests from other universities will be available as recorded contributions or in streaming. Discussion of lab results and guided writing of a lab report.

Assessment methods

Multiple-choice tests will be offered to assess the learning advancements.

Students will have to submit a lab report according to agreed upon procedures.

The final exam is constituted of an oral discussion of the lab report and of the related lectures' and papers' contents.

Teaching tools

Class lectures. Guest lectures (recorded or live). Class website. Lecture slides and selected scientific papers. Web links and online materials for independent study and self-assessment tests.  

Office hours

See the website of Giampaolo Zuccheri


Good health and well-being

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.