Foto del docente

Luca Prodi

Full Professor

Department of Chemistry "Giacomo Ciamician"

Academic discipline: CHIM/03 General and Inorganic Chemistry

Coordinator of PhD Programme in Chemistry


Keywords: Diagnostics Imaging Fluorescence Metal Complexes Labels Luminescence nanoparticles Chemosensors Nanotechnology

He started his research activity with the study of photophysical and photochemical properties of supramolecular systems, and in particular of host-guest systems, catenanes, rotaxanes and molecular machines. Moreover his attentions was devoted to the study of energy and electron transfer processes in polichromophoric systems, in particular containing porphyrinic macrocyles.

In the following years he started a very lively research activity to design, synthesize and characterize new luminescent chemosensors and labels for applications in the fields of biological, environmental and alimentary analysis. In this framework he has lately started to prepare and study metal and silica nanoparticles to fully exploit the great analytical potentialities offered by organized systems containing a large number of dyes.

During his research studies in the first years of his career he gained a great expertise in photophysical and photochemical processes rising in complex supramolecular systems, dealing with host-guest systems, catenanes, rotaxanes and molecular machines. This know-how took him, in these last years to devote all his attention to two very intriguing research fields: luminescent sensing and photo-active nanoparticles and nanomaterials in general, for environmental and medical applications.


Luminescent chemosensors: the development of chemical sensors is dramatically changing the potentialities of chemical analysis. Among the different chemical sensors, fluorescence-based ones present many advantages: fluorescence measurements are usually very sensitive, of low cost, easily performed, and versatile, offering submicrometer spatial resolution and submillisecond temporal resolution. A very fruitful approach that he is following for the design of new efficient chemical sensors is based on the principles of supramolecular chemistry. The supramolecular approach typically entails the synthesis of molecules or supramolecules, conventionally referred to as chemosensors, containing a receptor unit and a so called “active unit”, that is able to signal the interaction receptor-analyte with a significant change of one of its chemical physical properties. He has developed many fluorescent chemosensors for anions and metal ions both for biological and environmental applications. Many of these species have also been derivatized to be efficiently immobilized on surfaces (films on glass, gold, quartz, etc.) or nanoparticles (metal and silica). This allows to exploit the sensing ability of these species in continuous and also for targets in the gas phase.


Photo-active Nanoparticles: nanoparticles have found many industrial employments in a wide range of fields such as electronics, optoelectronic, biomedical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, catalytic, and materials areas, in products such as chemical-mechanical polishing, magnetic recording tapes, sunscreens, automotive products, catalyst supports, biolabels, electroconductive coatings, and optical fibres. In particular, his research in the field of photoactive nanoparticles aims to the development of innovative nanosystems for biological imaging, medical diagnostics, and therapeutics. In this context, he has developed a wide expertise in the synthesis and photophysical characterization of metal (gold, and silver) and silica (also core-shell and multilayered) nanoparticles functionalized with suitable dyes, as labels for applications in the field of molecular biology. Particularly new and interesting are the ‘mixed' nanoparticles, i.e., with a metal core and a silica shell, functionalized with luminescent moieties at different and selected distances from the core, or with a silica dye doped core and a surfactant biocompatible shell. The study of chemosensors based on nanoparticles, with the possibility to obtain great signal amplification effects, is yielding extremely interesting results in the applications of these systems in medical diagnosis, analytical multiplex imaging techniques and in general their exploitation in biological imaging both ‘ex-vivo' and ‘in-vivo'.


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