Foto del docente

Michelina Soccio

Senior assistant professor (fixed-term)

Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental, and Materials Engineering

Academic discipline: CHIM/07 Principles of Chemistry for Applied Technologies


Keywords: Polyesters Novel S-S containing polyesters Polymers synthesis Copolymerization Solid state properties in polymers Crystallization kinetics Biomaterials Polymer nanostructuring Nanocomposites

- Novel polymers for biomedical applications.

The systems realized in this field must comply with standards, above all biocompatibility and biodegradability. The research activity focuses on two fundamental aspects of biomedical engineering: 1) tissue engineering, 2) controlled drug release. Tissue engineering. To the efforts for the development of an ever greater variety of engineered constructs, we have to consider the functional and mechanical qualities that have to fulfill the functions and satisfy the aims pursued: first of all overcoming the limits of conventional organ transplant treatments and prosthetic implant. With this in mind, it should be mentioned, for example, that the elasticity of the matrix affects cell differentiation. Controlled drug release. The use of polymeric systems allows the drug to be distributed to precise sites of activity within the body. Given the high number of variables, including the type of drug, the amount to be administered, the site of action, the duration of therapy, the stability of the active molecules, etc., it is necessary that the controlled release systems provide a very wide field of use: so, polymers or copolymers with "ad hoc" properties are once again the winning strategy to overcome the problems associated with this specific technology.

- Eco-friendly polymers for food packaging applications, sustainable building and coating.

The main purpose of this line of research consists in the synthesis and characterization of new polymers and copolymers that offer guarantees of complete biodegradability and have chemico-physical characteristics suitable for the desired purposes. The goal is to find fundamental property-structure relationships in the design of materials tailored to a given application. For example, as regards the field of food-packaging, biodegradable or green food packaging must possess different basic requirements; among them barrier properties, optical features, good mechanical response, ease of disposal, antistatic properties stand out and these materials must be safe for the food they come into contact with.

- Molecular dynamics and crystallization kinetics of polymers and copolymers.

As known, the molecular motions that take place in the amorphous phase are strongly affected by the glass transition temperature as well as by the degree of crystallinity of the sample. These constraints greatly influence the energy dissipation mechanism. Consequently, physical properties of considerable importance, such as strength and mechanical stability, are dependent on the mobility of the amorphous phase and on the nature of the crystalline one.

Furthermore, as well known from literature, the morphological structure markedly influences the properties of a material. It follows that the study of the phenomenon of crystallization represents an interesting and fundamental research field for the optimization of the working process conditions and for obtaining a product with certain properties. The research involves studies of melt crystallization kinetics under both isothermal and non-isothermal conditions, both by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and optical microscopy (MO). The kinetics of isothermal crystallization is studied using the theoretical treatment developed by Avrami, by which it is possible to calculate the global kinetic constant of the crystallization process. The data relating to the crystallization process in non-isothermal conditions are instead analyzed using the Tobin and Ozawa equations. The crystallization process is also studied using equipment located at other Research Facilities including: X-ray diffractometry (XRD), Atomic Force microscopy (AFM), Dielectric Spectroscopy (DS).

Furthermore, dielectric spectroscopy allowed to carry out a profound study of the complex processes of both local and segmental relaxation of polymeric systems, which are at the origin of the functional properties.

- Preparation and characterization of "Eco-friendly composites and nanocomposites" for food packaging and biomedical applications.

In the field of nanocomposite materials research has focused on the preparation of materials based on poly(butylene succinate) (PBS), one of the most important biopolyesters. Currently the application of this polyester is limited due to the high costs and too stiff mechanical response. To solve these issues composite and nanocomposites have been prepared. Excellent results in terms of adhesion at the interface and mechanical properties were obtained towards the realisation of fully bio-based material.

- Synthesis and characterization of novel S-S containing polyesters.

- Synthesis and characterization of bio-based polyureas.

In this area of research, the focus is on the green synthesis of bio-polyureas, through the use of primary bio-diamines and organic carbonates. The reaction conditions allow to avoid the use of toxic isocyanates. The process, in addition to being carried out in milder conditions, allows to optimize both the reaction yield and the recovery percentage of the products which can then be reused in the perspective of a circular economy.

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