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Serena Silvi

Associate Professor

Department of Chemistry "Giacomo Ciamician"

Academic discipline: CHIM/03 General and Inorganic Chemistry


Keywords: photochemistry molecular machine electrochemistry supramolecular chemistry logic gates

The research activity of Serena Silvi consists in the photochemical and electrochemical study of complex molecular and supramolecular systems.

The main investigated systems are:

- pseudorotaxanes, rotaxanes and catenanes, as prototypes of artificial molecular machines

- photochromic systems (like azobenzene and spiropyrans)

- metal complexes

- inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals

These systems are characterized in their basic physicochemical properties, and then they are exploited as molecular components for artificial molecular machines or systems for information processing.

The scientific activity of Serena Silvi concerns the design and the photophysical, photochemical and electrochemical study of molecular and supramolecular complex systems, which can perform useful functions. Three main research subjects can be identified:


1. Artificial molecular machines

This research theme consists in the design and characterization of supramolecular systems, like rotaxanes, catenanes and related species, whose molecular components can perform rotary or linear movements, upon appropriate external stimuli. The aim of this research is obtaining potentially useful functions from the operation of these machines: for example the insertion into systems like the liposomes allow the study of their effect on the stability of the membranes; in addition it is possible to design machines capable of catching and releasing other molecular species, or capable of performing a mechanical work, which can be amplified from the molecular to the macroscopic level.


2. Systems for information processing

This research theme consists in the design and characterization of molecular and supramolecular systems capable of gathering, storing and processing information. The investigated molecular species are able, for example to perform the function of molecular logic gates. The “bottom-up” approach to the miniaturization could be useful not only to reduce the dimension of the components and improve the performances of computers, but also to develop new technologies and materials.


3. Organic-inorganic hybrid systems based on semiconductor nanocrystals

Inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals (quantum dots) are materials with interesting photophysical properties, like a large molar absorption coefficient in a wide range and a narrow and intense luminescence, whose energy can be tuned with the dimensions of the nanocrystal. Quantum dots can be functionalized on their surface with organic ligands, which can give electron or energy transfer processes with the nanocrystals. Investigation of these processes is important not only for the comprehension of the photophysics of these complex systems, but also to design functional materials, in which the interaction between inorganic nanocrystals and organic molecules can be exploited to obtain advanced sensing functions.

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