The Peer review has evaluated this group as Excellent
The physics and chemistry of “soft” matter deals with materials displaying a structural organization on a supra-molecular scale, such as polymers, calixarene ligands, surfactant aggregates, nanoparticle dispersions, emulsions, gels. The research activity of the lab is focused on the synthesis of these materials and on their characterization in terms of structural, dynamical, interfacial, and transport properties. Particular emphasis is also given to the physics of soft matter in nonequilibrium conditions and to the chemistry of radiation damage effects in macromolecular systems (polymers and solutions of supra-molecular ligands). The group operation can be splitted into two mainstream spheres of activity. The first one is set in the context of the applications of optical methods and laser spectroscopy techniques to condensed matter physics, with particular regard to the study of the structural properties, the microscopic dynamics, and the phase transitions of “soft” materials and complex fluids. The specific topics that have recently been addressed may be summarized as follows. i. Physical properties of spontaneous aggregates of surfactant molecules; ii. Equations of state and phase transitions in complex fluids. iii. iii) Dynamics of colloidal suspensions. iv. Emulsification and gelation in systems of interest for the oil industry. v. Thermophoresis (diffusion induced by thermal gradients) in disperse particle systems vi. Protein association effects related to amyloid pathologies or induced by bacterial agents. vii. Magnetic separation of spontaneously emulsified systems. viii. Molecular recognition processes in solutions of amphiphilic molecules functionalized with nucleoside head groups. The second mainstream activity is devoted to the study of Positron and Positronium Chemistry. In particular the detection of annihilation radiation by means of time spectrometry (Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectrometry – PALS) and Doppler Spectrometry (Doppler Broadening Annihilation Radiation Lineshape Spectrometry-DBARLS) suitably set up enables to achieve original scientific results concerning the structural information both at sub-atomic and nanometric (molecular and supramolecular) scale, showing the peculiarity of positronium as a probe to investigate solid systems or solutions. Furthermore, investigation in the field of the Radiation Damage on polymers and supra-molecular ligands are performed. In particular, the identification of the mechanisms of formation of radiolytic species during g-irradiation is carried out, followed by investigations on the correlation between the radio-induced modifications in polymers and their macroscopic properties (viscosity, electric conductivity etc.). Similar studies are performed on supra-molecular ligands used for the Partitioning of Minor Actinides from Lanthanides.