The Peer review has evaluated this group as Average
Research is focused on the study of polymeric materials and polymer-based composites including nano-composites. The research activities are aimed at a fundamental understanding of the chemical, physical and mechanical behaviour of the materials in relation to their structure and modelling of structure-to-properties relationships in order to exploit the properties of existing materials for innovative applications and develop new ones with enhanced functional and/or structural performances. Main research themes are: - Synthesis and modification of polymers for specific functional applications - Microstructural characterization of polymer blends and polymer composites, including nano-composites. - Time-dependent deformation, yield and fracture behaviour of polymers and composites - Ultimate properties of elastomeric materials - Development of new polymeric platforms for biotechnological applications - Development of high performance fluoropolymers - Development of non standard testing methods - Characterization of polymer surfaces and developments in coating technology - Innovation in textile technology and applications - Development of new materials and components for Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC) - Environmental impact assessment and sustainability (Life Cycle Analysis) of polymeric products and industrial polymer processes Future trends The main new research lines in which the group has recently invested resources and scientific effort are: polymer surface characterisation and modification, innovation in textile technology, development of polymeric platforms for biotech applications, and development of new proton conducting polymer membranes. Polymer surface characterisation and modification As a matter of fact, surface properties, in particular friction and wear, have been scarcely studied in polymers so far, while the industrial interest is growing in view of a variety of technical applications. The group has just been funded by a Company for conducting fundamental and applied research with the provision of the necessary equipment (a microscratch tester and a tribometer). This research line will parallel one on organic coatings (specially based on fluoropolymers) and development of nanostructured surfaces to obtain improved water repellency, soil release effect and abrasion resistance. Innovation in textile technology A separate research effort will be dedicated to assist the textile industry. The textile industry in Italy has in recent years felt a strong need for innovation in both production technology and applications, both functional and technical. The group is getting industrial and public funding providing new research equipment. The main research issues will be the development of new textile materials from renewable resources, and the study of chemical as well as physical processes (sol-gel technology, cyclodextrine grafting, plasma treatments) to optimize both comfort (hand, pilling resistance) and functional characteristics (antimicrobial, therapeutics) of the textile product. Polymeric platforms for biotech applications Another important area of research will be the development of polymer based materials to be used in the field of biotechnology and advanced diagnostics. Examples are the synthesis and applications of new copolymers to be used as immobilization agents in DNA microarray technology Dipartimento di Chimica, Materiali e Ingegneria Chimica “Giulio Natta” – Research Assessment Excercise 2003-2006 88 and proteomics, and the development of nanofabrication techniques such as dip-pen nanolithography, with the assistance of an atomic force microscope, allowing the manipulation of proteins and oligonucleotides at a nanometric scale. Proton conducting polymer membranes In the field of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC), although research studies are currently being conducted worldwide, and the first industrial devices are just being commercialised, many scientific and technical issues are still to be solved. In recent years, the group has been developing skill and instrumental facilities to characterize materials and components for PEM and, more recently, a collaboration with an industrial partner has been established.
Francesco Briatico Vangosa