My main research interests are the design, synthesis, characterization, self-assembly and applications of π-conjugated molecular architectures for solar energy conversion and the development of novel photochemical reactions.
Work at Cardiff and Trieste
In late 2018, I moved to Northwestern University (USA), where I am currently a postdoctoral research associate funded by the U.S. Department of Energy within a fellowship at the Center for Bio-inspired Energy Sciences. My new line of research here has focused on novel supramolecular systems for photocatalysis and developing new photocatalytic reactions (Nature Chemistry 2022, 14, 1007; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 3127; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 8000; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2021, 143, 18131). My work on photocatalytic systems was highly ranked by the Lincean Academy and, as a result I was awarded the "2020 Stanislao Cannizzaro International Prize in Chemistry and Physical Chemistry". More recently, my work and future vision on photocatalysis were highly ranked by independent and international peer review groups, and as a result I was selected as the "2021 Dream Chemistry Award Top 5" and "2022 European Young Chemists' Award Finalist".
During my postdoc at the Universities of Trieste (IT) and Cardiff (UK), I initiated new lines of inquiry through the preparation and characterization of novel heteroatom-doped molecules and nanomaterials. I prepared oxygen-doped polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, investigated their optoelectronic and redox properties, and prepared mixed valence conductive crystals (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2020, 59, 4106; Org. Lett. 2020, 22, 4283). This work was part of Prof. Davide Bonifazi's ERC Starting Grant ("COLORLANDS").
During this period, I also prepared nitrogen-doped carbon-based dots and investigated ways to tune their properties (Nat. Nanotechol. 2022, 17, 112-130; Nat. Protoc. 2019, 14; 2931; Adv. Sci. 2021, 2100125) . For example, I prepared nanoparticles that could be used as templates for formation of chiral supramolecular polymers (Nat. Commun. 2018, 9 (1), 3442) or to arrange multichromophoric arrays (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2020, 59, 12779; Mater. Chem. Front. 2020, 4, 3640). This work was also the basis of the ERC Advanced Grant awarded to Prof. Prato in 2019 ("e-DOTS"). Moreover, my work on heteroatom-doped carbon nanoparticles was highly ranked in terms of scientific quality and as a result I was awarded the prestigious 2018 Primo Levi Award and the "2020 Giacomo Ciamician medal" (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2021, 60 (1), 313). During this period, I also supervised a PhD student, whose work was recognized as main author in Angewantde Chemie and Nature Communications articles.
In 2016 I obtained my PhD degree in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies, under the supervision of Prof. Davide Bonifazi. My PhD research work has innovatively contributed to (nano)structuration of organic nanomaterials in solution and surfaces (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 8150–8160; Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2016, 18, 11858–1186). I proposed, developed, and demonstrated new methods for transferring precise supramolecular nanostructures from solutions to surfaces based on organic and supramolecular chemistries. My research work has successfully demonstrated that bottom-up nano-structuration approach is an alternative to conventional top-down methods. As a result of this work, I received the 2017 CINMPIS award for best PhD dissertation (IT). During my PhD, I also spent one year as visiting scholar at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (USA), and my work there has led to one research article and two patents.
None of the research described here would have been possible without supportive collaborators, colleagues and advisors. Highlighted below are, in particular, some collaborations:
Supramolecular chemistry - Prof. Fraser Stoddart (NU)
Photochemistry - Prof. Emily Weiss (NU)
Photophysics - Prof. Dirk Guldi (FAU) and Prof. Alejandro Cadranel (FAU, UBA)
X-ray scattering - Dr. Steven Weigand (Argonne National Labs) and Dr. Heinz Amenitsch (Elettra Synchrotron)
Single X-ray determination - Dr. Nicola Demitri (Elettra Synchrotron) and Dr. Charlotte Stern (NU)
Surface chemistry and imaging - Prof. Willi Auwärter (TUM), Prof. Giovanni Costantini (Warwick) and Prof. David Ecija (IMDEA)