Air and water sensors:
Polymer planar photonic crystals are engineered to gather the label-free detection of pollutants. These sensors are able to overcome the limitations of current technologies and to provide a tool for the assessment of air and water quality.
Label-free selectivity is achieved exploiting the different kinetics of analytes intercalation within the polymers, which is ruled by polymer-analyte chemico-physical interactions (FLORY-HUGGINS PARAMETERS). Such kinetics allow to disentangle the analytes without chemical labels.
These sensors find applications in industrial and environmental monitoring and in food packaging.
Molecular diffusion in thin films:
Simple UV-Vis optical spectroscopy allows monitoring the diffusion of small molecules in polymer thin films. The kinetics of the optical response during sorption/desorption processes allows a new method for the assessment molecular diffusion coefficients in thin films by on both polymer and porous inorganic matrices. Recent work, demonstrated that the method can be applied also to commercial thin film used in food packaging systems.
Historically Inorganic photonic structures have been employed for the control of light to achieve emission enhancement, lasing, optical switchers and even photon recycling in photovoltaic devices. While inorganics provides outstanding performances owing to high dielectric contrast, they require costly and time-consuming fabrications. This research path aims to demonstrate that solution processable polymers and hybrid materials can replace inorganic media in the field. To this aim, several commercial and synthetic polymers were employed demonstrating that polymer structures are suitable for emission enhancement and lasing for inorganic nanocrystals, J-aggregates, and even perovskite emitters.
Chemical processes and syntheses:
Engineering new polymeric structures often requires materials that are not available commercially.
To this end, several active media where engineered and/or synthesized ad-hoc, and their processability was investigated. A large work has been performed on the synthesis of inorganic nanoparticles and on their compatibilization with polymers to fabricate optical nanocomposite thin films with controllable permeability and refractive index and on the solution processing of fully-inorganic structures. Similarly, low-refractive index perfluorinated polymers were compatibilized with the fabrication of photonic structures.