iit-cbn-logo-v3

Cell-electrodes coupling

Three-dimensional nanostructures for improved sensing of neuronal signal

Cell-electrodes coupling

Monitoring the electrical activity of neurons is considered the fundamental way to understand how information is encoded and handled in the brain. Metallic microelectrodes are still the most employed methods to detect neuron signals in-vivo, although low signal quality is observed due to poor extracellular coupling.

Techniques able to collect quasi-intracellular signal while keeping the electrode external to the cell are being developed to improve sensitivity to action potentials and sub-threshold events. Three-dimensional metallic nanostructures mimicking dendritic spines are prone to be naturally engulfed by invertebrate neurons, which tightly seal to them thus improving the external coupling between membrane and electrode.

Bioinspired artificial hair cell for liquid flow sensing

Bioinspired artificial hair cell for liquid flow sensing
Sensory systems in nature, such as flow sensors, vision sensors, acoustic sensor, etc. are characterized by extreme efficiency, small size, high sensitivity and high throughput, by far exceeding the performance of man-made sensors. In numerous biological species, hair-likestructures and cells provide flow sensory functions. In fish these structures are called lateral line neuromasts which consist of up to several hundreds or even thousands of mechanosensitive hair cells, enveloped in a gelatinous cupula and placed along the fish body.We studied an innovative biomimetic stress-driven micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) for underwater applications whose technological development is based on a silicon-based bilayer design as an Artificial Hair Cell (AHC). Waterproofing is then achieved by parylene conformal coating for underwater operation.

Soft Tactile Technologies

Soft Tactile Technologies

The importance of the sense of touch as a mean of knowledge is boosting the research towards the development of devices able to collect information on parameters such as as texture, roughness, shape, stiffness in reconfigurable mode. Soft materials and technologies can enhance the effectiveness of tactile perception. To this aim matrices of soft magnetic microactuators are under development by exploiting magnetic elastomeric membranes, actuated by underlying MEMS microcoils and based on new materials, in order to enhance the generation of magnetic field gradients. These actuated surfaces integrated on existing technologies (mobile phones, touch pads, game consoles) can turn the device into a concentrator of stimuli. Visually impaired users or persons with low sensory capabilities can benefit from active touchpad's tactile information, potentially delaying or slowing down the decline of their sensory abilities. This patented technology is developed in collaboration with Genoa: Smart Materials Platform for the nanocomposite development and RCBS for user validation.

Hybrid and Organic Photovoltaic

(HOPV)

Hybrid and Organic Photovoltaic

In the framework of polymer-based solar cells, we have been developing an alternative device fabrication strategy, which consists in a sequential coating of the donor and acceptor species from orthogonal solvents, resulting in a diffused bi-layer (DB) device structure.

The DB device geometry can be assimilated to a graded bulk heterojuntion with an improved reproducibility and mean power conversion efficiency (PCE) of ~3.4%, higher than that of the standard BHJ devices of ~3%.

Polaritons for all optical devices

Polaritons for all optical devices

The aim of this project is the use of strongly coupled light-matter quasi-particles, polaritons, to bring together the antagonist properties of photons and excitons (electron-hole pairs). Recently, these exotic semiconductor quasi-particles have shown to undergo the transition to a condensed state of matter called Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC).

This feature empowers them with unique properties which are not limited to the investigation of fundamental questions regarding novel quantum phenomena of Bose-Einstein condensed fluids in a semiconductor chip and at room temperature, but indeed extends further into the semiconductor implementation of BEC to bring quantum physics in tomorrow's technology. Recently, thanks to the easy way of controlling and manipulating polariton states, as well as their fast dynamics, we demonstrated that polaritons can be used as the perfect test-bed for the study of quantum phenomena which are hard to observe in other systems.

Photoelectrochemical devices for solar energy conversion and shielding

Research activities have been structured to deal with practically all the most meaningful aspects concerning fabrication technologies and cell architectures as well as to provide an accurate analysis of both the electric and electrochemical key features of a dye solar cell (DSC) [1].

Semiclassical Neutral Atom as a Reference System in Density Functional Theory

Semiclassical Neutral Atom as a Reference System in Density Functional Theory

The Density Functional Theory (DFT) is the most popular first-principles computational method to describe many-electron systems in condensed-matter physics, quantum chemistry and nanoscience. However, its accuracy depends on the approximation of the exchange-correlation (XC) energy functional, which contains all the electron-electron interaction effects beyond the classical Coulomb repulsion. Reference model systems, which can be solved exactly, are of utmost importance for the current quest for the exact XC functional.

We propose to use the non-relativistic semi-classical neutral atom with an infinite number of electrons as a reference system to construct a non-empirical generalized gradient approximation (GGA) for the XC functional. In this work, published in Physical Review Letters, we showed that this new functional, named APBE, is among the most accurate GGAs for molecular systems, it is non-empirical and perform well also for solid state.

Smart bio-nanomaterials that actively play a functional biological role

Smart bio-nanomaterials that actively play a functional biological role

Due to the possibility to design smart bio-nanomaterials that may trigger specific biological functionalities, the interactions between biological systems and nanostructured materials are attracting increasing interest. In this framework, we studied the response of neurons to gold surfaces with different levels of nanoroughness.

We found that cells are capable to sense and actively respond to the specific nanotopography with a surprising sensitivity to variations of few nanometers. Moreover, by seeding neurons onto micropatterned flat and nanorough gold surfaces, we can induce a clear self-alignment of cells by simply tuning the surface topography at nanometer scale.

Copyright © 2012 Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). Via Morego, 30 16163 Genova, Italy. Tel: +39 010 71781. C.F. 97329350587 - P.I. 09198791007
Try our new site and tell us what you think
Take me there