“SMILEY” FP7 Financed Project

SMILEY aims to develop and apply a “bottom-up” approach to build nano-structured devices with smart, multi-functional properties. To this aim, nature is used as the inspiration for the development of an ensemble of MIneralization↔self-Assembly↔self-Organization processes (termed MIAO), which will be controlled to first generate elementary nano-sized building blocks, and then to direct their assembly.

These new devices will have the following applications:

i) Smart Air Filters for Capture of Nanoparticles Development of 3-D porous matrices obtained through mineralization of self-assembling natural polymers (e.g. chitosan, cellulose, gelatine, fibroin) with apatite-like phases. These will be employed as protective devices for selective filtration of nano-particles. These filters will also be smart, having the ability to be activated under a magnetic field. This will increase the capture efficiency by magnetic and thermophoretic interference, and the filters will also show anti-bacterial/ bacteriostatic behaviour.

ii) Scaffolds for Dental Repair and Regeneration Development of bio-hybrid composites made of self-assembling natural polymers (e.g. collagen, alginate, chitosan and cellulose) mineralized with biomimetic hydroxyapatite (HA) nano-particles. The MIAO process will be directed to obtain bioactive and cell-conductive scaffolds for the repair and regeneration of human hard tissues such as bone, cementum and dentin.

iii) Fibre-Based Photovoltaic Devices A new generation of dye-sensitized solar cells will be obtained using MIAO processes employing natural fibres (e.g. modified cotton, flax, wool, silk, fibroin) and mineral phases exhibiting photo-electronic properties (e.g.: SiO4/GeO4 apatitic-like phases, TiO2, ZnO).