The development of biosensors and biomaterials is largely based on the design of hybrid systems obtained by coupling biomolecules and inorganic surfaces. Protein microarrays and sensors based on functionalized nanoparticles are just two examples among the many recent developments in nanobiotechnology. Understanding the mechanisms of interaction of organic and biological molecules with inorganic surfaces is therefore a key issue.
This research deals with the study of aminoacids and proteins adsorbed on solid surfaces like gold, graphite and silicon. The main topics under investigation are the effect of surfaces on protein folding and functionality and the possibility of exploiting nanostructured surfaces as templates to guide the ordered deposition of proteins and protein aggregates like amyloid fibrils.
A second research field is related to biocompatible materials for the development of prosthetic dental/orthopedic implants. Two critical requirements for implant materials are the resistance to bacterial adhesion and the capability to promote bone growth. This activity is focused on the preparation of nanostructured titanium dioxide surfaces and on their functionalization with organic/biological molecules able to promote antibacterial properties and osseointegration.