General Overview of our Research

Carbon nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are one of the most promising materials to interface with electrically active tissues, as neuronal and cardiac tissues. Their inherent electrical properties and their cylindrical shape are the key features to improve and boost the neuronal growth and functionality, such as axon excitability and the frequency of synaptic currents. Porous 3D structures were demonstrated to be able to induce neuronal network outputs and maintain the exceptionally unique capabilities of CNT to tune the genuine neuronal biological processes. On the other side, the design of electrodes based on conductive materials, such as conductive polymers (CPs), in brain-machine interface technology offers the opportunity to reduce gliosis, improve adaptability and increased charge-transfer efficiency. Herein, we are developing a novel methodology to construct 3D porous and conductive composites based on CPs (polypyrrole and PEDOT) and CNTs. The 3D constructions are synthesized via vapor phase polymerization (VPP) and electrochemical methodologies. The resulting self-standing bricks are very promising scaffolds that act as an electrode itself, with very low density and excellent porosity to allow the cell growth inside. In a final step, we incubate the constructs with neuronal and glial cells, thus demonstrating large biocompatibility of the material. Our final goal is to implant the 3D conductive scaffolds in vivo and demonstrate its ability as growth supports for electroactive tissue engineering.


Biosensing based on Graphene

The research of the Carbon Nanobiotechnology laboratory focuses on the development of functional carbon-based interfaces with enhanced performance in the field of biosensing and diagnostics. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene (G) are having a tremendous impact in biosensor design and preparation, in particular as electron transducers in electrochemical devices and field effect transistors. In practice, CNT- or G-based interfaces lead to platfroms with large surface areas, which enhance the surface loading of desired biomolecules and increase the sensitivity. In addition, the surfaces possess excellent conductivities with small band gaps, which are beneficial for transferring electrons between the biomolecules and the electrode surface and for semiconductors. Besides, the possibility of covalent or non-covalent functionalization of these carbon forms allows for the fine-tuning of the materials intrinsic chemical and physical properties along with the attachment of different recognition motifs (e.g. antibodies or genetic material) or other functional materials. All these properties enhance exponentially the fields of action of the modified bioelectronic implants and analytical sensors, ranging from the highly sensitive detection of cancer cells. The group also carries out basic research, studying a wide variety of methodologies for functionalization of carbon-based materials (GBMs), such as supported unsupported graphene, reduced graphene oxide or CNTs, mainly based on new cycloaddition and radical reactions. Of interest is also the preparation of multifunctional GBMs for broader applications, such as the design and preparation of new molecular materials with useful optical, electronic and/or biomedical properties.