Cowlesite: the first natural 2D zeolite

Pisa, 26/10/2020

Researchers of the Electron Crystallography research line coordinated by Mauro Gemmi have just published onACS Central Science the crystal structure of Cowlesite, a natural zeolite known since the 70’s but whose structure remained a mystery for years. The crystal structure determination is based on 3D electron diffraction, a novel method of structure characterization developed at CNI. The researchers have prepared the sample of Cowlesite by fast freezing a dispersion of crystals in water. In this way the crystals have been covered by vitrified ice, which prevented them to lose the interstitial water in the vacuum of the microscope, maintaining their crystal structure intact. Cowlesite structure is really unconventional. It is formed by 2D zeolitic blocks weakly bounded by Ca and water layers, which are responsible for its highly defective structure. Interestingly, if Cowlesite is not covered with vitrified ice, in the microscope vacuum it loses water and the 2D blocks attached forming a novel 3D zeolitic framework. Cowlesite is the first 2D natural zeolite ever discovered.

Pubblished a Cover to ACS Biomaterials journal from Valerio Voliani

Pisa, 14/09/2020

Is pubblished in ACS Biomaterials & Engineering journal a cover about :

The integration into the preclinical research workflow of 3D neoplasms models is particularly appealing to promote the success of therapeutics in clinical trials while reducing the number of in vivo models. The cover image reports head and neck squamous cell carcinoma aggregates (yellow) on the lid of a petri dish before the formation of the tridimensional structures. The research leading to these results has received funding from AIRC under MFAG 2017, ID 19852 project, P.I. Voliani Valerio. View the article.

Electron crystallography at CNI awarded among the most cited papers of IUCrJ journal

In a recent summary paper on IUCr journal perspective J. Allen cites our paper ‘Nanobeam precession assisted 3D electron diffraction reveals a new polymorph of hen egg-white lysozime’ Lanza et al. (2019)as one of the most cited of the IUCrJ journal among those on Cryo-EM. Literally Allen says that in this paper “a group from Italy, present the first new protein structure both determined from 3D electron diffraction data and validated by X-ray crystallography. The authors point to potential new insights being achievable by combining electron and X-ray crystallography methods.”

Photothermal effect by NIR-triggered nano passion fruits: a step forwards to the translation of metal nanomaterials to clinics

The research unit coordinated by Dr. Valerio Volianiat the Center for Nanotechnology Innovation of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia located in Pisa (Italy) has reported on Materials Horizons (Royal Society of Chemistry) the first noble metal nanoarchitecture able to jointly combine efficient photothermal conversion and renal excretion of the building blocks. The Authors have employed home-made 3D neoplasm models to confirm the exciting potentiality of nano passion fruits for the treatment of some solid cancers. This pioneering work is showcased on the inside back cover of the journal and might unlock the true potential of noble metal nanoplatforms for the treatment of neoplasms, filling the gap between bench-to-bed side. Congratulation to all co-Authors, and in particular to: Dr. Domenico Cassano, Dr. Melissa Santi, and Katrina Mapanao.

link to article

3D electron diffraction of protein nanocrystals: a new scenario in the field of crystallography

The research groups lead by Mauro Gemmi and Gianpiero Garau at the Center for Nanotechnology Innovation of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia located in Pisa (Italy), determined for the first time the structure of a new polymorph of a protein by collecting 3D electron diffraction data from single nanocrystals. Obtaining crystals of sufficient size in the micrometer range for diffraction data collection is well known to be the major bottleneck of protein crystallography, the most powerful methodology to investigate at atomic level how proteins and other biostructures are made, function and interact in living organisms. The IIT researchers demonstrated that also protein nanocrystals, obtained at the first stages of the crystallization process and invisible in optical microscopes, can be used for the characterization of protein architectures. This result opens innovative scenarios in the field of crystallography of biomaterials and discovery of novel drugs by structure-based design.

More details can be found at following link

3D electron diffraction revealed a new nanocrystalline form of calcium carbonate.

An international team made of Hungarian, Austrian and Italian researchers discovered a new natural form of CaCO3, a well-known formula already associated with three polymorphic minerals: calcite, aragonite and vaterite. The new form was sampled in the first precipitates of percolating water inside a dolomitic Alpine cave, where it appears as sub-micrometric needles that naturally turn into conventional aragonite with time. Enrico Mugnaioli and Mauro Gemmi, of the Center for Nanotechnology Innovation@NEST (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia), were able to unveil the atomic structure of these tiny crystals using 3D electron diffraction, a cutting-edge technique that allows structure determination of crystals too small for conventional X-ray methods. The structure of the new polymorph can be imagined as a modulated sequence of conventional aragonite layers, from which derived its name monoclinic-aragonite (mAra). mAra results to be a straight precursor of common aragonite explaining why this mineral, that should otherwise not form on Earth surface conditions, is so common among the carbonates playing a major role in bio-mineralizations.

More details can be found at the following link

Lions of Science: Ready to Go!

Il prossimo 28 marzo il nostro Valerio Voliani, in stretta collaborazione con i Lions Club International, darà il via ad una serie di incontri incentrati sulla divulgazione dei metodi e dei risultati più recenti delle scienze dei materiali. L'iniziativa è rivolta ai professori e agli alunni delle scuole superiori delle province di Pisa, Lucca e Livorno.

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Boost-UP Day One - The New Generation of Materials Scientists

Da una brillante idea del nostro giovane ricercartore Valerio Voliani è nato il progetto "Boost-UP Day" realizzato con il finaziamento della società scientifica Materials Research Society.

Questo progetto prevede una serie d'incontri con gli istituti delle medie superiori del territorio toscano coi quali si parlerà di temi e tecniche legate al mondo della ricerca dei nuovi materiali sia con gli insegnanti che con gli studenti

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Serate Scientifiche Lungarno

Siamo lieti di presentare una serie di incontri su tematiche scientifiche, in collaborazione con "Argini e Margini", che saranno svolte tutti i martedì di giugno presso la suggestiva sede di Argini e Margini sul Lungano Galilei in comitanza della maggiore manifestazione pisana ("Giugno Pisano").

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Workshop European Multidisciplinary Scientific Day

Il prossimo 19 aprile saremo presenti al workshop European Multidisciplinary Scientific Day (E.M.S.D.) presso il dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale in via moruzzi,13 (Pisa ) con l'intervento di Gianpiero Garau.

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"Rose" e "Loto" due immagini di Valerio Voliani scelte nell'ambito del Google Lunar Xprize

Il nostro ricecatore Valerio Voliani lascerà una traccia umana sulla Luna per i prossimi 5 milioni di anni!

Le sue due “opere d’arte”,  le immagini che ritraggono nanomateriali da lui stesso raccolte con un microscopio a scansione elettronica e colorate, saranno inserite in una capsula che sarà spedita e depositata alla fine dell’anno sul nostro pianeta satellite, insieme ad altri 300 prodotti di artisti provenienti da tutto il mondo (poesie, suoni, melodie e altre “oggetti”). Le immagini sono state selezionate dalla Carnegie Mellon University e inserite nel concorso Google Lunar Xprize.

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5DNanoPrinting has started!

The 5D NanoPrinting project has started with its first virtual kick-off meeting held in the IIT - Center for MicroBioRobotics in Pontedera the 21st of September. The goal of the project is to create an innovative technology for the rapid-prototyping realization of micro(nano)machines and components that will find several cutting-edge applications in fields like consumer electronics, automotive and healthcare. 5dNanoPrinting was granted a budget of 3.58 million euros under the EU’s Horizon 2020 FET Open Program. CNI is participating to the project with a team of researchers of the Electron Crystallography research line coordinated by Mauro Gemmi.