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Polymers and gases in nanospaces

Silvia Bracco, Piero Sozzani

The preparation and characterization of novel nanostructured materials showing permanent porosity or including polymers in supramolecular architectures are the main target of our research group. The effort for designing suitable nanospaces and optimizing extended interfaces enabled the fabrication of materials containing gases and polymers endowed with unusual properties and controlled morphologies. The link between structure and properties was provided by a detailed characterization by magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance (MAS NMR) and wide-line NMR. Laboratories for synthesis and NMR spectroscopy, dedicated to the preparation and the characterization of solid materials, are available.


The current research topics are dedicated to the general themes of confinement of molecules and macromolecules to galleries and nanochannels of various cross-sections (0.5 up to 4.5 nm). Nanoporous materials are synthesised and exploited for this sake, realizing absorption of gases and polymerization in the confined state.

The matrices encompass molecular crystals (including dipeptides), hybrid mesoporous structures, hyper-crosslinked polymers and porous organic frameworks. The matrices, showing extended interactive areas (1000 - 5000 m2/g), form intimate host-guest adducts, realizing extraordinarily robust organic materials and solids containing molecular-rotors, whose dynamics is regulated by species diffusing-in.

The study of reactivity and interactions of the guests included in nanometric vessels and supramolecular architectures encompasses also morphological replicas by polymerization and thermal transformation of included polymers to conjugated  polymers or carbon nanofibers. Diffusion processes of gases into the porous materials and the direct detection of gases diffusing into solids is performed by MAS and hyperpolarized NMR (129Xe, CO2 and methane).


NMR Bruker Avance with wide bore 7.05 Tesla superconduction magnet dedicated to the solid state, fully equipped for high power output, 7 kHz and 15 kHz magic angle spinning probes and several heads for wide-line spectroscopy, including deuterium. Bruker-600 with cryoprobe of the last generation, with HR MAS and 35 kHz spinning-speed probes. High vacuum (10-9 torr) pump and equipment for hyperpolarized Xenon spectroscopy (laser-excited NMR). Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer, Gas-adsorption analyzers, Differential Scanning Calorimetry, Gel Permeation Cromatography.