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The Complimentary Combination of Polyoxometalates and Metal Nanoparticles

Final Report Summary - COCOPOPS (The Complimentary Combination of Polyoxometalates and Metal Nanoparticles)

The cooperative chemistry of polyoxometalates (POMs) and metal nanoparticles (NPs) still remains a relatively unexplored area of the chemical sciences despite showing remarkable potential in fields as diverse as catalysis and medicine. The ability to exert synthetic control during the self-assembly of any nanostructured material constructed from molecular precursors is of fundamental importance for its application as new material or device. In recent years, zero-valent state plasmonic noble-metal NPs have received a remarkable amount of attention due to their distinctive chemical, physical and optical properties. Efficient synthetic protocols are therefore required in order to reliably access a range of NP shapes, sizes and elemental compositions in high yield with minimal cost and toxicity. One emerging approach involves the use of POMs as reducing, capping, and stabilising agents. Dr. Scott G. Mitchell (the applicant) has opened up a new research line based on the complimentary combination of polyoxometalates and metal nanoparticles in the research group of Dr. Jesús Martínez de la Fuente (the scientist in charge) at the Institute of Nanoscience of Aragón (INA) (part of The University of Zaragoza). The COCOPOPS research has used POMs to prepare colloidal metal NPs and has also combined POMs and metal NPs as nanohybrid nanomaterials possessing responsive and switchable properties that are tuneable on the nanoscale.
This two-year project has trained the applicant in essential areas of microscopy, biochemistry and nanoparticle science; while at the same time offering him ample project management, supervisory and teaching experience. He has generated novel materials, which are not merely of academic interest, but have the potential in a number of real world applications in medicinal devices, materials science and catalysis. Dr Mitchell has published a total of seven research papers in international journals (three as 1st author and three as corresponding author*), plus two further corresponding author* papers are currently under review and two more manuscripts are in preparation. He has begun applying the materials generated as part of this project as catalysts, antimicrobial and anticancer materials. He has presented the results of his research at eleven different scientific events during this two-year period: eight national/international conferences, one keynote presentation plus two invited lectures. He has established several important collaborations as a result of his published research and his presence at scientific meetings. Several of these collaborations have resulted in published papers (e.g. RSC Advances, ACS Nano etc.) and the applicant hopes to strengthen these networks in the coming years. Although he has thus far been unsuccessful in his quest to obtain joint research funding (Spanish and E.U.) with several of his collaborators he has not been deterred and will continue to improve and revise his research proposals to succeed in this endeavour.
One important part of his research at The University of Zaragoza has been his supervision of Masters project students along with JMF. In the academic year 2013/14 he supervised Gabriel Alfranca Ramón and Isabel Maicas Gabas (from the Master in Molecular and Cellular Biology), while in 2014/15 he supervised Alvaro Artiga Folch (Nanomaterials Master) and co-supervised Sonia Garcia (Biotechnology degree). This has been a rewarding experience and all students are now pursuing or in the process of initiating their Doctoral studies.
Another additional and unplanned aspect of the fellowship was Dr Mitchell’s involvement in voluntary teaching duties. First, he co-designed and ran a two-week intensive practical Masters course on Nanobiosensors at the ORT University Montevideo (Uruguay) in July 2013. Then during 2013/14 academic year he taught on the Biosensors lecture course as part of the Biomedical Engineering Masters and in 2014/15 he partook in teaching duties on the Nanomaterials Master, both at the University of Zaragoza.
Award of this Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship has been a significant step in Dr Mitchell’s career and the experience and knowledge gained during this two-year period has been crucial in determining his long-term development. The research that was carried out has built on existing skills and developed completely new research areas acting as a springboard for the applicant’s subsequent career. Having gained the training, support and experience required to ideally position him as a leading independent academic researcher in University, Dr Mitchell feels that he is now capable and poised to carry out internationally leading research that will advance the frontiers of knowledge.