Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - NANO2FUN (Nanochemistry of molecular materials for 2-photon functional applications)

Nano2Fun: writing and reading in 3D
We all are familiar with the concept of pixel, the smallest controllable element of a picture represented, for example, on a computer screen. The concept of voxel, as the smallest controllable volume element, is instead more exotic. Two-photon absorption is a non-linear optical phenomenon that allows defining and manipulating a voxel, by defining and manipulating the focus of a laser beam. We can start to dream about “3D screens” where we can read and write information in 3D.
Two photons must be found in the same place at the same time for two-photon absorption, a process that requires the high light intensity achievable in the focus of a laser beam. The voxel then corresponds to the small region of space (down to a cube whose edge is a million part of the edge of the liter-cube) where two-photon absorption occurs. We can “read” a voxel looking at the light emitted after two-photon excitation: with 2-photon bioimaging we can see what happens inside biological tissues, spotting very small objects whose shape can be reconstructed in 3D. We can “write” a voxel exploiting the two-photon absorption process to activate a photo-polymerization reaction: with 2-photon polymerization we can fabricate very tiny and well-detailed objects driving 3D-printers towards extreme and intrinsic 3D resolution.

Two-photon bio-imaging successfully exploits the light in the transparency window of biological tissues (red-infrared), and has already been demonstrated in vivo. Two-photon polymerization has been used to grow photonic crystals as well as small and complex structure of interest for health application (nanosyringe, nanovalves…) that can easily be personalized. Bringing the two techniques from the advanced research labs towards the market requires the design and optimization of materials and methods and represents the main aim of Nano2Fun, Nanochemistry of Molecular Materials for 2-Photon Functional Applications, an Initial Training Network project funded by the EU commission with more than 3.5 M€. Innovation through research and technology transfer are the flagwords of Nano2Fun, a multidisciplinary project run by a network of 16 advanced research labs, in Universities, public and private research centers distributed in Europe, India and United States, with different expertise in molecular and supramolecular synthesis, optical spectroscopy and photophysics, theoretical modelization, technological applications and industrial scaling-up.

The inherently multidisciplinary character of the research that spans a full range of disciplines between chemistry and physics offers an extremely profitable environment for the education through research of young researchers both in public and private sectors, in a lively international environment at the forefront of research. Education to research goes through multifarious activities: from field work Nano2Fun students are learning the importance of networking and team-work, the benefits of multi and inter-disciplinarity and the tight an fruitful link between basic research and applications, but they are also appreciating the richness of multicultural environments and the importance of gender balance. Nano2Fun is growing a new generation of scientists, nurtured in Europe and abroad, according to the high standards set by the EU-Commission, ready to meet the challenge of scientific research in the global world.
Nano2Fun consortium hired so far 16 young researchers, the Nano2Funners, among which 13 early stage researchers and 3 experienced researchers. Two more experienced researchers will be hired in the next few months. Secondments opportunities are offered to Nano2Funners to exploit the facilities available within the Network for top-level and multidisciplinary research. Five project meetings have been organized in different countries: Italy, Poland, Belgium, India and Spain, and 3 more meeting are planned in Germany, France and UK. Meetings are crucial events to exchange information and to facilitate the networking process. Nano2Funners are following a specific training program, covering scientific themes as well as soft skills: 5 training days have been organized, and 2 more are planned for the next year.
An intense outreach activity is going on, also stimulated by the International Year of Light, proclaimed by UNESCO for 2015. A welt of activities (exhibits, science fairs, researchers’ nights, laboratories organized at schools, seminars etc) have involved most of Nano2Funners, including the outreach event “Switch the Light on…” that took place in Bangalore, with the participation of college and PhD students.
In the first 2 years of the Nano2Fun project, 10 papers have been published in international peer-reviewed journals, and the work has been presented in several national and international/conferences (6 invited lectures, 4 oral communications, 8 poster presentations). An international conference will be organized at the end of the Project (September 2017): Nano2Funners will present their work to the international scientific and technical community, offering them a qualified stage to present themselves to prospective employers in the academic and commercial/industrial sectors.

Scientific Coordinator: Prof. Anna Painelli
Project Manager: Dr. Cristina Sissa
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