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

Nano2Fun, a network composed of 10 full and 6 associated partners, in 4 years of activity recruited and educated to research 18 Nano2Funners, including 13 early stage researchers (ESR) and 5 experienced researchers (ER). Nano2Funners worked in close collaboration in an exciting, multidisciplinary and multisectoral environment to bring 2-photon microscopy and 2-photon polymerization from the research laboratories towards applications.
Diversity is central to Nano2Fun: it counts 15 participating nations (including India and US), 11 academic and 5 non-academic partners. Nano2Funners came from India, Greece, Belarus, Italy, Russia and Spain with 7 female out of 18 young scientists, working in a network led by a female senior scientist and with several female scientists in leading roles.
7 training days were organized within the network, covering scientific and complementary skills:
1. “Light, molecules and models” Slupsk, Poland, March 20-21, 2014
2. “Photophysics & Nonlinear Spectroscopy”, Antwerp, Belgium, September18-19,2014
3. “Science Policies and Social Themes”, Bangalore India, March 12, 2015
4. “Professional Conduct & Career Planning”, Barcelona, Spain, September 14, 2015
5. “Doctors@Industry”, Barcelona, Spain, September 16, 2015
6. “Two-photon polymerization”, Hannover, Germany, April 04-06, 2016
7. “Innovative synthesis and imaging techniques for TPA materials”, Bordeaux, France, October 25, 2016
A final international conference was held in Parma on May 10-12, 2017.
Training through research was implemented enrolling Nano2Funners in state of the art laboratories of research centres in academic and non-academic institutions. A tight collaboration was enforced by periodic meetings (8 meeting overall) and by a large number (>30) of secondments. Main representative research results may be listed as follows:
1. synthesis and characterization of linear and non-linear optical properties of new dyes for applications in 2-photon microscopy and 2-photon polymerization.
2. preparation and characterization of fluorescent, water-soluble, stable and bio-compatible nanoparticles for bioimaging.
3. definition and validation of models for defining structure-properties relationships for optical properties of aggregates and nanoparticles of dyes for 2-photon applications.
4. implementation of 2-photon polymerization techniques using microchip picosecond lasers also exploiting holographic techniques for parallel printing.
5. scaling-up and industrialization of the production process of organic nanoparticles for biomedical applications.
6. development of image-visualization tools, including web-based tools.
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The research activity was disseminated widely by Nano2Funners and senior scientists that participated to national and international conferences, presenting more than 40 oral communications and more than 40 posters. 38 papers in reviewed international journals have already been published within Nano2Fun, 21 of which co-authored by Nano2Funners, and 10 more are submitted. 1 European patent was submitted, co-authored by 2 Nano2Funners.
11 out of 13 ESRs were enrolled in PhD programs and 7 of them obtained their PhD degree before the end of the project.
A rich, diverse and proactive education and outreach activity program was developed and successfully deployed, 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. Two satellite events to the final conference in Parma were organized in May 2017: (1) Marie Skłodowska-Curie in Action: boosting your career and (2) Marie Skłodowska-Curie in Action: research & innovation opportunities for all, where distinguished speakers discussed the opportunities offered by MSCA to students and scientists. The final scientific outreach event was organized in Parma during the Researcher Night 2017, with a room dedicate to light that was visited by more than 200 people.
Nano2Fun is a dynamic consortium based on a large network of scientists and entrepreneurs characterized by strong, multidisciplinary, intersectoral and international collaborations that provided a fertile growth environment for a new generation of scientists with a solid knowledge background, a good propensity to research and technology transfer. Nano2Fun contributed to reinforce postdoctoral training in participating institutions, not just in term of internationalization, but also offering a model of good training practices. Nano2Fun success story will make a difference for our Nano2Funner fellows, giving a contribution to the scientific and educational community in Europe and outside it.

Results in brief
Two photons go 3D
When two photons hit a material in the same place at the same time, they can be simultaneously absorbed in a process called two-photon absorption (2PA), first described theoretically in 1931 by Maria Goeppert-Mayer. This process may only be triggered in the presence of very high light intensity, i.e. in the focus of a focused laser beam. The very tiny volume where 2PA occurs defines a voxel, the elementary unit volume that can be controlled by controlling the laser beam. 3D-bioimaging is then made possible by two-photon induced fluorescence with
unprecedented penetration depth, reduced photo-toxicity and photobleaching. 3D-printing is made possible by two-photon induced polymerization that allows fabricating objects with extreme resolution, good optical quality and in shapes that cannot be attained by the standard layer-by-layer 3D-printing technique.
The EU-funded Nano2Fun (Nanochemistry of Molecular Materials for 2-Photon Functional Applications) project had the ambitious target of developing new materials and methods to bring 2-photon-based 3D-imaging and 3D-printing towards wider and cheaper application as needed to enter the market. Towards this aim 11 academic and 5 non-academic partners from 15 nations joined efforts in a 4 year project where 18 young researchers were hired, having the opportunity to be trained in a very stimulating, international, intersectoral and multidisciplinary research environment.
The researchers developed new dyes and nanoparticles optimized for two-photon absorption with perspective implementation in theranostic (therapy & diagnostic) applications. They also implemented a new technique for 2-photon polymerization based on picosecond microchip lasers thus dramatically reducing the cost of the set-up.
Nano2Fun proposed an intense activity of public engagement that was particularly intense in 2015, to celebrate the international year of light. Among other things, Nano2Fun organized a workshop in Bangalore, a series of hand-on activities for the schools, and contributed to organize an exhibit on light in Parma.
Nano2Fun consortium offered a fertile growth environment for a new generation of scientists with a solid knowledge background and good propensity to research and technology transfer. Nano2Fun success story will make a difference for Nano2Fun fellows, giving a contribution to the scientific and educational community in Europe and outside it.

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