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Final Report Summary - ILSES (Metal nanoparticle interactions with bioorganic molecules and their applications in biosensing)

Present project combines equipment facilities, research skills and experience of groups from five powerful scientific institutions from European Union and three institutions from such partner countries as Ukraine, Russia and USA. The project work is planned and realized via big set (91) of staff exchange secondments aimed joint preparation of samples, sharing of equipment facilities between host and guest researchers for joint experiments, exchange of good practice and knowledge both in science and in scientific management and technology transfer fields. Scientific tasks are grouped around applications of metal nanoparticles in optical sensing and spectroscopy of organic molecules and associated areas. Each project participant shares experience and accentuates efforts on those groundworks, which are especially strong in his institution. Thus project tasks are realized in complementary manner, when each partner uses own strong sides for the implementation of joint work. Logically project consists of 4 workpackages. Main features for each of them are described below.

Workpackage 1 aimed development of the Surface Enhanced Spectroscopy (SES) laboratory. SES laboratory was organized as a community of scientists working with Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) and Surface Enhanced Infrared Absorption effects (SEIRA). Thus mutual exchange of stuff between these groups was realized for the transfer of good scientific experience in work with infrared and Raman equipment and training of young scientists. In frame of this work package a set of visits between Institute of Physics, NAS of Ukraine and such institutions as University of Tartu, Estonia, University of Turin, Italy and Free University of Berlin, Germany was realized. These institutions have a set of complementary Raman and infrared spectroscopic equipment, which allowed advanced investigations of vibrational spectra from such DNA constituents as adenine and thymine and also from the protein bovine serum albumine (BSA) adsorbed on the nanostructured gold. Hydroxyapatite nanoparticles prepared in the University of Turin were also examined as SEIRA surfaces. Obtained results were represented at several international scientifc conferences including those, which were organized by project participants on the initiative of Dr. Olena Fesenko from the Institute of Physics, NAS of Ukraine.

The objective of workpackage 2 is functionalization of nanoparticles by organic molecules and obtaining novel data about interactions of nanostructures with biomolecules. To achieve this aim a set of exchange visits took place in directions from Ukrainian and Russian partners to EU Partners and vice versa. Particularly, University of Pierre and Marie Curie led the project tasks, in which gold nanoparticle modified by organic shell can be driven by electric voltage from the sharp tip of scanning tunneling microscop in regime in which the electric current is controlled electron by electron (Coulomb blockade). The prospects of this result for the using in sensing devices and molecular switches were represented at the international scientific conference NANO-2014, August 23-30, 2014, Yaremche-Lviv, Ukraine and published in scientific papers (DOI: 10.1021/la5029806, DOI: 10.1021/la5030058). During the set of exchange secondments between University of Tartu and Institute of Physics, NAS of Ukraine, it was shown ( that decrease in size of metal nanoparticles from hundreds to tens nanometers causes transformation of surface plasmon-polariton waves to localized surface plasmons. Using of localized plasmons for control of fluorescence (DOI: 10.1186/1556-276X-9-143) and light absorption in solar cells (DOI:10.1007/s00339-014-8681-z, DOI:10.1016/j.surfcoat.2015.01.036) was investigated and reported in collaboration with Estonian scientific groups of Tartu and Tallinn Universities. A concept of electron transfer from the graphene substrate to the adenine and several other organic molecules was developed in course of staff exchange visits. Contribution from this electron transfer to the SERS effect was investigated and published in several scientific articles cited by the ISI Web of Knowledge database. Researchers from General Physics Institute in collaboration with the project beneficiary from Johannes Keppler University experimentally and theoretically investigated fluorescent behaviour of phtalocyanine and pheophorbide photosentisizers capped on the gold nanoparticles. These photosensitizers are prospective for the medical treatment of cancer. Curing of cancer cells is strongly dependent on the permeability of their membranes for the drugs. The search of optimal geometry of noble metal nanoparticles for the sensing of switchable membrane proteins was carried during exchange visit from Johannes Keppler University to the Houston Medical School at the University of Texas, USA. During the visit of young Italian researchers to the same Medical school it was revealed that not only noble metal, but also hydroxyapatite nanoparticles can improve spectral signal from the protein, particularly bovine serum albumin molecules.

The aims of workpackage 3 are oriented on the applications of effects revealed in workpackage 2 for optical sensing. So the tasks of workpackage 3 logically follow from the results of workpackage 2. In this sense the results of secondments from University of Tartu, Estonia to General Physics Institute, Russia are important. Because they were devoted to the application of fluorescent nanoparticles to practical visualization of cancer diseases by means of laser fluorescent diagnostics. In collaboration with Moscow scientists they prepared rare earth doped nanoparticles and revealed that for their effective using quenching of fluorescence by OH groups adsorbed on their surface should be avoided (DOI: 10.1039/c4cp03774j). The reciprocal visits of Moscow scientists to Estonian colleagues aimed the selection of the most optimal stoichiometric ratio of components in the host material of nanoparticles providing the most effective fluorescent properties. Spectral sensing of bacteriochlorin photosentisizer and protein molecules on the nanostructured noble metal surfaces by SERS and SEIRA methods was realized during the scientific secondment of Moscow young researches to the Free University of Berlin, Germany. They obtained nice training and important experience in time-resolved UV/Vis spectroscopy, measurement of absorption kinetics after laser excitation (bacteriochlorin in solution and nanoparticle forms), time-resolved IR absorption spectroscopy of biological molecules using quantum-cascade laser. During the reciprocal visit of early stage researchers to Moscow the Au nanoparticles shaped as nanostars and covered by fluorescent dye were examined for the visualization and treatment of organic cells.

Finally the objective of workpackage 4 is exchange of experience and practice in implementation of scientific achievements to the technologies and their commercialization. Technology transfer experts from the Institute of Physics of NAS of Ukraine visited the University of Pierre and Marie Curie and University of Tartu. During these visits managers from these organizations exchanged by good practices and features in organization of research and development management, intellectual property protection and technology transfer. Particularly experts shared their knowledge on tracking patents, managing licenses, creation of innovative start-ups. Namely guests visited the laboratory of Professor Nicolas Treps (France), who shared his experience on successful creation of start-up based on its promising inventions. During these meetings the possibilities for joint submission of international collaborative projects were discussed and fruitful contacts were established. During the visits to the University of Tartu managers discussed main tools for marketing search and analysis at the Research and Development office of University of Tartu, visited Tartu Science Park and TBD Biodiscovery Company specializing on the synthesis of substances for tumor therapy.

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