ITQ Severo Ochoa Lecture “Light, Nano and Functional Interfaces at work: from Fundamentals to catalysis”

El próximo viernes 7 de junio de 2024 a las 12h p.m. se llevará a cabo en el Salón de grados de la ETSII – UPV una nueva sesión de ITQ Severo Ochoa Lecture “Light, Nano and Functional Interfaces at work: from Fundamentals to catalysis”. La ponencia la impartirán Maurizio Prato, Marcella Bonchio y José Ramón Galán-Mascarós.

Maurizio Prato dará la ponencia “Carbon Nanodots: Nanolights for a Bright Future”.

Maurizio Prato. Professor, Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Trieste, Italy. CIC BiomaGUNE, San Sebastián, Spain. Título. Carbon Nanodots: Nanolights for a Bright Future.

In recent years, the focus of nanoscience and nanotechnology has gradually shifted from the synthesis of individual components to their assembly into larger systems and materials. Indeed, the precise organization of matter across multiple length scales is of particular interest because of its great potential for advanced functions and properties. The key challenges for the bottom-up assembly of nano-architectures relate to the control of surface composition of the building blocks. Specifically, exerting a precise control on the chemical functionalities of nanoparticles enables to guide their selective reaction towards the synthesis of complex suprastructures. In this context, carbon nanodots (CNDs), nanosized photoluminescent carbon particles, represent excellent starting units. Indeed, CNDs are described as composed of a carbon core covered by surface functionalities. The superficial properties regulate the interaction of the particles with the surrounding environment in terms of recognition and binding, reactivity, solvation, as well as the material processibility.

We have recently described a simple, scalable, reliable and cost-effective synthetic process for producing high-quality CNDs, by employing arginine and ethylenediamine as precursors [1,2]. The new material displays small size and high fluorescence quantum yields. Moreover, NCNDs can be easily post-functionalized, due to the abundant presence of amino groups.

We have also presented a rational synthetic design for mastering CND properties, showing the importance in the choice of the precursors. By using properly designed functional units, the desired  properties can be modulated, from the molecular to the nanoscale level in a controlled fashion. CNDs with customized emission can therefore be approached. Green, red and finally white-emitting CNDs were synthesized [3,4].

During this talk, we will communicate our latest results in this fast developing field.


Marcella Bonchio continuará con la ponencia “Bioinspired Supramolecular Photosynthesis”.

Marcella Bonchio. Full professor, Department of Chemical Science, University of Padova, ITM-CNR, INSTM unit, Padova, Italy.

In the early studies on Oxygenic Photosynthesis, the “quantasome hypothesis” led to seminal discoveries correlating the structure of natural photosystems with their complementary photo-redox functions. Indeed, and despite the vast bio-diversity footprint, just one protein complex is used by Nature as the H2O-photolyzer: photosystem II (PSII). Man-made systems are still far from replicating the complexity of PSII, showing the ideal co-localization of Light Harvesting antennas with the functional Reaction Center (LH-RC).

We report herein a synthetic, spectroscopic and mechanistic study on the use of multi-metal catalysts for water oxidation and their combined use with visible light sensitizers and carbon-based nanostructures (CNS). In particular we will report on the design of multi-perylenebisimide (PBI) networks shaped to function by interaction with a polyoxometalate water oxidation catalyst (Ru4POM). Our results with integrated artificial “quantasomes” formed both in solution and on photoelectrodes, show a: (i) red-shifted, light harvesting efficiency (LHE > 40%), (ii) favorable exciton accumulation and negligible excimeric loss; (iii) a robust amphiphilic structure; (iv) dynamic aggregation into large 2D-paracrystalline domains. The outcome is a hybrid organic-inorganic nanomaterial, showing a hierarchical supramolecular structure with a striking resemblance to the natural plasmid membranes, enabling water splitting using low energy green photons at overpotentials as low as the natural protein. These results are exploited within the European Project Plankt-ON (


Finalmente, José Ramón Galán-Mascarós impatirá la ponencia: Artificial leaves: optimising solar-to-fuels efficiency at a low cost.

José Ramón Galán-Mascarós. Professor, Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ). Título de la charla: Artificial leaves: optimising solar-to-fuels efficiency at a low cost.

A major challenge to support the energy transition and transforming the current energy model into distributed, renewable production is the development of efficient artificial leaf-type devices capable of directly converting carbon dioxide (CO2), water and sunlight into fuels and chemicals under ambient conditions. Viable technoeconomic analysis dictates a major requirement for artificial leaves: avoiding the use of expensive and critical  raw materials (CRM) to be sustainable and cost competitive.

In this presentation we will discuss the different approaches to build and scale artificial leaves with their advantages, regarding the efficiency of the overall processes able to transform solar energy into chemical bonds. We will emphasize the key parameters to improve performance and stability. And we will summarize the results of our European project A-LEAF ( Our consortium, with thirteen partners from eight different European countries, was able to design, build and demonstrate an artificial leaf with a >10% solar-to-fuels efficiency at remarkable current densities (> 17 mA cm–2) under autonomous operation at room temperature, without adding sacrificial donors or electrical bias, and using exclusively non-CRM materials.