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  REASEARCH TOPICS

-Materials Science

The materials science group at section physical sciences is engaged in both applied and fundamental research. The group offers solutions and expertise in the field of strain measurements, structure and topography determination, texture measurements, studies of inhomogeneities, studies of surfaces and interfaces in the following subjects:

 

- Materials for fusion reactor technologies.

- Welds for several applications including satellites.

- Turbine blades for electric generation plants.

- Turbine blades for aeronautical applications.

- Alloys and steels.

- Metal matrix composites

- Coatings

- Glasses

- Polymeric matrix composites.

- Precious metals

- Archaeological artefacts

- Chitosan for food tecnology and drug delivery

   

In this frame the section has obtained research contracts with the following instutions:

  - European Space Agency (E.S.A.)

  - Italian Space Agency (A.S.I.)

  - C.N.R.

  - ENEA

  - ENEL

  - TEKSID (FIAT)

 

-Tissue Engineering

The section has a large esperience in the analisys of the microstructural properties of bones and regenerated tissues by the following thecniques:

  - X-ray/neutron diffraction

  - Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)

  - X-ray microtomography

  - X-ray microdiffraction

In particular, x-ray microtomography (micro-CT) is know to be a unique technique for non-invasive, non destructive three-dimensional (3D) characterization of materials in medicine, material science, biology and tissue engineering. Its popularity can be attributed to its ability to provide precise quantitative and qualitative information on the 3D morphology of the specimen. Micro-CT is a 3D radiographic imaging technique, similar to conventional CT tomography systems used in medical and industrial applications. Unlike such systems, which typically have a maximum spatial resolution of about 1 mm, micro-CT is capable to achieve a spatial resolution close to 1 micron.  Micro-CT has been used in many studies to study in detail the original 3D structure of different biomaterials in terms of dimensions, shape, internal defects or density, total porosity, pore size distribution and degree of pore interconnection.

 

-Molecular Biophysics (click here to visit the web pages of molecular biophysics group)

The biophysical research group of Ancona has a proven experience in the analysis of the structural properties of molecular systems of biological relevance (including proteins, DNA derivatives, lipid systems, Langmuir-Blodgett films, lipid and protein monomolecular films at the air/water surface or deposited on solid surface). Specific know-how covers:

  - lipid membranes
  - macromolecular lyotropic phases (including lipid, detergent and DNA liquid crystalline structures)
  - interactions between helices in solution (including DNA and telomers)
  - thermotropic liquid crystals
  - protein structure in solution (including conformational changes, aggregation properties, protein-protein interactions, protein-DNA interactions)
  - monolayers of amphiphilic molecules at the air-water interface (including protein film at the air water interface)

  - monolayers of amphiphilic molecules on solid substrates (including protein film on solid substrates)
  - Langmuir-Blodgett films
 

The experimental research is mainly based on X-ray and neutron scattering techniques, including low-angle and high-angle X-ray and neutron diffraction in-solution, X-ray and neutron small-angle scattering, grazing-incidence small-angle X-ray scattering and grazing-incidence X-ray and neutron reflectivity.
In the last years, the biophysics research unit has spent a large effort to develop computational methods to analyze SAS data obtained from proteins in solution. The main objectives are shape analysis, conformational changes, folding/unfolding processes and aggregation properties. Moreover, particular attention is devoted to the determination of protein-protein interaction potential. Two different approaches are used: the first is based on an ab initio shape reconstruction of proteins; the second uses the crystallographic co-ordinates to derive protein structural properties (compactness, quaternary structure, protein-protein radial correlation functions). Methods and algorithms developed and implemented in original (in-house implemented) software include: shape multipole expansion; information theory and Maximum Entropy; group theory; Stone's invariants expansion; Reverse Monte Carlo; density expansion of correlation functions.