Activity E: Advanced materials and techniques for organic electronics, biomedical and sensing applications

Activity5This project is aimed at investigating the fundamental properties of functional organic and inorganic materials, with specific responsiveness to physical (i.e. electromagnetic radiation, magnetic and electrostatic fields, heat, mechanical stress) and chemical (i.e. interaction with gas, liquid analytes, ionic species) external stimuli. These basic research efforts will be oriented to support the realization of innovative sensing and electronic devices to be mainly employed in the fields of biomedicine and smart systems. Further, this scientific chain will be completed with the development of computational techniques for the processing of data produced by such devices.

Activity Leader: Mario Barra

State of art

In the last years, functional compounds have been attracting a widespread interest of the scientific community in light of their favorable use for the development of smart and highly-integrated systems, where sensing, actuation and electronic control functions can be simultaneously incorporated. Through the continuous availability of electronic materials with innovative chemico-physical features, it is predicted that, in the next decades, this technological paradigm will be further enhanced and extended to many other applicative fields, until the concrete perspective to integrate smart functionalities even in everyday common objects. On the other hand, many of the responsive materials of interest display inherently a good biocompatibility level, putting them also at the forefront in supporting the birth of a new generation of devices to be applied in several bio-medical applications, with the ability to work with minimal invasiveness at the interface with the living matter. This possibility implies, consequently, also the need of developing numerical methods specifically designed for processing large amounts of data produced by different and sophisticated diagnostic modalities.


Starting from this general scenario, this project will be targeted on three main and deeply related applicative areas:

  • Innovative devices to be employed in biomedical applications and software toolboxes for data analysis applied for both validating the diagnostic properties of the developed systems and inferring information relevant for health monitoring;
  • Advanced sensing and actuating systems with high level of integration and/or multifunctional response;
  • Electronic and optoelectronic devices, with related complex circuits, fabricated on flexible, large-area and/or transparent substrates.

Activities in any of these sectors are conceived as highly sinergystic and the mutual exchange of ideas and technological competences between the involved researchers will be set as basic strategy.In order to face the technological challenges posed by the project objectives, the research efforts will be focalized on selected categories of materials: organic conjugated systems (small molecules and polymers), transition metal compounds (oxides and dichalcogenides) and multifunctional composites (magnetic elastomers, hydrid organic-inorganic frameworks, etc). The physical properties of these materials, particularly in form of thin and nano-structured films, will be deeply investigated both at micro- ad nano-scale. A particular attention will be paid also to analyze and possibly exploit new physical phenomena arising, in artificial and natural hetero-structures, at the interfacial regions separating compounds with different and tailored properties. Several specific research themes will be pursued in this project and will be concerned with the three applicative areas according to the following more detailed itemization:

  • Innovative electromechanical systems entirely based on transition metal compounds;
  • Infrared imaging bolometers, new type actuators and high frequency mechanical (100 kHz-10MHz) oscillators with memory capabilities based on functional oxides;
  • Magnetic and magneto-electric sensors for low-field detection;
  • Hetero-structures for multifunctional sensing based on novel detecting principles;
  • Macro- and nano-scale electronic transport at metal-oxide and metal-organic interfaces investigated by advanced scanning probe techniques;
  • New sensors for environmental monitoring;
  • Innovative photocatalysts and persistent luminescence materials for antibacterial activity and removing emerging pollutants;
  • Elasto- and nano-structured magnetic materials for sensing and actuating systems;
  • New magnetic nano-structures and composites for medical therapies;
  • Magnetism and (multi-)ferroic effects in organic materials and hybrid organic-inorganic metal frameworks;
  • Computational tools for image reconstruction, image processing, pattern recognition in structural, functional, and dynamic MRI, X-ray tomography, Positron Emission Tomography, and prototypal modalities;
  • Computational tools for the modeling of time series provided by sensor in electroencephalography (EEG) and SQUIDs in magnetoencephalography (MEG);
  • Software tools for the calibration and validation of advanced devices for biomedical applications;
  • Bio-compatible organic transistors based on field-effect and electrochemical doping for chemical and biological sensing in liquid environments;
  • Charge transport properties in organic and transition metal nano-channels;
  • Organic devices for flexible electronics: field-effect transistors and related complex analog and digital integrated circuits;
  • Organic and hybrid organic-inorganic devices for the detection and the conversion of light (photo-diodes, photo-transistors, photovoltaic cells);
  • Unconventional electromagnetic phenomena in artificial meta-materials;
  • New devices based on meta-materials for manipulating electromagnetic radiation from THz to visible regimes.


  • The envisioned research activities will rely on the utilization of a wide number of complementary experimental approaches, including:
  • Physical vapor (Pulsed Laser Deposition, Sputtering, Supersonic molecular beam evaporation) and solution-based (ink-jet printing, spin-coating, electro-spinning) deposition methods;
  • Advanced computational methods for data processing;
  • Advanced (visible, UV, x-ray) radiation-based material characterization techniques;
  • UV and e-beam lithographic processes;
  • Scanning Probe (AFM, MFM, STM, STM-BEEM, PFM, Kelvin probe) and Electron (SEM) microscopy;
  • Charge transport characterization techniques in various environments (versus temperature, in presence of magnetic field, in ac regimes, etc).

Main collaborations

  • Dipartimento di Scienze della Salute, Università di Genova
  • CNR-IBFM Istituto di bioimmagini e fisiologia molecolare 
  • IRMET S.p.A, Euromedic Int. 
  • Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, riabilitazione, oftalmologia, genetica e scienze materno-infantili, Università di Genova
  • Carestream Health Italia srl
  • IRCCS San Martino-IST, Genova 
  • Paramed srl, Genova 
  • IRCCS Istituto Giannina Gaslini, Genova
  • Dipartimento di Matematica, Università di Genova
  • Università degli Studi di Genova
  • Academy of Athens
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • CNRS, Université Paris-Sud
  • Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz
  • Met Office, Northumbria University
  • ISIR- Osaka University


  • Comunità Europea – H2020 (H2020-NMBP-10-2016)
  • MAECI -XI Programma Esecutivo (PE) di cooperazione scientifica e tecnologica per gli anni 2017-2019, progetti scientifici congiunti di “grande rilevanza”
  • U.S. Army International Technology Center Atlantic (ARMY RESEARCH LABORATORY)
  • Fondazione AriSLA,Par Fas 2007-2013
  • Comunità Europea - H2020-PROTEC-2014




SPIN belongs to
Cnr - Department of Physical Sciences
and Technologies of Matter