Our Research - Treetop

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Research & Initiatives

Research Themes       Collaborations         Projects
Research Themes
The project target is devoted to the study of doped crystalline oxides with large potential applications in photonics as phosphors, in the field of high energy as scintillators, dosimetry (OSL in particular), and lighting (LED, CFL).
The research topic covers the structural and symmetry properties of the matrix, gives deep insight into the crystal field interaction with different dopants, and leads directly to the development of non-conventional applications with the aim to suggest and/or patent prototypes in the next future. Moreover, the study of base properties and the complete understanding of the physical phenomena related to the new materials can boost industrial development.
Summarizing, the present project from one side proposes the sample characterization and the optimization of commercial devices already known, at least partially, to the scientific community, from the other side proposes new applications outside the present use field.

In applications like water splitting, solar energy conversion and environmental remediation semiconductor-based photocatalysts represent a potentially disruptive technology. The exploitation of solar radiation helps to meet the ever-increasing demand for energy and the necessity to mitigate the impact of anthropogenic pollutants.  For this reason, the study and discovery of new photocatalysts with high efficiency in the visible range of the spectrum in required. The necessity arises from the fact that such photocatalysts can utilize a sizeable visible component of the solar spectrum (up to 43%) whereas those reliant on higher energy photons are inherently limited by the relatively low intensities in the ultraviolet (UV) (≈ 5%).
The subject of the search is focalized  on classes of nanosized metal oxides, such as TiO2, Fe2O3, SnO2, Y2O3, which is affecting more and more the scientific world for its wide range of applications in different sectors: advanced technology to catalysis and photocatalysis that in the microelectronics and optoelectronics.
Over the years, we deepened the theme on the surface defects (mainly oxygen vacancies) and their role on the photocatalytic properties and the effects of confinement related to the small size. Moreover, a detailed study was undertaken to investigate the effect of optical excitation intragap on defectivity and phase stability and the possibility of activating the defectivity and their reactivity. In this framework, we are studying the possibility of using visible optical excitation to select preferential sites for bonding organic molecules and create new hybrid systems.

Critical Raw Materials
 This research topic is a very high potential one, strictly connected with the aims of the EU commission as underlined by the central role of the RESET commitment (2014-2019) (recognized by the High-Level Steering Group of the EIP), where PC Ricci was the Project Leader and, from 2017, member of the EIP.
The main objective is the identification of the main applications in photonics and optoelectronics in which the critical raw materials (identified by the European Commission in 2010 and renewed in 2014 and 2017) have key roles.
The first application area identified was the LED lighting systems and CFL, where rare-earths elements (REE) acts as downshift energy phosphors for conversion of electroluminescence or discharged to obtain the desired color rendering. REE represent the main elements to be replaced. Have already been identified as promising phosphors for these purposes, some hybrid organic/inorganic presenting excellent resistance to high temperatures and the surrounding environment.

Cultural Heritage
In the last decades, Raman spectroscopy gained a key role in the field of cultural heritage. The peculiarity of this technique consists in its non-destructive character, portability, and high sensitivity. In addition, it can be considered a thorough technique for compositional analysis: it is able to study not only inorganic materials (e.g. crystalline phases and their transitions), but also organic materials or functional groups, like hydroxy ions OH- related to hydration conditions of a specific compound.  For what concerns inorganic materials this technique is complementary to the other reference techniques like X-Ray Diffraction (XRD, destructive) and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF, no-destructive), preserving the no-destructive and portability characteristic, in addition to the high sensitivity. Raman spectroscopy overpasses the limit of mentioned techniques with particular attention to light elements (portable XRF detects elements only with atomic number  Z>11), which barely allows discriminating of an organic compound.
Find below some recent and active collaborations on different thematics.
We are always ready to start new collaboration and share our ideas

Prof. Svetlana Neretina (Notre Dame - USA) - Collaborations on Plasmonic effects, photocatalytic materials
Prof. Radim Beranek (ULM - Germany) - Collaborations on Carbon Nitride based materials, photocatalytic materials and properties
Prof. Mathieu Salaun (Grenoble -France) - Collaborations on the development of new phosphors
Dr. Daniel Salazar (BC Materials, Bilbao - Spain) - Collaborations on Perovskite Materials
Prof. Jose Angel De Toro (UCLM - Spain) - Collaborations on different materials, from the magnetic to optical properties
Dr Francesco Floris (Tyndall - Ireland) - Collaboration within the Actiphast project
Prof. Luca Malfatti and Dr. Luigi Stagi (Univ. Sassari) . Collaborations on Carbon Dots, within the project Candl2
Dr. Rocco Lagioia (ITRB - Cyprus) - Collaboration on different themes related to Critical Raw Materials and new strategies. Patrner in the CUBER project
Prof. Philippe Smet (Lumilab Ugent Belgium) - Collaboration luminescent  materials

Dr. Mahmoud Aburish-Hmidat - (FILAR -OptoMaterials) - Collaborations on Single crystals (laser components)

Raggruppamento Carabinieri Indagini Scientifiche (RIS) - Collaborations on optical forensic analysis

Prof. Francesco Secci (University of Cagliari) - Close partner on organic and organic/inorganic compounds.

CUBER 2019 - 2023 Unit Leader Copper-based Flow Batteries for Energy Storage and Renewables Integration (H2020-LC-BAT-2019-2020/H2020-LC-BAT-2019)
Objective. The overall objective of CuBER is to tackle all these aspects holistically by developing and validating in a relevant environment a low-cost and scalable stationary energy storage technology with a proven superior environmental performance based on a non-critical and earth-abundant material (copper),

Raman4CoV: 2020 SERS 4 COVID / Project Leader The project is based on the use of Raman spectroscopy for the rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 in buffers and the presence of its antibodies in the plasma. Develop a fast and reliable tool for the detection of viruses by Raman spectroscopy.

NG:Light: a new generation of phosphors 2019-2021 / Project Leader The purpose of the proposal is to achieve a new generation of phosphors, suitable for white LED (WLED) and fluorescent devices with a reduced or zero content of Rare Earth elements (REEs), aiming to support more efficient and green exploitation of natural resources for energetic and environmental sustainability.

RESET - Coordinator 2014-2019 Commitment recognized as a Raw Materials Commitment (RMC) by the High-Level Steering Group of the EIP.  10 academia, 5 Research centers, 10 large companies, 11 European SME. Involving 8 EU countries: Italy, France, Spain, U.K., Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland.
CANDL2 2019-2023 / Unit Leader The project is focalized on the study of Carbon Dots for photonic applications
New Phosphors with reduced Content of CRM - PhD position The project is focalized on the development of new materials and phosphors with reduced content of Critical Raw Materials. The project is financed with a PhD position in collaboration with the University of Ghent and with the Italian SME FialrOptomaterials

COVAX LABEL - Fisr 2021 - Project financed in the framework of the National program against Covid pandemic diseases.
The project is focalazid in the use of smart label for the effective time/temperature monitoring in vaccines

Paint forVid 2021 - Project financed in the framework of the Regionalprogram against Covid pandemic diseases.
Paint4Vid project aims to develop and optimize photocatalytic materials able to operate with visible light to inactivate viruses and bacteria.
In this project we intend to use a recent patent from the University of Cagliari (PCT / IB2020 / 052240 dated 20 March 2020) as the starting point to develop highly efficient photocatalytic paints able to activate the photocatalytic process when excited in the visible spectrum (wavelengths <600 nm). The inventors are all members of the Treetop group.

Actilabel - Proof of Concept project - The Project financed by the Eureka venture funds is focalized on the development of new smart labels for the active monitoring of Time and Temperature. The project idea starts on the Patent PCT/IB2018/050772 owned by the University of Cagliari where the inventors are all members of the Treetop group.
Dipartimento di Fisica - Cittadella Universitaria sp.8 Km 0-700 09042 Monserrato /CA) - Italy
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