Hot from the press: Two more published papers!

We congratulate two N&N researchers for two new publicationsMarti Gich for his third publication within a very short period of time and Anna Roig who is a co-author of one of the two recent publications. Both studies have been done together with other ICMAB researchers and collaborators from other institutions. 

Title: Carbon–Silica Composites to Produce Highly Robust Thin-Film Electrochemical Microdevices
Authors: Pengfei Niu, Laura Asturias-Arribas, Xavier Jordà, Alejandro R. Goñi, Anna Roig, Martí Gich, César Fernández-Sánchez
Citation: Niu, P. et al. Carbon-Silica Composites to Produce Highly Robust Thin-Film Electrochemical Microdevices. Adv. Mater. Technol. 1700163 (2017). 

Title: Piezo-generated charge mapping revealed through direct piezoelectric force microscopy
Authors: A. Gomez, M. Gich, A. Carretero-Genevrier, T. Puig and X. Obradors
Citation: Gomez, A., Gich, M., Carretero-Genevrier, A., Puig, T. & Obradors, X. Piezo-generated charge mapping revealed through direct piezoelectric force microscopy. Nat. Commun. 8, 1113 (2017).
We strongly recommend to read the Peer Review File of this paper published in Nature communications where the exchange of opinions between the authors and the referees is shown. 

Hot off the press: Published paper in “Small”

Congratulations to Martí Gich, tenured researcher at the N&N group, and the rest of the authors for the recently published paperElectric and Mechanical Switching of Ferroelectric and Resistive States in Semiconducting BaTiO3–δ Films on Silicon. Moreover, the paper was on the cover of the journal Small (Volume 13, Issue 39, October 18, 2017).

In article number 1701614, Andrés Gómez, Adrián Carretero-Genevrier, and co-workers report a novel approach to integrate epitaxial nanostructured n-type semiconducting BaTiO3−δ films on silicon by combining molecular beam epitaxy and a water-based chemical method. This growth strategy results into epitaxial BaTiO3−δ/La0.7Sr0.3MnO3/SrTiO3/Si columnar nanostructures that enhance the flexoelectric response of the system and enables the control of the ferroelectric polarization and local conductivity (resistive switching) of this functional oxide upon applying a mechanical load.

Hot off the press: Accepted paper in Nanotoxicology!

We congratulate the autos Laura Gonzalez-Moragas, Si-Ming Yu, Núria Benseny-Cases, Stephen Stürzenbaum, Anna Roig and Anna Laromaine for their recently accepted paper: Toxicogenomics of iron oxide nanoparticles in the nematode C. elegans. This research arises from a collaboration of the N&N group, the ALBA Synchrotron Light Source (MIRAS line) and the King’s College London.

Here you can read the abstract of the paper:
We present a mechanistic study of the effect of iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) in C. elegans combining a genome-wide analysis with the investigation of specific molecular markers frequently linked to nanotoxicity. The effects of two different coatings were explored: citrate, an anionic stabilizer, and bovine serum albumin, as a pre-formed protein corona. The transcriptomic study identified differentially expressed genes following an exposure to SPIONs. The expression of genes involved in oxidative stress, metal detoxification response, endocytosis, intestinal integrity and iron homeostasis was quantitatively evaluated. The role of oxidative stress was confirmed by gene expression analysis and by synchrotron Fourier Transform infrared microscopy based on the higher tissue oxidation of NP-treated animals. The observed transcriptional modulation of key signaling pathways such as MAPK and Wnt suggests that SPIONs might be endocytosed by clathrin-mediated processes, a putative mechanism of nanotoxicity which deserves further mechanistic investigations.

Toxicogenomics of iron oxide nanoparticles in the nematode C. elegans
Laura Gonzalez-Moragas, Si-Ming Yu, Núria Benseny-Cases, Stephen Stürzenbaum, Anna Roig and Anna Laromaine
Nanotoxicology, Accepted manuscript online: 15 Jun 2017. DOI: 10.1080/17435390.2017.1342011

Good job! 🙂 


Hot off the press: New accepted paper in Materials Horizons!

Good news for the N&N group!  🙂
The paper entitled: Materials and toxicological approaches to study metal and metal-oxide nanoparticles in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans has been accepted in the journal Materials Horizons. 
We congratulate the authors from the N&N group: Laura Gonzalez-Moragas, Anna Roig and Anna Laromaine. Also our collaborators 

Understanding the in vivo fate and transport of nanoparticles (NPs) is challenging, but critical. We review recent studies of metal and metal oxide NPs using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, summarizing major findings to date.
In a joint transdisciplinary effort, we highlight underutilized opportunities offered by powerful techniques lying at the intersection of mechanistic toxicology and materials science. To this end, we firstly summarize the influence of exposure conditions (media, duration, C. elegans lifestage) and NP physicochemical properties (size, coating, composition) on the response of the worm to NP treatment.
Next, we focus on the techniques employed to study NP entrance route, uptake, biodistribution and fate, emphasizing the potential of extending the toolkit available with novel and powerful techniques. Next, we review findings on several NP-induced biological responses, namely transport routes and altered molecular pathways, and illustrate the molecular biology and genetic strategies applied, critically reviewing their strengths and weaknesses.
Finally, we advocate the incorporation of a set of minimal materials and toxicological science experiments that will permit meta-analysis and synthesis of multiple studies in the future. We believe this review will facilitate coordinated integration of both well-established and underutilized approaches in mechanistic toxicology and materials science by the nanomaterials research community

Citation: L. Gonzalez-Moragas, L. L. Maurer, V. M. Harms, J. Meyer, A. Laromaine and A. Roig, Mater. Horiz., 2017, DOI: 10.1039/C7MH00166E

Accepted Manuscript in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics on hyperthermia

The article Anticipating hyperthermia efficiency of magnetic colloids by a semi-empirical model: a tool to help medical decisions(Marcela B. Fernández van Raap, Diego Fernando Coral Coral, Siming Yu, Guillermo Arturo Muñoz, Francisco Sánchez and Anna Roig) has been just accepted in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (RSC) DOI: 10.1039/C6CP08059F and is now available online. 

This paper is the result of a collaboration with the Instituto de Física La Plata (IFLP- CONICET) at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP) in Argentina



Magnetic hyperthermia, a modality that uses radio frequency heating assisted with single-domain magnetic nanoparticles, is becoming established as a powerful oncological therapy. Much improvement in nanomateriales development, to enhance their heating efficiency by tuning the magnetic colloids properties, has been achieved.

However, methodological standardization to accurately and univocally determine the colloids properties required to numerically reproduce specific heating efficiency using analytical expressions still holds.Thus, anticipating the hyperthermic performances of magnetic colloids entails high complexity due to polydispersity, aggregation and dipolar interaction always present in real materials to a more or lesser degree.

Here, by numerically simulating experimental results and using real biomedical aqueous colloids, we analyse and compared several approaches to reproduce experimental specific absorption rate values. Then, we show that relaxation time, determined using a representative mean activation energy consistently derived from four independent experiments accurately reproduces experimental heating efficiencies.

Moreover, the so-derived relaxation time can be used to extrapolate the heating performance of the magnetic nanoparticles to other field conditions within the framework of the linear response theory. We thus present a practical tool that may truly aid the design of medical decisions.


Accepted paper in Acta Biomaterialia on testing gold nanoparticles in vivo using C. elegans

The paper In vivo testing of gold nanoparticles using the Caenorhabditis elegans model organism” has been publised in Acta Biomaterialia (Available online 1 February 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2017.01.080). 

The authors of the paper are Laura González-Moragas, Pascal Berto, Clara VilchesRomain Quidant, Androniki Kolovou, Rachel Santarella-Mellwig, Yannick Schwab, Stephen Stürzenbaum, Anna Roig, and Anna Laromaine

The paper is a result of a collaboration between the NN Group at ICMAB (González-Moragas, Roig and Laromaine), the ICFO-Institut de Ciències Fotòniques (Berto, Vilches and Quidant), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, EMBL in Heidelberg, Germany (Kolovou, Santarella-Mellwig, Schwab) and King’s College London in UK (Stürzenbaum).  



Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are present in many man-made products and cosmetics, and are also used by the food and medical industries. Tight regulations regarding the use of mammalian animals for product testing can hamper the study of the specific interactions between engineered nanoparticles and biological systems. Invertebrate models, such as the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), can offer alternative approaches during the early phases of nanoparticle discovery.

Panels B and C are optical microscopy images of B) 11-nm and C) 150-nm AuNPs treated worms. 11-nm AuNPs appear pink, and 150-nm AuNPs appear blue.

Here, we thoroughly evaluated the biodistribution of 11-nm and 150-nm citrate-capped AuNPs in the model organism C. elegans at multiple scales, moving from micrometric to nanometric resolution and from the organism to cellular level. We confirmed that the nanoparticles were not able to cross the intestinal and dermal barriers. We investigated the effect of AuNPs on the survival and reproductive performance of C. elegans, and correlated these effects with the uptake of AuNPs in terms of their number, surface area, and metal mass. In general, exposure to 11-nm AuNPs resulted in a higher toxicity than the larger 150-nm AuNPs. NP aggregation inside C. elegans was determined using absorbance microspectroscopy, which allowed the plasmonic properties of AuNPs to be correlated with their confinement inside the intestinal lumen, where anatomical traits, acidic pH and the presence of biomolecules play an essential role on NP aggregation. Finally, quantitative PCR of selected molecular markers indicated that exposure to AuNPs did not significantly affect endocytosis and intestinal barrier integrity.


First accepted manuscript of 2017, in CHEMISTRY – A European Journal

A recent manuscript entitled “A recoverable ruthenium aqua complex supported onto silica particles: an efficient epoxidation catalyst“, by M. Isabel Romero, Ingrid Ferrer, Xavier Fontrodona, Anna Roig and Montserrat Rodríguez, has been accepted in CHEMISTRY – A European Journal (Accepted manuscript online: 11 January 2017; DOI: 10.1002/chem.201604463).

This article is the product of a collaboration with the Group of Catalysis and Sustainability of the University of Girona

The article reports the synthesis and catalytic performance of hybrid materials formed by a molecular ruthenium aqua complex anchored onto silica mesoporous and silica coated magnetic particles. The catalytic results and the reutilization of these hybrid materials highlight their performance in the epoxidation of alkenes.


The preparation and characterization of new complexes with a phosphonated trpy ligand (trpy-P-Et) and a bidentate pyridylpyrazole (pypz-Me) ligand, with formula [RuII(trpy-P-Et)(pypz-Me)X]n+ (X = Cl, n= 1, 2; X=H2O, n=2, 3) is described, together with the anchoring of 3 onto two types of supports: mesoporous silica particles (SP) and silica coated magnetic particles (MSP). The aqua complex 3 is easily obtained through reflux of 2 in water and displays a bielectronic Ru(IV/II) redox process. It has been anchored onto SP and MSP supports through two different synthetic strategies, yielding the heterogeneous systems SP@3 and MSP@3 that have been fully characterized by IR, UV-vis, SEM, CV and DPV. Catalytic olefin epoxidation has been tested with the molecular complex 3 and the SP@3 and MSP@3 heterogeneous counterparts, including the reuse of the heterogeneous systems. The MSP@3 material can be easily recovered by a magnet facilitating their reusability.

Download article.


Martí Gich and Adrián Carretero on a JoVE scientific video explaining how to prepare mesoporous epitaxial quartz films on silicon substrates

Martí Gich and Adrián Carretero-Genevrier publised a scientific video on the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE), a peer-reviewed scientific video journal, on December 21, 2015. Dip coating

The video, entitledPreparation of macroporous epitaxial quartz films on silicon by chemical solution deposition(A Carretero-Genevrier, M Gich, JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments), e53543-e53543, 12/21/2015, Issue 106; DOI: 10.3791/53543) presents the protocol for the preparation of piezoelectric macroporous epitaxial films of quartz on silicon by soft chemistry using dip-coating and thermal treatments in air. 

Martí Gich


This work describes the detailed protocol for preparing piezoelectric macroporous epitaxial quartz films on silicon(100) substrates. This is a three-step process based on the preparation of a sol in a one-pot synthesis which is followed by the deposition of a gel film on Si(100) substrates by evaporation induced self-assembly using the dip-coating technique and ends with a thermal treatment of the material to induce the gel crystallization and the growth of the quartz film. The formation of a silica gel is based on the reaction of a tetraethyl orthosilicate and water, catalyzed by HCl, in ethanol.

However, the solution contains two additional components that are essential for preparing mesoporous epitaxial quartz films from these silica gels dip-coated on Si. Alkaline earth ions, like Sr2+ act as glass melting agents that facilitate the crystallization of silica and in combination with cetyl trimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) amphiphilic template form a phase separation responsible of the macroporosity of the films. The good matching between the quartz and silicon cell parameters is also essential in the stabilization of quartz over other SiO2 polymorphs and is at the origin of the epitaxial growth.

Andrés Carretero

Hot off the press: new article in small! Alignment under magnetic field of mixed iron oxide/silica colloidal mesoporous particles induced by shape anisotropy

Scheme of the preparation of the mixed iron oxide/silica rod-like colloidal particles.

A new paper entitled “Alignment under magnetic field of mixed Fe2O3/SiOcolloidal mesoporous particles induced by shape anisotropy” (Jheng-Guang Li, Giulia Fornasieri, Anne Bleuzen, Martí Gich, Alexander Gloter, Frédéric Bouquet, Marianne Impéror-Clerc, DOI: 10.1002/smll.201602272) has been publised in small this last September 14, 2016. Congratulations Martí!

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