Research Groups

RESEARCH UNIT: Smart Molecular Inorganic and Hybrid Materials

Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites Group (NN)

The NN group contributed on demonstrating uses of bacterial nanocellulose in application fields scarcely investigated so far. We also gained control over the epitaxial growth of quartz on silicon by chemical solution deposition. Finally, we acquired deeper insights on the albumin-iron oxide system.

The Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites (NN) Group is an interdisciplinary group with diverse research interests but with a focus on the rational synthesis of nanoparticles, nanocelluloses, and nanocomposites and the study of their structural-functional properties including those related to the nano/bio-interfaces. Current activities are:

  • Inorganic and hybrid nanoparticles synthesis towards green chemistry approaches.
  • Stabilization of new oxide phases and their integration as thin films on technological substrates.
  • Bacterial nanocellulose-based materials and devices.
  • Electrochemical nanoparticle-based sensors for environmental monitoring.
  • elegans as an in-vivo model to evaluate nanomaterials and their biological effect.

The group vision is to advance in the knowledge of application-oriented nanomaterials in the fields of Nanomedicine, Information Technologies, or Energy and Environment. The NN members participate actively in science outreach and gender equality initiatives.


  • Prof. Anna Roig - Research Professor
  • Dr. Martí Gich - Tenured Scientist
  • Dr. Anna Laromaine - Tenured Scientist
  • Dr. Carlos Moya - Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Dr. Vinod Vk Thalakkatukalathil - Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Irene Anton Sales - PhD Researcher
  • Wenchao Duan - PhD Researcher
  • Jan Grzelak - PhD Researcher
  • Zhongrui Luo - PhD Researcher
  • Amanda Muñoz Juan - PhD Researcher
  • Soledad Roig Sánchez - PhD Researcher
  • Sumithra Srinivasan - PhD Researcher
  • Miquel Torras - PhD Researcher
  • Qianzhe Zhang - PhD Researcher
  • Yajie Zhang - PhD Researcher
  • Ma Zheng - PhD Researcher
  • María del Mar Blanes Martínez - MSc Student
  • Natalia Martínez Reyes - MSc Student
  • Ariana Roldán - MSc Student
  • Giorgio Bonassi - Undergraduate Student
  • Remei Escudero - Undergraduate Student
  • Oriol Muñiz - Undergraduate Student
  • Nerea Murugarren - Undergraduate Student
  • Pawel Cwynar – Internship MSc Student
  • Rosa Puga - Project Manager

A biotechnology approach to sustainable nanomaterials. Center: Bacteria produce a film of pure cellulose interwoven nanofibers. A) Layered construct with TiO2, Au, Fe2O3 and Ag nanoparticles. B) BC/carbon nanotubes in a proof-of-concept thermoelectric device. C) BC/Ag nanocomposite to treat plants. D) BC for corneal wound healing.


Most of the NN research highlights published during 2019 spin around the development of application-oriented nanocellulose-based materials. Because cellulose is a non-toxic, degradable, and almost inexhaustible biopolymer it is expected to play a strategic role in replacing petroleum-based polymers and in advancing towards a circular economy. Nanocelluloses combine the properties of cellulose with the high surface area of nanomaterials. Increasing demand for cost-effective, sustainable, and high-performance materials makes nanocelluloses attractive for innovative applications in many sectors such as food packaging, flexible electronics, sensors, or biomaterials. In particular, bacterial nanocellulose (BC) produced by microbial fermentation has the same molecular formula as plant-derived cellulose but with a higher degree of polymerization, purity and crystallinity.

The group, in collaboration with several labs in Europe, exploits BC exceptional features to create advanced functional materials. The figure below illustrates some relevant developments from this period. Briefly, i) fabrication of a multinanoparticle millefeuille as a BC layered construct, ii) demonstration of the use of BC/carbon nanotubes as a sustainable thermoelectric device and as a novel component for solar energy harvesting, iii) validation of the antimicrobial and antifungal properties of BC/Ag nanocomposite in plant foliage and iv) reviewing the opportunities of BC to treat epithelial tissues, with specific focus being its use as a corneal bandage.

Importantly, three new projects started in 2019 which will also give an impetus to other activities of the group. An ERC-Consolidator grant (M. Gich) aimed at identifying new materials and components for the 5G-communications scenario, a Ramon Areces funded project “Synthetic nanoparticles as an innovative treatment for sepsis” and a RETOS project to continue the work on cellulose-based materials “Rising the impact of Selected Engineered Bacterial Cellulose Composites”.  


Nanocellulose films with multiple functional nanoparticles in confined spatial distribution
Soledad Roig-Sanchez,  Erik Jungstedt,  Irene Anton-Sales,  David C. Malaspina,  Jordi Faraudo, Lars A. Berglund, Anna Laromaine, Anna Roig 
Nanoscale Horizons, 4, 634-641 2019

Farming thermoelectric paper
Deyaa Abol-Fotouh,  Bernhard Dörling,  Osnat Zapata-Arteaga,  Xabier Rodríguez-Martínez, Andrés Gómez,  J. Sebastian Reparaz,  Anna Laromaine,  Anna Roig, Mariano Campoy-Quiles
Energy & Environmental Science, 12, 716-719, 2019

Solar Harvesting: a Unique Opportunity for Organic Thermoelectrics?
José P. Jurado, Bernhard Dörling, Osnat Zapata-Arteaga, Anna Roig, Agustín Mihi, Mariano Campoy-Quiles
Advanced Energy Materials, 9, 1902385, 2019

Enhancing localized pesticide action through the plant foliage by silver-cellulose hybrid patches
Alejandro Alonso-Diaz, Jordi Floriach-Clark, Judit Fuentes, Montserrat Capellades, Nuria Sanchez-Coll, Anna Laromaine
ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, 5, 413–419, 2019

Opportunities of Bacterial Cellulose to Treat Epithelial Tissues
Irene Anton-Sales, Uwe Beekmann, Anna Laromaine, Anna Roig, Dana Kralisch.
Current Drug Targets, 20, 8, 809, 2019

Insights into Preformed Human Serum Albumin Corona on Iron Oxide Nanoparticles: Structure, Effect of Particle Size, Impact on MRI Efficiency, and Metabolization
Carlos Moya, Remei Escudero, David C. Malaspina, Maria de la Mata, Jesús Hernández-Saz, Jordi Faraudo, Anna Roig 
ACS Applied BioMaterials, 2, 3084-3094, 2019

Tailoring the crystal growth of quartz on silicon for patterning epitaxial piezoelectric films
Qianzhe Zhang, David Sánchez-Fuentes, Andrés Gómez, Rudy Desgarceaux, Benoit Charlot, Jaume Gàzquez, Adrián Carretero-Genevrier, Martí Gich.
Nanoscale Advances, 1, 3741, 2019


Characterizing Ferroelectricity with an Atomic Force Microscopy: An All-Around Technique
Simon Martin, Brice Gautier, Nicolas Baboux, Alexei Gruverman, Adrian Carretero-Genevrier, Martí Gich, Andres Gomez In: Celano U. (eds) Electrical Atomic Force Microscopy for Nanoelectronics. NanoScience and Technology. Springer, Cham, pp 173-203

Awards and Recognitions

  • Irene Anton, Best Oral Sharp Presentation Award at the International Symposium on Bacterial Nanocellulose, 3-4 October 2019, Porto, Portugal.
  • Irene Anton, second Best Poster Award at the JPhD Meeting, 6-7 June 2019, Barcelona.
  • Irene Anton, EMBO-short term fellowship, September-December 2019, Tampere, Finland.
  • Miquel Torras, 3rd Award for an Oral Contribution at E-MRS Fall Meeting, 6th-9th September 2019, Warsaw, Poland. Symposium Q Nanoparticles: Advances in Synthesis, Characterization, Theoretical Modelling, and Applications.
  • Miquel Torras, Extraordinary Award for his Master at the University of Barcelona (UB), 29th January 2019. MSc in Applied Materials Chemistry (2016-2017).
  • Amanda Muñoz, winner of the #100QSD Twitter Science Microstories Contest
  • Amanda Muñoz, Premio Excelencia académica en Ciencia, Gobierno de La Rioja, 27/12/2019
  • Remei Escudero, 3rd prize of SCN2 Dresselhaus Awards. Awards, organized by the Catalan Society of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (SCN2). The event took place on 17 December 2019 the UAB.
  • Anna Roig, Visiting Professor at the Biomedical Engineering Department of Jinan University (Guangzhou, China) 9-20 May 2019.
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