Micro/Nano Structured Materials

The research in this area focuses on developing micro and nano-scale materials for various industrial applications, including medical and dental devices, cosmetics, food, and textiles. The goal is not only to develop new materials but also to devise technologies and processes for mass production at an industrial scale, ensuring the high-quality standards that are intrinsic to their specific functional properties.

NETmix has shown considerable success in the large-scale continuous production of nano or microstructured materials. Currently, several commercial nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite (n-HAp) products manufactured using NETmix are available from the spin-off company Fluidinova. Ongoing research explores new applications for NETmix in the continuous production of micro/nanostructured materials. One notable case is microencapsulation for textile applications. NETmix enabled the continuous production of melamine-formaldehyde microcapsules, resulting in significant reduction in processing times and enhanced control over capsule size distribution. This successful industrial project was undertaken in collaboration with the multinational company Devan (

During this period, cooperation with Fluidinova continued over a project focused on producing chitosan/n-HAp scaffolds. An innovative sterilization process using supercritical CO2 was devised and the resulting scaffolds successfully demonstrated for the proliferation of osteoblastic cells. Additionally, n-HAp was used as a stabilizer for Pickering emulsions (PEs). Production in NETmix led to stable emulsions with high throughputs and smaller droplet sizes. Vitamin E-loaded PEs were produced in NETmix and digested in vitro through a simulated gastrointestinal tract (GIT). PEs stabilized by chitosan/collagen peptides (CH/CP) nanoparticles were also developed, resulting in an effective green surfactant-free alternative vehicle for the topical delivery of cannabidiol (CBD). Andreia Ribeiro received a CEEC/FCT six-year competitive grant to pursue research on PEs.

New strategies were introduced for the production and purification of L-asparaginase (ASNase). Precise control over the chemical surface of carbon-based nanomaterials enabled the immobilization and specific purification of ASNase from complex matrices, resulting in high purity and yield. The immobilized ASNase retained functionality over consecutive reaction cycles, crucial for its industrialization as a chemotherapeutic agent in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia treatment.

Major projects in this research area include: