Biophysics and Soft Matter Physics

Concerned with the study of molecules formed by a large number of atoms. The first aims to identify general mechanisms underlying biological processes and seeks to understand, for example, how molecular machines work, how neurons communicate with each other and how plants use solar energy to produce energy-rich substances. The second studies substances such as colloids, polymer solutions, emulsions and foams that do not fall into the categories into which condensed matter (solid, liquid or gaseous) is traditionally categorised. The knowledge derived from both disciplines has laid the foundation for numerous applications in technology, biomedicine, pharmaceuticals and food.

Biophysics and Soft Matter Physics in Parma

  • studies of the structure, dynamics and functional properties of protein and membrane systems, in particular haemoproteins, photosensitisers for antibacterial and anticancer photodynamic therapy, biosensors for superresolution imaging, bacterial photoreceptors for optogenetic applications, collagen in relation to ageing processes and proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases. The studies are conducted using both experimental (absorption spectroscopy, fluorescence, FTIR, laser flash photolysis) and computational techniques (molecular dynamics simulations and molecular docking), with applications in the pharmacological and biomedical fields.
  • Structure and dynamics of nanostructured and disordered systems, particularly amorphous and/or low-dimensional ones such as surfaces and interfaces. The main applications are in food science, biotechnology, biomedicine and pharmaceuticals. These searches make extensive use of microscopy (SEM/EDX, AFM, Epifluo) and spectroscopic techniques (X-ray and neutron scattering, XPCS, confocal micro Raman, fluorescence).
  • Development of neuromorphic systems based on deterministic and stochastic networks, inspired by biological systems and their information processing method, which are interfaced with living systems.