## Publications

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2022
Paiva, TG, Zanatta M, Cabrita EJ, Bernardes CES, Corvo MC.  2022.  Journal of Molecular Liquids. 345:117810. AbstractWebsite

{The mechanism of cellulose dissolution in ionic liquid (IL)/dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) solvent systems has attracted much attention due to the possible replacement of synthetic materials. However, the solvent behaviour is not completely understood. This work has found an explanation for the solvent behaviour in cellulose dissolution, considering the almost unavoidable presence of the water. Ternary {[}C(4)mim] Cl/DMSO/H2O mixtures were studied with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance experiments and molecular dynamics simulations to explore IL/molecular solvents interactions and disclose the water interactions in these complex media. Titration of binary and ternary solvent systems with water and DMSO disclosed a relation between water's proton chemical shift and the molar fraction of the mixture components, creating an unprecedent theory to predict the cellulose solvation ability. A working range{''} for IL/DMSO/H2O ratio was observed, tested in cellulose dissolution, and rationalized using cellobiose interaction. Within this solvent ratio, the interactions between components are maximized, being switched on, while out of the range, the interactions are no longer detected. (C) 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.}

2021
Barrulas, RV, Zanatta M, Casimiro T, Corvo MC.  2021.  CHEMICAL ENGINEERING JOURNAL. 411:128528. AbstractWebsite

{Over the past few years porous materials have become a topic of intense research. Porous poly(ionic liquid)s combine the porous architecture with intrinsic ionic liquids properties. In all research areas, the quest for new and improved materials has targeted functional materials with enhanced specificity and efficiency towards the final application. The application of porous materials ranges from sensing, protein separation, solid-phase extraction, catalysis, to CO2 capture and reuse. Recently, the design, synthesis, and porosity control of poly (ionic liquid)s have been attempted through strategies that include classic polymerization techniques as well as molecular imprinting and aerogels production. This review aims at providing the recent advances on porous poly (ionic liquid)s, giving a critical perspective about the works in which key requirements for porosity induction are discussed. Several applications that rely on molecular interactions between the porous material and target compounds are presented, focusing mainly on CO2 capture and reuse, along with some challenges that the scientific community in this field need to be aware of.}

Inocencio, S, Cordeiro T, Matos I, Danede F, Sotomayor JC, Fonseca IM, Correia NT, Corvo MC, Dionisio M.  2021.  MICROPOROUS AND MESOPOROUS MATERIALS. 310:110541. AbstractWebsite

{Aiming to rationalize the release profile of an incorporated pharmaceutical drug in terms of its mobility, driven by guest-host interactions, the poorly water-soluble ibuprofen drug was loaded in a mesoporous inorganic silica matrix with unmodified (MCM-41) and modified surface (MCM-41sil) by post-synthesis silylation, both having pore sizes similar to 3 nm. The single calorimetric detection of a broad glass transition step for both ibuprofen com-posites indicates full drug amorphization, confirmed by the only appearance of an amorphous halo in the powder XRD patterns. Moreover, a gradient profile is disclosed by the heat flux derivative plot in the glass transition, in coherence with the thermogravimetric profile that shows a multi-step decomposition trace for confined ibuprofen in these matrixes. While identical guest dynamics, as probed by dielectric relaxation spectroscopy, were found in both dehydrated composites, a significant molecular population with faster relaxation exists in the hydrated state for the drug inside the unmodified matrix. This was rationalized as the concurrence of true confinement effects, which manifest under nanometer dimensions, and greater water affinity of the unmodified matrix, forcing the drug molecules to be placed mostly in the pore core. Finite size effects are also felt in both dehydrated composites, however guest-host interactions give origin to a dominant population with slowed down mobility that governs the overall guest dynamics. In spite of an inferior number of active sites for drug adsorption in the silylated matrix, a faster ibuprofen delivery in phosphate buffer (pH = 6.8) was observed when the drug is released from unmodified MCM-41 in the hydrated state. Therefore, our results suggest that a relevant role is played by water molecules, which impair a strong guest adsorption in the host surface more efficiently than the limited surface modification, influence the higher ratio of a faster population in the pore core and facilitate the diffusion of the aqueous releasing media inside pores.}

Cordeiro, R, Beira MJ, Cruz C, Figueirinhas JL, Corvo MC, Almeida PL, Rosatella AA, Afonso CAM, Daniel CI, Sebastiao PJ.  2021.  International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 22:706., Number {2} AbstractWebsite

{Understanding the behavior of a chemical compound at a molecular level is fundamental, not only to explain its macroscopic properties, but also to enable the control and optimization of these properties. The present work aims to characterize a set of systems based on the ionic liquids {[}Aliquat]{[}Cl] and {[}Aliquat]{[}FeCl4] and on mixtures of these with different concentrations of DMSO by means of H-1 NMR relaxometry, diffusometry and X-ray diffractometry. Without DMSO, the compounds reveal locally ordered domains, which are large enough to induce order fluctuation as a significant relaxation pathway, and present paramagnetic relaxation enhancement for the {[}Aliquat]{[}Cl] and {[}Aliquat]{[}FeCl4] mixture. The addition of DMSO provides a way of tuning both the local order of these systems and the relaxation enhancement produced by the tetrachloroferrate anion. Very small DMSO volume concentrations (at least up to 1%) lead to enhanced paramagnetic relaxation without compromising the locally ordered domains. Larger DMSO concentrations gradually destroy these domains and reduce the effect of paramagnetic relaxation, while solvating the ions present in the mixtures. The paramagnetic relaxation was explained as a correlated combination of inner and outer-sphere mechanisms, in line with the size and structure differences between cation and anion. This study presents a robust method of characterizing paramagnetic ionic systems and obtaining a consistent analysis for a large set of samples having different co-solvent concentrations.}

2020
Silva, W, Zanatta M, Ferreira AS, Corvo MC, Cabrita EJ.  2020.  International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 20:7745., Number {20} AbstractWebsite

{In the last few years, ionic liquids (ILs) have been the focus of extensive studies concerning the relationship between structure and properties and how this impacts their application. Despite a large number of studies, several topics remain controversial or not fully answered, such as: the existence of ion pairs, the concept of free volume and the effect of water and its implications in the modulation of ILs physicochemical properties. In this paper, we present a critical review of state-of-the-art literature regarding structure-property relationship of ILs, we re-examine analytical theories on the structure-property correlations and present new perspectives based on the existing data. The interrelation between transport properties (viscosity, diffusion, conductivity) of IL structure and free volume are analysed and discussed at a molecular level. In addition, we demonstrate how the analysis of microscopic features (particularly using NMR-derived data) can be used to explain and predict macroscopic properties, reaching new perspectives on the properties and application of ILs.}

Mirante, F, Alves AC, Juliao D, Almeida PL, Gago S, Valenca R, Ribeiro JC, de Castro B, Granadeiro CM, Balula SS.  2020.  Fuel. 259:116213. AbstractWebsite

A novel composite has been prepared through the immobilization of the Keggin sandwich-type {[}Sm (PMo11O39)(2)](11-) anion (SmPOM) on large-pore silica spheres previously functionalized with trimethylammonium groups (TMA). The resulting SmPOM@TMA-LPMS material has been evaluated as heterogeneous catalyst in a biphasic desulfurization 1:1 diesel/extraction solvent system using H2O2 as oxidant. Preliminary experiments were conducted with different extraction solvents, acetonitrile and {[}BMIM]PF6 ionic liquid. The optimized extractive and catalytic oxidative desulfurization system (ECODS) with {[}BMIM]PF6 was able to reach complete sulfur removal from a model diesel containing 2100 ppm S in just 60 min (10 min of initial extraction + 50 min of catalytic step). The reutilization of catalyst and extraction phase has been successfully performed without loss of desulfurization efficiency in consecutive cycles, turning the process more sustainable and cog-effective. The remarkable results with simulated diesel have motivated the application of the catalyst in the desulfurization of untreated real diesel and 74% of efficiency was achieved after only 2 h for three consecutive cycles.

Barrulas, V, R, Nunes AD, Sequeira SO, Casimiro MH, Corvo MC.  2020.  International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation. 152:104996. AbstractWebsite

{Fungal stains affect documents and artworks on paper all over the world, diminishing their chemical stability and compromising their readability. The present paper studies the suitability of agarose and gellan gum hydrogels to remove fungal stains from paper, using paper impregnated with alizarin as a model system to simulate the most common colorant molecules produced by fungi - polyketide quinones. The effect of pH variation on the efficacy of the gels was evaluated by UV spectrometry. The results show that the cleaning efficacy of the gels greatly depends on the gel matrix, the colorant molecules, and the pH balance of the process.}

Ribeiro, SO, Almeida PL, Pires J, de Castro B, Balula SS.  2020.  Microporous and Mesoporous Materials. 302:110193. AbstractWebsite

Novel material catalysts based in the active zinc-substituted polyoxotungstate ({[}PW11Zn(H2O)(39)](5-), abbreviated as PW11Zn) were efficiently used in the oxidative desulfurization of real and model diesels. These active catalytic center was strategically immobilized in a less hydrophilic periodic mesoporous organosilicas (PMOs), containing ethane-bridge (PMOE) and benzene-bridge (PMOB) walls, functionalized with (3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane (aptes). The efficiency of the novel catalytic composites (PW11Zn@aptesPMOE and PM11Zn@aptesPMOB) was studied under oxidative desulfurization system (CODS) without the presence of an extraction solvent and also using a biphasic (diesel/extraction solvent) oxidative desulfurization system (ECODS). Both composites presented higher desulfurization efficiency under the solvent-free system, reaching ultra-low levels of sulfur compounds after only 1 h and using low ratio of H2O2/S = 4. The catalysts could be recycled without loss of activity for ten consecutive cycles. However, after the first desulfurization cycle complete desulfurization was achieved within only 30 min using PW11Zn@aptesPMOE composite. Also, the structure of PW it Zn@aptesPMOE demonstrated to be more stable than PW11Zn@aptesPMOB, probably due to the occurrence of some PW11Zn leaching from the PMOB surface, probably caused by the lower interaction of PW11Zn with the benzene-bridge PMOB wall. The most robust catalyst PW11Zn@aptesPMOE was used to desulfurize a real diesel achieving 75.9% of desulfurization after 2 h. The catalyst was further recycled with success to treat real diesel.

Adeoye, O, Conceição J, Serra PA, da Silva AB, Duarte N, Guedes RC, Corvo MC, Aguiar-Ricardo A, Jicsinszky L, Casimiro T, Cabral-Marques H.  2020.  Carbohydrate Polymers. 227:115287.: Elsevier AbstractWebsite

Lopinavir (LPV) is currently used in combination with ritonavir for the clinical management of HIV infections due to its limited oral bioavailability. Herein, we report the application of an in silico method to study cyclodextrin (CyD) host-guest molecular interaction with LPV for the rational selection of the best CyD for developing a CyD based LPV delivery system. The predicted CyD, a (2-hydroxy)propyl-gamma derivative with high degree of substitution (HP17-γ-CyD) was synthesized and comparatively evaluated with γ-CyD and the commercially available HP-γ-CyD. All complexes were prepared by supercritical assisted spray drying (SASD) and co-evaporation (CoEva) at molar ratios (1:1 and 1:2); and afterwards fully characterized. Results indicate a higher LPV amorphization and solubilization ability of HP17-γ-CyD. The SASD processing technology also enhanced LPV solubilization and release from complexes. The application of in silico methodologies is a feasible approach for the rational and/or deductive development of CyD drug delivery systems.

dos Santos, LM, Bernard FL, Polesso BB, Pinto IS, Frankenberg CC, Corvo MC, Almeida PL, Cabrita E, Menezes S, Einloft S.  2020.  Journal of Environmental Management. 268:110340. AbstractWebsite

CO2 separation from natural gas is considered to be a crucial strategy to mitigate global warming problems, meet product specification, pipeline specs and other application specific requirements. Silica xerogels (SX) are considered to be potential materials for CO2 capture due to their high specific surface area. Thus, a series of silica xerogels functionalized with imidazolium, phosphonium, ammonium and pyridinium-based room-temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) were synthesized. The synthesized silica xerogels were characterized by NMR, helium pycnometry, DTA-TG, BET, SEM and TEM. CO2 sorption, reusability and CO2/CH4 selectivity were assessed by the pressure-decay technique. Silica xerogels containing IL demonstrated advantages compared to RTILs used as separation solvents in CO2 capture processes including higher CO2 sorption capacity and faster sorption/desorption. Using fluorinated anion for functionalization of silica xerogels leads to a higher affinity for CO2 over CH4. The best performance was obtained by SX- [bmim] [TF2N] (223.4 mg CO2/g mg/g at 298.15 K and 20 bar). Moreover, SX- [bmim] [TF2N] showed higher CO2 sorption capacity as compared to other reported sorbents. CO2 sorption and CO2/CH4 selectivity results were submitted to an analysis of variance and the means compared using Tukey's test (5%).

Duczinski, R, Polesso BB, Bernard FL, Ferrari HZ, Almeida PL, Corvo MC, Cabrita EJ, Menezes S, Einloft S.  2020.  Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering. AbstractWebsite

Imidazolium-based ionic liquids (ILs) with different cation alkyl chain ([i-C5mim] or [C4mim]) and inorganic anions ([Cl−], [Tf2N−], [PF6−] and [DCA−]) were synthesized and immobilized in commercial mesoporous silica. The synthesized supported ILs (SILs) were characterized using NMR, FTIR, TGA, BET, SEM and TEM. CO2 sorption capacity, reusability and CO2/N2 selectivity were assessed by the pressure-decay technique. The effects of IL concentration, cation and anion chemical structure in CO2 sorption capacity and CO2/N2 separation performance were evaluated. Tests evidenced that the presence of branching on the cation alkyl side chain increases CO2/N2 selectivity. The immobilization of the IL [i-C5TPIm][Cl] on mesoporous silica in different concentrations (50, 20, 10 and 5 %) revealed that lower IL concentration results in higher CO2 sorption capacity. Immobilization of ILs containing fluorinated anions at low concentrations in the mesoporous silica support may promote the improvement of the CO2/N2 selectivity without interfering on CO2 sorption capacity of the original support. CO2 sorption capacity value shown by sample SIL-5 % - [i-C5TPIm][Tf2N] (79.50 ± 0.70 mg CO2  g-1) was close to the value obtained for the pristine mesoporous silica (81.70 ± 2.20 mg CO2 g-1) and the selectivity (4.30 ± 0.70) was more than twice of the one obtained for the support alone (2.32 ± 0.4). Recycle tests demonstrated that the ILs immobilized in mesoporous silica samples are stable, providing a new option to be used in CO2 capture processes.

Zanatta, M, Lopes M, Cabrita EJ, Bernardes CES, Corvo M.  2020.  Journal of CO2 Utilization. 41:101225.: Elsevier AbstractWebsite

The mitigation of climate change effects requires the use of alternative materials and technologies to control CO2 atmospheric levels through its capture, storage and use. In this field, the current work presents the evaluation of two poly(ionic liquid)s (PILs) (poly-1-vinyl-3-ethylimidazolium acetate and hydroxide) combined with free ionic liquid (IL) 1-butyl-3-methylimidolium acetate (BMI·OAc) for CO2 capture. The sorption capacity of PIL@IL composites was evaluated under 20 bar of CO2 at 298 K. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy allowed quantification of CO2 sorption (physisorption and/or chemisorption) and in situ study of the PIL−CO2 interaction mechanism. NMR in combination with Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations suggested a 3D organization of PIL composites, maintaining a similar organization to ILs. Also, the use of aqueous solutions of PIL@IL composites was tested, identifying the optimum conditions for water activation (intrinsic water trapped inside IL structure) for chemisorption. As our main contribution, we demonstrate the possibility to control the sorption pathway towards CO2 physisorption, or CO2 conversion (chemisorption) through carbonation (HCO3−/CO32-) according to the PIL/IL ratio, ions structure and water amount. The use of PIL/IL composites is a promising advance for further CO2 reuse approaching a biomimetic carbonation process.

Mouquinho, A, Corvo MC, Almeida PL, Feio GM, Sotomayor J.  2020.  Liquid Crystals. 47:522–530., Number 4: Taylor & Francis AbstractWebsite

The relationship between linear chain (ethylene oxide units) length of polymerisable monomers with morphology, electro-optical properties and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy of the corresponding polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) films was investigated. The preferred liquid crystal molecule alignment and permanent memory effect of PDLC were greatly influenced by the length of the molecular chain of prepolymers to be incorporated as a polymer matrix. By increasing the number of ethylene oxide in prepolymer chain and maintaining the number of functionalities (polymerisable groups in each monomer molecule), the permanent memory effect of PDLC increased, as proved by solid-state 13C NMR spectroscopy.

Zanatta, M, Simon NM, Dupont J.  2020.  ChemSusChem. 13:3101-3109. AbstractWebsite

Ionic liquids (ILs) are among the most studied and promising materials for selective CO2 capture and transformation. The high CO2 sorption capacity associated with the possibility to activate this rather stable molecule through stabilization of ionic/radical species or covalent interactions either with the cation or anion has opened new avenues for CO2 functionalization. However, recent reports have demonstrated that another simpler and plausible pathway is also involved in the sorption/activation of CO2 by ILs associated with basic anions. Bare ILs or IL solutions contain almost invariable significant amounts of water and through interaction with CO2 generate carbonates/bicarbonates rather than carbamic acids or amidates. In these cases, the IL acts as a base and not a nucleophile and yields buffer‐like solutions that can be used to shift the equilibrium toward acid products in different CO2 reutilization reactions. In this Minireview, the emergence of IL buffer‐like solutions as a new reactivity paradigm in CO2 capture and activation is described and analyzed critically, mainly through the evaluation of NMR data.

2019
Ribeiro, SO, Granadeiro CM, Almeida PL, Pires J, Valenca R, Campos-Martin JM, Ribeiro JC, de Castro B, Balula SS.  2019.  Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. 58:18540-18549., Number {40} AbstractWebsite

{The Keggin phosphotungstate (PW12) and its zinc derivative (PW11Zn) were tested as oxidative catalysts for desulfurization processes using simulated and real diesels. These compounds were used as homogeneous catalysts, while the corresponding SBA-15 composites were used as heterogeneous catalysts. The comparison of their catalytic performance demonstrated that the zinc-substituted polyoxo-metalate is more efficient than the plenary PW12 structure. Additionally, using the heterogeneous PW11Zn@aptesSBA-15, the sustainability and catalytic efficiency was largely improved, allowing the total sulfur removal from model diesel after 1 h using a small amount of oxidant (H2O2/S = 4) under an oxidative solvent-free system. The desulfurization of real diesels was performed under similar conditions, achieving 87.8% of efficiency using the PW11Zn@aptesSBA-15 catalyst. Furthermore, the catalyst maintained its activity over consecutive desulfurization cycles. The cost-effective operational conditions achieved with PW11Zn@aptesSBA-15 turn this into a promising material to be used in an industrial scale to treat diesel.}

Echeverria, C, Almeida PL, Figueirinhas JL, Godinho MH.  2019.  POLYMER. 180:121675. AbstractWebsite

Hydroxypropylcellulose (HPC) is an important cellulose derivative that has been widely studied due to its water-solubility, biocompatibility and biodegradability, but even more significant due to its ability to form liquid crystalline phases. HPC is able to form, under certain conditions, chiral nematic (cholesteric) structures in water solutions. Previous work confirmed that films prepared from liquid crystalline HPC/water solutions (LC-HPC) gave rise to anisotropic networks, with similar mechanical and optical characteristics of Liquid Crystalline Elastomers (LCE), capable to respond to humidity. It was also demonstrated that the incorporation of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) significantly improved the actuator responsiveness. In the work presented herein, we investigate how the incorporation of carbon nanotubes affects the flow behavior of LC-HPC solutions, and thus the structure-properties relationship, through a detailed Rheo-NMR study. As observed from the results, when shearing the samples, the degree of order reached (maximum quadrupolar peak splitting) by LC-HPC solutions increases with CNT content. Regarding the subsequent relaxation process, only the incorporation of 0.01 wt% of CNTs (lowest content) contributes to a faster recovery of cholesteric structure.

Mirante, F, Gomes N, Branco LC, Cunha-Silva L, Almeida PL, Pillinger M, Gago S, Granadeiro CM, Balula SS.  2019.  Microporous and Mesoporous Materials. 275:163-171. AbstractWebsite

Mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) strategically functionalized were used to immobilize a homogeneous polyoxomolybdate catalyst {[}PMo12O40](3-) (PMo12), active but unstable. The PMo12@TBA-MSN composite (where TBA refers to surface-tethered tributylammonium groups) conferred high stability to the polyoxomolybdate catalytic center and displayed an increase in efficiency for the oxidative desulfurization (ECODS) of a diesel simulant under sustainable conditions (using H2O2 as oxidant and an ionic liquid, {[}BMIM]PF6, as solvent). Continuous reuse of the catalyst and ionic liquid solvent in consecutive ECODS cycles was successfully performed, avoiding the production of residual wastes. The performance of the PMo12@TBA-MSN catalyst improved upon its reuse, leading to complete desulfurization of a multicomponent model diesel containing benzothiophene derivatives after just 1 h of the catalytic stage of the process. The robust nature of the supported catalyst was indicated by characterization of the recovered solid which showed retention of the structural and chemical integrities.

Ribeiro, SO, Granadeiro CM, Almeida PL, Pires J, Capel-Sanchez MC, Campos-Martin JM, Gago S, de Castro B, Balula SS.  2019.  Catalysis Today. 333:226-236., Number {SI} AbstractWebsite

Strategic polyoxometalate Keggin-type structural modification was performed to increase the oxidative catalytic performance to desulfurize model and real diesels. The most active lacunar structure {[}PW11O39](7-) (PW11) showed to complete desulfurize a simulated diesel after 60 min at 70 degrees C. Its application as homogeneous catalyst using a biphasic system 1: 1 diesel/acetonitrile needed to use an excess of oxidant (ratio H2O2/S = 8). The immobilization of the PW11 on amine-functionalized SBA-15 supports originated two heterogeneous catalysts PW11@aptesSBA-15 and PW11@tbaSBA-15. The best results were attained with the PW11@aptesSBA-15 catalyst showing identical oxidative desulfurization performance as the homogeneous analogue. As advantage, this heterogeneous catalyst promotes the complete desulfurization of simulated diesel using a solvent-free system, i.e. without the need of acetonitrile use. On the other hand, the same desulfurization efficiency could be achieved using half the amount of oxidant (H2O2/S = 4). The oxidative desulfurization of the real diesel achieved a remarkable 83.4% of efficiency after just 2 h. The recycling capacity of PW11@aptesSBA-15 catalyst was confirmed for eight consecutive cycles using the biphasic and the solvent-free systems. Its stability investigation demonstrates to be higher under the solvent-free system than the biphasic system, without practically any occurrence of PW11 leaching in the first case. On the other hand, the Venturello peroxocomplex {[}PO4\{W(O-2)(2)\}(4)](3-), recognized as active intermediate in the homogeneous biphasic system, was not identified in the heterogeneous catalytic systems.

Almeida, APC, Querciagrossa L, Silva PES, Goncalves F, Canejo JP, Almeida PL, Godinho MH, Zannoni C.  2019.  Soft Matter. 15:2838-2847., Number {13} AbstractWebsite

Among the movements observed in some cellulosic structures produced by plants are those that involve the dispersion and burial of seeds, as for example in Erodium from the Geraniaceae plant family. Here we report on a simple and efficient strategy to isolate and tune cellulose-based hygroscopic responsive materials from Erodium awns' dead tissues. The stimuli-responsive material isolated forms left-handed (L) or right-handed (R) helical birefringent transparent ribbons in the wet state that reversibly change to R helices when the material dries. The humidity-driven motion of dead tissues is most likely due to a composite material made of cellulose networks of fibrils imprinted by the plant at the nanoscale, which reinforces a soft wall polysaccharide matrix. The inversion of the handedness is explained using computational simulations considering filaments that contract and expand asymmetrically. The awns of Erodium are known to present hygroscopic movements, forming R helices in the dry state, but the possibility of actuating chirality via humidity suggests that these cellulose-based skeletons, which do not require complicated lithography and intricate deposition techniques, provide a diverse range of applications from intelligent textiles to micro-machines.

Zanatta, M, Simon NM, dos Santos FP, Corvo MC, Cabrita EJ, Dupont J.  2019.  Angewandte Chemie International Edition. AbstractWebsite

The preorganization and cooperation mechanism of imide‐based ionic liquids reported in a recent Communication was evocated to rationalize the extremely high gravimetric CO2 capture displayed by these fluids. An analysis of the reported spectroscopic evidences together with additional experiments led to the proposition of an alternative, simpler, and feasible mechanism involving the formation of bicarbonate.

Khili, F, Borges J, Almeida PL, Boukherroub R, Omrani AD.  2019.  Waste and Biomass Valorization. 10:1913–1927. AbstractWebsite

The aim of the present study is to investigate the effect of the hydrolysis process on the properties of nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) isolated from different precursors and the subsequent use of the extracted NCC for the reduction of graphene oxide (GO). The raw materials (almond and peanut shells) chosen for the isolation of cellulose were selected on the basis of their abundance and their poorly investigation in the production of NCC. Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) was firstly extracted by alkali and bleaching treatments, then hydrolyzed under different processes to produce NCC polymorphs with structure I (NCC-I) and NCC structure II (NCC-II). The Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, the X-ray diffraction (XRD) and the 13C NMR studies of the alkali and bleached products confirmed the formation of cellulose type I with high purity and good crystallinity, while scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed micrometric fibers with lengths reaching 80 µm. Sulfuric acid treatment of these microfibers results in NCC type I or II, depending on the hydrolysis process. SEM of the NCC samples exhibited nanorods with diameter and aspect ratio in the range of 20–40 and 20–25 nm, respectively. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) of the MCC and NCC products indicated stable materials with a degradation temperature reaching 240 and 200 °C for MCC and NCC, respectively. The other part of our work concerns the use of the obtained cellulose nanocrystals (type II) for the preparation of reduced graphene oxide composite (NCC/RGO), to demonstrate the reducing properties of the isolated NCCII.

Ribeiro, SO, Granadeiro CM, Corvo MC, Pires J, Campos-Martin JM, de Castro B, Balula SS.  2019.  Frontiers in Chemistry. 7:756.: Frontiers AbstractWebsite

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ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE
Front. Chem., 14 November 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fchem.2019.00756
Mesoporous Silica vs. Organosilica Composites to Desulfurize Diesel
Susana O. Ribeiro1, Carlos M. Granadeiro1, Marta C. Corvo2, João Pires3, José M. Campos-Martin4, Baltazar de Castro1 and Salete S. Balula1*
1LAQV-REQUIMTE, Departamento de Química e Bioquímica, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade Do Porto, Porto, Portugal
2CENIMAT/I3N, Departamento de Ciência dos Materiais, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Caparica, Portugal
3Faculdade de Ciências, Centro de Química e Bioquímica and CQE, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
4Grupo de Energía y Química Sostenibles (EQS), Instituto de Catálisis y Petroleoquímica, CSIC, Madrid, Spain
The monolacunary Keggin-type [PW11O39]7− (PW11) heteropolyanion was immobilized on porous framework of mesoporous silicas, namely SBA-15 and an ethylene-bridged periodic mesoporous organosilica (PMOE). The supports were functionalized with a cationic group (N-trimethoxysilypropyl-N, N, N-trimethylammonium, TMA) for the successful anchoring of the anionic polyoxometalate. The PW11@TMA-SBA-15 and PW11@TMA-PMOE composites were evaluated as heterogeneous catalysts in the oxidative desulfurization of a model diesel. The PW11@TMA-SBA-15 catalyst showed a remarkable desulfurization performance by reaching ultra-low sulfur levels (<10 ppm) after only 60 min using either a biphasic extractive and catalytic oxidative desulfurization (ECODS) system (1:1 MeCN/diesel) or a solvent-free catalytic oxidative desulfurization (CODS) system. Furthermore, the mesoporous silica composite was able to be recycled for six consecutive cycles without any apparent loss of activity. The promising results have led to the application of the catalyst in the desulfurization of an untreated real diesel supplied by CEPSA (1,335 ppm S) using the biphasic system. The system has proved to be a highly efficient process by reaching desulfurization values higher than 90% for real diesel during three consecutive cycles.

Lopes, MM, Barrulas RV, Paiva TG, Ferreira ASD, Zanatta M, Corvo MC.  2019.  Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. : IntechOpen Abstract

Ionic liquids have been on the spotlight of chemical research field in the last decades. Their physical properties (low vapor pressure, thermal stability, and conductivity) and the possibility of fine tuning make them a versatile class of compounds for a wide range of applications, such as catalysis, energy, and material sciences. Ionic liquids can establish multiple intermolecular interactions with solutes such as electrostatic, van der Waals, or hydrogen bonds. The prospect of designing ionic liquid structures toward specific applications has attracted the attention to these alternative solvents. However, their rational design demands a molecular detailed view, and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance is a unique and privileged technique for this purpose, as it provides atomic resolution and at the same time enables the study of dynamic information. In this chapter, we provide an overview about the application of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy techniques as a methodology for the rational design of ionic liquids as solvents for small organic compounds, CO2 capture, and polymers such as cellulose focusing mainly in the last 10 years.

Barrulas, RV, Paiva TG, Corvo M.  2019.  Separation and Purification Technology. : Elsevier AbstractWebsite

Extracts from plants have considerable significance as bioactive compounds with several pharmacological applications. Polyphenols have attracted the attention as anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative materials. Nonetheless, the amount of these compounds in the extracts is typically very low. Consequently, green extraction techniques with higher efficiency for phenolic compounds are of paramount importance. Ionic liquids (ILs), which are also known as designer solvents can be used to extract polyphenols, however the search for ideal solvents is mostly done by trial and error. In this work, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is used to study the profile of ILs molecular interactions with model compounds that mimic polyphenols. The ILs that exhibit the strongest molecular interactions were proven to have the highest efficiency when extracting polyphenols from matcha Japanese green tea, known to be extremely rich in these compounds. Both the IL cation and anion have an influence on the solvent behaviour. The best IL solvents for matcha polyphenols were imidazolium derivatives with shorter alkyl side chains and weakly basic anions such as tricyanomethanide, dicyanamide and triflate. Thus, the NMR approach avoids an exhaustive testing and allows the rational selection of the best ILs for the extraction.

Paiva, T, Echeverria C, Godinho MH, Almeida PL, Corvo M.  2019.  European Polymer Journal. : Elsevier AbstractWebsite

The demand for better cellulose solvents has driven the search for new and improved materials to enable the processing of this polysaccharide. Ionic liquids have been debated for a long time as interesting alternatives, but the molecular details on the solubilization mechanism have been a matter of controversy. Herein, for the first time, the structure and dynamics of hydroxypropylcellulose (HPC) liquid crystal solutions were probed in the presence of imidazolium ionic liquids (ILs), conjugating rheological measurements with magnetic resonance spectroscopy. This study provides a characterization of the solutions macroscopic behaviour, where the liquid crystalline (LC) properties were maintained. Using ILs with different side chain lengths, the influence of the hydrophobic IL domain in the solvation abilities of ILs towards a cellulose derived polymer was accessed, providing experimental evidence on these interactions.

Mirante, F, Gomes N, Corvo MC, Gago S, Balula SS.  2019.  Polyhedron. 170:762–770.: Pergamon AbstractWebsite

This work compares the stability and the catalytic efficiency of different ionic liquid phosphomolybdates ([BPy]3[PMo12O40] and [BMIM]3[PMo12O40]) with a cationic (propylpyridinium) functionalized mesoporous silica nanoparticle composite (PMo12O40@PPy-MSN). These were used as solid catalysts for the oxidative desulfurization of a multicomponent model diesel using hydrogen peroxide as oxidant and a polar immiscible extraction solvent. Ionic liquid ([BMIM][PF6] was successfully used as solvent to extract sulfur compounds from model diesel. The ionic liquid phosphomolybdates showed partial solubility in the ionic liquid phase, occurring some decomposition of their Keggin structure in the soluble reaction media, probably caused by their interaction with oxidant. On the other hand, the phosphomolybdate composite PMo12O40@PPy-MSN presented high structural stability and only negligible leaching occurrence after various consecutive reaction cycles. The model diesel was near complete desulfurized after 3 h and consecutive desulfurization cycles were performed without loss of activity. Therefore, the immobilization of Keggin phosphomolybdate structure [PMo12O40]3− using cationic propylpyridinium silica nanoparticle is an assertive strategy to produce stable and active heterogeneous catalysts.

Queda, F, Covas G, Silva T, Santos CA, Bronze MR, Cañada FJ, Corvo MC, Filipe SR, Marques MMB.  2019.  Carbohydrate Polymers. 224:115133.: Elsevier AbstractWebsite

An unprecedented approach towards oligosaccharides containing N-acetylglucosamine-N-acetylmuramic (NAG-NAM) units was developed. These novel bacterial cell wall surrogates were obtained from chitosan via a top down approach involving both chemical and enzymatic reactions. The chemical modification of chitosan using a molecular clamp based strategy, allowed obtaining N-acetylglucosamine-N-acetylmuramic (NAG-NAM) containing oligomers. Intercalation of NAM residues was confirmed through the analysis of oligosaccharide fragments from enzymatic digestion and it was found that this route affords NAG-NAM containing oligosaccharides in 33% yield. These oligosaccharides mimic the carbohydrate basic skeleton of most bacterial cell surfaces. The oligosaccharides prepared are biologically relevant and will serve as a platform for further molecular recognition studies with different receptors and enzymes of both bacterial cell wall and innate immune system. This strategy combining both chemical modification and enzymatic digestion provides a novel and simple route for an easy access to bacterial cell wall fragments – biologically important targets.

2018
Mirante, F, Dias L, Silva M, Ribeiro SO, Corvo MC, de Castro B, Granadeiro CM, Balula SS.  2018.  Catalysis Communications. 104:1–8.: Elsevier AbstractWebsite

The heterogenization of the highly active monovacant polyoxotungstate ([PW11O39]7 −, abbreviated as PW11) was achieved by preparing the corresponding long chain quaternary ammonium salt (ODA7PW11, ODA = CH3(CH2)17(CH3)3N). The complete cation exchange confers total heterogeneity to the monovacant catalyst while keeping its oxidative catalytic activity. In fact, the heterogeneous catalyst allowed for the complete desulfurization of a multicomponent model diesel (2000 ppm S) after 40 min of reaction, conciliating extraction (using BMIMPF6 solvent) and oxidation (ECODS process using H2O2 oxidant). The heterogeneous catalyst has shown a superior desulfurization performance when compared with the homogeneous quaternary ammonium TBAPW11 catalyst (TBA = (C4H9)4 N). Both hybrid catalysts have been successfully reused in consecutive ECODS cycles. Additionally, the long carbon chain cations provide a protective environment around the polyoxometalate allowing for ODA7PW11 to retain its heterogeneity and structure after the ECODS process.

Beira, JM, Silva MP, Condesso M, Cosme P, Almeida PL, Corvo M, Sebastião PJ, Figueirinhas JL, de Pinho MN.  2018.  Molecular Physics. :1–8.: Taylor & Francis AbstractWebsite

In this work 2H NMR spectroscopy and 1H NMR relaxometry and diffusometry were used to characterise water order and dynamics in cellulose acetate/silica asymmetric membranes. Two hydrated membranes were characterised allowing the identification of extra ordering of the water molecules and the presence in each membrane of up to two spectral components with different degrees of order and different T1 values. The mechanism behind this order increase was ascribed to the rapid exchange of the water molecules between the pore walls and its interior. T1 relaxometry dispersions allowed for the identification of the relevant mechanisms of pore-confined water motion, with rotations mediated by translational displacements (RMTD) as the dominant mechanism in the low frequency region. Using the RMTD low cut off frequency along with the in situ directly measured diffusion constant it was possible do determine characteristic lengths of correlated water motion in both membranes studied, which fall in ranges compatible with typical pore dimensions in similar membranes.

Braz, L, Grenha A, Corvo MC, Lourenço JP, Ferreira D, Sarmento B, da Costa ARM.  2018.  Carbohydrate Polymers. 181:974–985.: Elsevier AbstractWebsite

The development of LBG-based nanoparticles intending an application in oral immunization is presented. Nanoparticle production occurred by mild polyelectrolyte complexation, requiring the chemical modification of LBG. Three LBG derivatives were synthesized, namely a positively charged ammonium derivative (LBGA) and negatively charged sulfate (LBGS) and carboxylate (LBGC) derivatives. These were characterized by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, elemental analysis, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, gel permeation chromatography, and x-ray diffraction. As a pharmaceutical application was aimed, a toxicological analysis of the derivatives was performed by both MTT test and LDH release assay.

Several nanoparticle formulations were produced using LBGA or chitosan (CS) as positively charged polymers, and LBGC or LBGS as negatively charged counterparts, producing nanoparticles with adequate properties regarding an application in oral immunization.

dos Santos, LM, Ligabue R, Dumas A, Le Roux C, Micoud P, Meunier J-F, Martin F, Corvo M, Almeida P, Einloft S.  2018.  Polymer Bulletin. :1–16.: Springer Berlin Heidelberg AbstractWebsite

Nano-Fe3O4-synthetic talc gel was used as filler in the synthesis of waterborne polyurethane/Fe3O4-synthetic talc nanocomposites. This filler presents numerous edges (Si–O and Mg–O) and OH groups easily forming hydrogen bonds and polar interaction with water conferring hydrophilic character, consequently improving filler dispersion within a water-based matrix. Yet, the use of waterborne polyurethane (WPU) as matrix must be highlighted due to its environmentally friendly characteristics and low toxicity compared to solvent-based product. Fe3O4-synthetic talc-nanofillers were well dispersed into the polyurethane matrix even at high filler content as supported by XRD and TEM analyses. NMR indicates the interaction of filler OH groups with the matrix. For all nanocomposites, one can see a typical ferromagnetic behavior below Curie temperature (about 120 K) and a superparamagnetic behavior above this temperature. The use of Fe3O4-synthetic talc for obtaining magnetic nanocomposites resulted in improved materials with superior mechanical properties compared to solvent-based nanocomposites.

2017
Beira, MJ, Daniel CI, Almeida PL, Corvo MC, Rosatella AA, Afonso CAM, Sebastiao PJ.  2017.  The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. : ACS Publications AbstractWebsite

In this work, 1H NMR relaxometry and diffusometry as well as viscometry experiments were carried out as a means to study the molecular dynamics of magnetic and non-magnetic ionic liquid-based systems. In order to evaluate the effect of a co-solvent on the super-paramagnetic properties observed for Aliquat-iron-based magnetic ionic liquids, mixtures comprising different concentrations, 1% and 10% (v/v), of DMSO-d6 were prepared and analyzed. The results suggest that, when at low concentrations, DMSO-d6 promotes more structured ionic arrangements, thus enhancing these super-paramagnetic properties. Furthermore, the analysis of temperature and water concentration effects allowed to conclude that neither one of these variables sufficiently affected the super-paramagnetic properties of the studied magnetic ionic liquids.

Dupont, J, Simon NM, Zanatta M, dos Santos FP, Corvo MC, Cabrita EJ.  2017.  ChemSusChem. AbstractWebsite

Confined water in aqueous solutions of imidazolium-based ionic liquids (ILs) associated with acetate and imidazolate anions react reversibly with CO2 to yield bicarbonate. Three types of CO2 sorption in these “IL aqueous solutions” were observed: physical, CO2-imidazolium adduct generation, and bicarbonate formation (up to 1.9 molbicarbonate mol−1 of IL), resulting in a 10:1 (molar ratio) total absorption of CO2 relative to imidazolate anions in the presence of water 1:1000 (IL/water). These sorption values are higher than the classical alkanol amines or even alkaline aqueous solutions under similar experimental conditions.

Berride, F, Troche-Pesqueira E, Feio G, Cabrita EJ, Sierra T, Navarro-Vázquez A, Cid MM.  2017.  Soft Matter. 13(38):6810-6815. AbstractWebsite

Chromonic liquid crystals (CLC) are lyotropic phases formed by discotic mesogens in water. Simple chiral dopants such as amino acids have been reported to turn chromonic liquid crystals into their cholesteric counterparts. Here we report a chirality amplification effect in the nematic phase of a 9 wt% disodium cromoglycate (DSCG) lyotropic liquid crystal (LLC) upon doping with a water-soluble codeine derivative. The transition on cooling the isotropic to the nematic phase showed the presence of homochiral spindle-shaped droplets (tactoids). NMR DOSY experiments on a triple gradient probe revealed a small degree of diffusion anisotropy for the alkaloid embedded in the liquid crystal structure. These results in combination with XRD, CD and POM experiments agree with a supramolecular aggregation model based on simple columnar stacks.

Ribeiro, SO, Nogueira LS, Gago S, Almeida PL, Corvo MC, de Castro B, Granadeiro CM, Balula SS.  2017.  Applied Catalysis A: General. : Elsevier AbstractWebsite

The present work presents a strategic oxidative desulfurization system able to efficiently operate under sustainable conditions, i.e. using an eco-friendly oxidant and without the need of extractive organic solvents. The catalytic performance of Eu(PW11O39)2@aptesSBA-15 was evaluated for the oxidative desulfurization of a multicomponent model diesel using a solvent-free or biphasic systems. The results reveal its remarkable desulfurization performance achieving complete desulfurization after just 2 h of reaction. Moreover, the composite has shown a high recycling ability without loss of catalytic activity for ten consecutive ODS cycles. Interestingly, under solvent-free conditions it was possible to maintain the desulfurization efficiency of the biphasic system while being able to avoid the use of harmful organic solvents. In this case, a successful extraction of oxidized sulfur compounds was found conciliating centrifugation and water as extraction solvent. Therefore, this work reports an important step towards the development of novel eco-sustainable desulfurization systems with high industrial interest.

Peixoto, D, Figueiredo M, Gawande MB, Corvo MC, Vanhoenacker G, Afonso CAM, Ferreira LM, Branco PS.  2017.  The Journal of Organic Chemistry. 82(12):6232–6241.: American Chemical Society AbstractWebsite

Unexpected and unusual reactivity of 2-methylimidazolium salts toward aryl-N-sulfonylimines and aryl aldehydes is here reported. Upon reaction with aryl-N-sulfonylimines, the addition product, arylethyl-2-imidazolium-1-tosylamide (3), is formed with moderate to good yields, while upon reaction with aldehydes, the initial addition product (6) observed in NMR and HPLC–MS experimental analysis is postulated by us as an intermediate to the final conversion to carboxylic acids. Studies in the presence and absence of molecular oxygen allow us to conclude that the imidazolium salts is crucial for the oxidation. A detailed mechanistic study was carried out to provide insights regarding this unexpected reactivity.

Ferreira, J, Santos T, Pereira P, Corvo MC, Queiroz JA, Sousa F, Cruz C.  2017.  Analyst. 142(16):2982-2994.: Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

G-quadruplex (G4) is involved in many biological processes, such as telomere function, gene expression and DNA replication. The selective isolation of G4 using affinity ligands that bind tightly and selectively is a valuable strategy for discovering new G4 binders for the separation of G4 from duplexes or the discrimination of G4 structures. In this work, one affinity chromatographic support was prepared using a naphthalene amine as a G4 binder. The ligand was immobilized on epoxy-activated Sepharose CL-6B using a long spacer arm and was characterized by HR-MAS spectroscopy. The supercoiled (sc) isoform of pVAX1-LacZ and pVAX1-G4 was isolated from a native sample. Also, the recovery and isolation of the plasmid isoforms from Escherichia coli lysate samples were achieved using an ionic gradient with different concentrations of NaCl in 10 mM Tris-HCl (pH 7.4). The retention times of different DNA/single strand sequences that can form G4, such as, c-MYC, c-kit1, c-kit2, tetrameric, telomeric (23AG), thrombin aptamer (TBA) and 58Sγ3 in this support were evaluated. Our experimental results suggest that the support exhibits selectivity for parallel c-MYC and c-kit1 G4s. In vitro transcription was performed using purified sc pVAX1-G4 and pPH600 to induce G4 formation and circular dichroism (CD) analysis confirmed that both transcripts adopt a parallel G4 topology.

Marcelino, P, Marinho SH, Campos MC, Neves AR, Real C, Fontes FS, Carvalho A, Feio G, Martins BMF, Corvo LM.  2017.  European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 109:464-471. AbstractWebsite

Liver ischaemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) may occur during hepatic surgery and is unavoidable in liver transplantation. Superoxide dismutase enzymosomes (SOD-enzymosomes), liposomes where SOD is at the liposomal surface expressing enzymatic activity in intact form without the need of liposomal disruption, were developed with the aim of having a better insight into its antioxidant therapeutic outcome in IRI. We also aimed at validating magnetic resonance microscopy (MRM) at 7 T as a tool to follow IRI. SOD-enzymosomes were characterized and tested in a rat ischaemia-reperfusion model and the therapeutic outcome was compared with conventional long circulating SOD liposomes and free SOD using biochemical liver injury biomarkers, histology and MRM. MRM results correlated with those obtained using classical biochemical biomarkers of liver injury and liver histology. Moreover, MRM images suggested that the therapeutic efficacy of both SOD liposomal formulations used was related to prevention of peripheral biliary ductular damage and disrupted vascular architecture. Therefore, MRM at 7 T is a useful technique to follow IRI. SOD-enzymosomes were more effective than conventional liposomes in reducing liver ischaemia-reperfusion injury and this may be due to a short therapeutic window.

Echeverria, C, Almeida PL, Gutierrez OAF, Rey AD, Godinho MH.  2017.  Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics. 55(10):821-830. AbstractWebsite

The shear rate dependence of material functions such as shear viscosity (η) and the first normal stress difference (N1) were given and interpreted earlier by Kiss and Porter. Their widely accepted work revealed the possibility of having a negative minimum of N1 for polymeric liquid crystals. In this work, we disclose for the first time the evidence of two negative N1 minima on a sheared cellulosic lyotropic system. The lower shear rate minimum is ascribed to the uncoiling of the cholesteric helix, as theoretically predicted earlier. Our findings contribute also to the understanding of the other minimum already reported in the literature and attributed to the nematic director tumbling mode. Moreover, the elastic change that the LC-HPC sample undergoes during the helix unwinding of the cholesteric structure is also by means of oscillatory measurements. This study is a contribution for the understanding of the structure-properties relationship linked with the complex rheological behavior of chiral nematic cellulose-based systems and may help to improve their further processing.

dos Santos, LM, Ligabue R, Dumas A, Le Roux C, Micoud P, Meunier J-F, Martin F, Corvo M, Almeida P, Einloft S.  2017.  Polymer Bulletin. :1-16.: Springer Berlin Heidelberg AbstractWebsite

Nano-Fe3O4-synthetic talc gel was used as filler in the synthesis of waterborne polyurethane/Fe3O4-synthetic talc nanocomposites. This filler presents numerous edges (Si–O and Mg–O) and OH groups easily forming hydrogen bonds and polar interaction with water conferring hydrophilic character, consequently improving filler dispersion within a water-based matrix. Yet, the use of waterborne polyurethane (WPU) as matrix must be highlighted due to its environmentally friendly characteristics and low toxicity compared to solvent-based product. Fe3O4-synthetic talc-nanofillers were well dispersed into the polyurethane matrix even at high filler content as supported by XRD and TEM analyses. NMR indicates the interaction of filler OH groups with the matrix. For all nanocomposites, one can see a typical ferromagnetic behavior below Curie temperature (about 120 K) and a superparamagnetic behavior above this temperature. The use of Fe3O4-synthetic talc for obtaining magnetic nanocomposites resulted in improved materials with superior mechanical properties compared to solvent-based nanocomposites.

Dupont, J, Simon NM, Zanatta M, dos Santos FP, Corvo MC, Cabrita EJ.  2017.  ChemSusChem. Abstract
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Peixoto, D, Figueiredo M, Gawande MB, Corvo MC, Vanhoenacker G, Afonso CAM, Ferreira LM, Branco PS.  2017.  The Journal of organic chemistry. 82:6232–6241., Number 12: American Chemical Society Abstract
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2016
Dionísio, M, Braz L, Corvo M, Lourenço JP, Grenha A, da Costa AMR.  2016.  International journal of biological macromolecules. 86:129-138.: Elsevier AbstractWebsite

Pullulan, a neutral polysaccharide, was chemically modified in order to obtain two charged derivatives: reaction with SO3.DMF complex afforded a sulfate derivative (SP), while reaction with glycidyltrimethylammonium chloride gave a quaternary ammonium salt (AP). The presence of the charged groups was confirmed by FTIR. Assessment of the positions where the reaction took place was based on 1H- and 13C NMR (COSY, HSQC-TOCSY, HSQC-DEPT, and HMBC) experiments. Estimation of the degree of substitution (DS) was made from elemental analysis data, and further confirmed by NMR peak areas in the case of AP. These new derivatives showed the capability to condense with each other, forming nanoparticles with the ability to associate a model protein (BSA) and displaying adequate size for drug delivery applications, therefore making them good candidates for the production of pullulan-based nanocarriers by polyelectrolyte complexation.

Echeverria, C, Fernandes SN, Almeida PL, Godinho MH.  2016.  European Polymer Journal. 84:675-684. AbstractWebsite

In the field of cellulosic liquid crystals, attempts to establish the relationship between structure/properties have been developed. Above a critical concentration in an aqueous solution, hydroxypropylcellulose self-assembles in order to form cholesteric liquid crystal phases (LC-HPC). In this work we aim to understand how the incorporation of a low content of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) within LC-HPC/H2O (50 wt%), could influence the behaviour of the system when subjected to low shear rates, where the cholesteric phase still persists. The analysis of the deuterium spectrum and the T2 (transversal relaxation) values confirm that the mobility of LC-HPC at low shear rates is restricted due to CNC, and consequently so is the flow of the cholesteric polydomains. These effects are more evident in the LC-HPC sample containing 2 wt% of CNC; besides needing more strain units to induce some degree of order, the achieved degree of order is recovered faster when compared to the reference sample.

Santos, T, Carvalho J, Corvo MC, Cabrita EJ, Queiroz JA, Cruz C.  2016.  International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. 87:385-396.: Elsevier AbstractWebsite

The present study focus on the preparation of chromatography supports for affinity-based chromatography of supercoiled plasmid purification. Three l-tryptophan based supports are prepared through immobilization on epoxy-activated Sepharose and characterized by HR-MAS NMR. The SPR is employed for a fast screening of l-tryptophan derivatives, as potential ligands for the biorecognition of supercoiled isoform, as well as, to establish the suitable experimental conditions for the chromatography. The results reveal that the overall affinity is high (KD = 10−9 and 10−8 M) and the conditions tested show that the use of HEPES 100 mM enables the separation and purification of supercoiled at T = 10 °C. The STD-NMR is performed to accomplish the epitope mapping of the 5′-mononucleotides bound to l-tryptophan derivatives supports. The data shows that the interactions between the three supports and the 5′-mononucleotides are mainly hydrophobic and π–π stacking. The chromatography experiments are performed with l-tryptophan support and plasmids pVAX-LacZ and pPH600. The supercoiled isoform separation is achieved at T = 10 °C by decreasing the concentration of (NH4)2SO4 from 2.7 to 0 M in HEPES for pVAX-LacZ and 2.65 M to 0 M in HEPES for pPH600.

Overall, l-tryptophan derivatives can be a promising strategy to purify supercoiled for pharmaceutical applications.

Fundo, JF, Galvis-Sanchez A, Madureira AR, Carvalho A, Feio G, Silva CLM, Quintas MAC.  2016.  LWT-Food Science and Technology. 74:280-285. AbstractWebsite

Fresh-cut fruit is an important segment in fruit market due to the increasing demand for healthy/convenient foods. However, processing promotes a decrease in fruits stability with faster physiological and microbiological deteriorations. Food stability is strongly attributed to its molecular dynamics and “water availability”. Understanding changes in water location/mobility is of utmost importance, since water dynamics profoundly influences physic-chemical and microbiological quality of foods. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) is a methodology used to study the food constituents' molecular dynamics.

The aim of this study is to use NMR to evaluate changes in water mobility that occurred in fresh-cut pear tissues during storage, by measuring the transverse relaxation time (T2) parameter.

Results showed the existence of three water classes in the cells after processing, with T2 values of 10 ms, 187 ms and 3s for cellular wall, cytoplasm and vacuole, respectively. Also, the obtained results demonstrated that T2 was affected by processing and storage. Moreover, a relationship between T2, microstructure and the quality parameters was established. T2, maximum value increased with pear hardness as well as water activity. On the contrary, a decrease in total colour difference (TCD) was found with T2.

Results demonstrate the usefulness of the application of NMR relaxometry in food studies.

Granadeiro, CM, Ribeiro SO, Kaczmarek AM, Cunha-Silva L, Almeida PL, Gago S, Van Deun R, de Castro B, Balula SS.  2016.  Microporous and Mesoporous Materials. 234:248-256. AbstractWebsite

The first lanthanopolyoxometalate-supported bifunctional periodic mesoporous organosilica (BPMO) composite is here reported. The incorporation of decatunsgstoeuropate anions ([Eu(W5O18)2]9−) within the porous channels of an ethylene-bridged TMAPS-functionalized BPMO produced a luminescent material exhibiting a strong red emission under UV irradiation. Photoluminescence studies showed an efficient energy transfer process to the lanthanide emitting center in the material (antenna effect). A significant change in the coordination environment of Eu3+ ions was observed after its incorporation into the TMAPS-functionalized material. The possible reason for this is discussed within the paper.

Santos, T, Carvalho J, Corvo MC, Cabrita EJ, Queiroz JA, Cruz C.  2016.  International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. : Elsevier Abstract
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2015
Ferreira, S, Carvalho J, Valente JF, Corvo M, Cabrita EJ, Sousa F, Queiroz JA, Cruz C.  2015.  J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 1006:47-58. AbstractWebsite

The developments in the use of plasmid DNA (pDNA) in gene therapy and vaccines have motivated the search and improvement of optimized purification processes. In this context, dipeptides l-tyrosine-l-tyrosine and l-tyrosine-l-arginine are synthetized to explore their application as affinity ligands for supercoiled (sc) plasmid DNA (pDNA) purification. The synthesis is based on the protection of N-Boc-l-tyrosine, followed by condensation with l-tyrosine or l-arginine methyl esters in the presence of dicyclohexylcarbodiimide (DCC), which after hydrolysis and acidification give the afforded dipeptides. The supports are then obtained by coupling l-tyrosine, l-tyrosine-l-tyrosine and l-tyrosine-l-arginine to epoxy-activated Sepharose and are characterized by high resolution magic angle spinning (HR-MAS) NMR and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) biosensor is used to establish the promising ligand to be used in the chromatographic experiments and ascertain experimental conditions. Sc isoform showed the highest affinity to the dipeptides, followed by linear (ln) pDNA, being the open circular (oc) the one that promoted the lowest affinity to l-tyrosine-l-arginine. Saturation transfer difference (STD)-NMR experiments show that the interaction is mainly hydrophobic with the majority of the 5'-mononucleotides, except for 5'-GMP with l-tyrosine-l-arginine Sepharose that is mainly electrostatic. The support l-tyrosine Sepharose used in chromatographic experiments promotes the separation of native pVAX1-LacZ and pcDNA3-FLAG-p53 samples (oc+sc) by decreasing the salt concentration. The results suggest that it is possible to purify different plasmids with the l-tyrosine Sepharose, with slight adjustments in the gradient conditions.

Echeverria, C, Aguirre LE, Merino EG, Almeida PL, Godinho MH.  2015.  ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 7:21005-9., Number 38 AbstractWebsite

The incorporation of small amount of highly anisotropic nanoparticles into liquid crystalline hydroxypropylcellulose (LC-HPC) matrix improves its response when is exposed to humidity gradients due to an anisotropic increment of order in the structure. Dispersed nanoparticles give rise to faster order/disorder transitions when exposed to moisture as it is qualitatively observed and quantified by stress-time measurements. The presence of carbon nanotubes derives in a improvement of the mechanical properties of LC-HPC thin films.

Echeverria, C, Almeida PL, Feio G, Figueirinhas JL, Godinho MH.  2015.  European Polymer Journal. 72:72-81. AbstractWebsite

Cellulose and its derivatives, such as hydroxypropylcellulose (HPC) have been studied for a long time but they are still not well understood particularly in liquid crystalline solutions. These systems can be at the origin of networks with properties similar to liquid crystalline (LC) elastomers. The films produced from LC solutions can be manipulated by the action of moisture allowing for instance the development of a soft motor (Geng et al., 2013) driven by humidity. Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), which combine cellulose properties with the specific characteristics of nanoscale materials, have been mainly studied for their potential as a reinforcing agent. Suspensions of CNC can also self-order originating a liquid-crystalline chiral nematic phases. Considering the liquid crystalline features that both LC-HPC and CNC can acquire, we prepared LC-HPC/CNC solutions with different CNC contents (1,2 and 5 wt.%). The effect of the CNC into the LC-HPC matrix was determined by coupling rheology and NMR spectroscopy - Rheo-NMR a technique tailored to analyse orientational order in sheared systems. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Carvalho, A, Domingues I, Goncalves MC.  2015.  Materials Chemistry and Physics. 168:42-49. AbstractWebsite

Core shell nanoparticles (NPs) formed by superparamagnetic iron oxide NPs (SPIONs) coated with inorganic or organically modified (ORMOSIL) sol gel silica exhibited promising properties as negative contrast agents (CA) for MRI applications. The potentiality of these new core shell NPs as negative CA for MRI is demonstrated and quantified. The longitudinal and transverse relaxivities of NPs with three different coating compositions were studied at a 7 T magnetic field: silica (TEOS), (3-aminopropyl) triethoxysilane (APTES) and (3-glycidoxypropyl) methyldiethoxysilane (GPTMS). Clearly, it was found that the core shell NPs efficiency as CA was strongly depend on the SPIONs coating. All the three core shell NPs studied presented a very small effect on the longitudinal relaxation time but a pronounced one on the transverse relaxation time, leading to a very high transverse longitudinal relaxivities ratio, decisive for their efficiency as negative CA for MRI The effect of the core shell NPs on the MRI contrast enhancement is obtained and quantified in a set of MRI of agar phantoms obtained at 7 T magnetic field and with a imaging gradient field of 1.6 T/m. The core shell NPs were tested in Zebra-fish (Danio rerio) animal model. Zebra-fish MRI were obtained with animals injected with the three core shell NPs and the contrast enhancement validated. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Palma, SI, Carvalho A, Silva J, Martins P, Marciello M, Fernandes AR, Del Puerto Morales M, Roque AC.  2015.  Contrast Media Mol Imaging. 10:320-8., Number 4 AbstractWebsite

Gum arabic (GA) is a hydrophilic composite polysaccharide derived from exudates of Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal trees. It is biocompatible, possesses emulsifying and stabilizing properties and has been explored as coating agent of nanomaterials for biomedical applications, namely magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs). Previous studies focused on the adsorption of GA onto MNPs produced by co-precipitation methods. In this work, MNPs produced by a thermal decomposition method, known to produce uniform particles with better crystalline properties, were used for the covalent coupling of GA through its free amine groups, which increases the stability of the coating layer. The MNPs were produced by thermal decomposition of Fe(acac)3 in organic solvent and, after ligand-exchange with meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA), GA coating was achieved by the establishment of a covalent bond between DMSA and GA moieties. Clusters of several magnetic cores entrapped in a shell of GA were obtained, with good colloidal stability and promising magnetic relaxation properties (r2 /r1 ratio of 350). HCT116 colorectal carcinoma cell line was used for in vitro cytotoxicity evaluation and cell-labeling efficiency studies. We show that, upon administration at the respective IC50 , GA coating enhances MNP cellular uptake by 19 times compared to particles bearing only DMSA moieties. Accordingly, in vitro MR images of cells incubated with increasing concentrations of GA-coated MNP present dose-dependent contrast enhancement. The obtained results suggest that the GA magnetic nanosystem could be used as a MRI contrast agent for cell-labeling applications.

Ferreira, S, Carvalho J, Valente JFA, Corvo MC, Cabrita EJ, Sousa F, Queiroz JA, Cruz C.  2015.  Journal of Chromatography B. 1006:47–58.: Elsevier Abstract
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Palma, SI, Marciello M, Carvalho A, Veintemillas-Verdaguer S, Morales Mdel P, Roque AC.  2015.  J Colloid Interface Sci. 437:147-55. AbstractWebsite

Oleic acid coated iron oxide nanoparticles synthesized by thermal decomposition in organic medium are highly monodisperse but at the same time are unsuitable for biological applications. Ligand-exchange reactions are useful to make their surface hydrophilic. However, these could alter some structural and magnetic properties of the modified particles. Here we present a comprehensive study and comparison of the effects of employing either citric acid (CA) or meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) ligand-exchange protocols for phase transfer of monodisperse hydrophobic iron oxide nanoparticles produced by thermal decomposition of Fe(acac)3 in benzyl ether. We show the excellent hydrodynamic size distribution and colloidal stability of the hydrophilic particles obtained by the two protocols and confirm that there is a certain degree of oxidation caused by the ligand-exchange. CA revealed to be more aggressive towards the iron oxide surface than DMSA and greatly reduced the saturation magnetization values and initial susceptibility of the resulting particles compared to the native ones. Besides being milder and more straightforward to perform, the DMSA ligand exchange protocol produces MNP chemically more versatile for further functionalization possibilities. This versatility is shown through the covalent linkage of gum Arabic onto MNP-DMSA using carboxyl and thiol based chemical routes and yielding particles with comparable properties.

Cardoso, BD, Vicente AI, Ward JBJ, Sebastiao PJ, Chavez FV, Barroso S, Carvalho A, Keely SJ, Martinho PN, Calhorda MJ.  2015.  Inorganica Chimica Acta. 432:258-266. AbstractWebsite

Three iron(III) complexes with ligands derived from N-ethyl-N-(2-aminoethyl) salicylaldiminate (H, 1; 5-Br, 2; 3-OMe, 3 substituents at the phenyl group) were prepared and the X-ray crystal structures of 1 and 2 are reported. NMR studies of solutions of these complexes in DMSO allowed for investigation of their magnetic behaviour and paramagnetic relaxation contribution. The relaxivities measured ranged from 0.35 to 0.80 mM(-1) s(-1) for proton Larmor frequencies from 0.01 to 300 MHz, in agreement with those known for other iron(III) based contrast agents. Biological studies on colonic epithelial T-84 cell monolayers showed that the compounds exert toxic effects only at concentrations higher than 100 mu M while coincidently reducing colonic epithelial secretory function. These two features make these complexes good candidates for further development in order to be used as MRI contrast agents. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Fundo, JF, Amaro AL, Madureira AR, Carvalho A, Feio G, Silva CLM, Quintas MAC.  2015.  Journal of Food Engineering. 167:71-76. AbstractWebsite

Molecular mobility is a fundamental parameter which reflects the dynamic properties of food components and contributes to food degradation reactions comprehension. Fresh-cut fruits have become an important food market segment. However, processing of fruits promotes faster its physiological deterioration, biochemical changes and microbial degradation. The purpose of this work was to use NMR methodology as a tool to evaluate fresh-cut fruit quality, during storage at refrigerated conditions. The fresh-cut melon transverse relaxation time (T-2) was measured for a period of 7 days of storage at 5 degrees C. The relationship between the obtained values, microstructure and quality parameters was investigated. In general, results show the existence of one class of water fluidity in the system, the one present in cells after processing. T-2, a measure of this fluidity, is affected by the processing and storage time. Also, it is possible to find a close relationships between T-2 and quality parameters of total colour difference (TCD), firmness and a(w). As T-2 increases TCD also increases, while firmness and aw decrease. These results highlight the usefulness of NMR methodology application in food science. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Azevedo, G, Domingues B, Abreu H, Sousa-Pinto I, Feio G, Hilliou L.  2015.  Carbohydr Polym. 116:140-8. AbstractWebsite

The biomass yield potential of Mastocarpus stellatus, a commercially attractive carrageenophyte for foods and pharmaceutics, was investigated by cultivating the seaweeds in the nutrient-rich outflow of a commercial fish farm. Results from two consecutive 4 weeks experiments indicate that the cultivation of this seaweed produces a mean biomass of 21 to 40.6 gDW m(-2) day(-1) depending on the time of the experiment. DRIFT and CP-MAS NMR analyses of seaweeds indicate that cultivation during May affected quantitatively the seaweeds chemistry, and thus the chemical and gelling properties of native extracts of kappa/iota-hybrid carrageenan (KI). Overall, algal growth leads to the production of more sulphated KI, the percentage increase varying between 27% and 44% for the two experiments. However, alkali treatment of seaweeds before extraction reduces the variations in gelling properties of KI induced by the algal growth. This study demonstrates the capacity of growing M. stellatus in an integrated multi-trophic aquaculture system for the sustainable production of high value polysaccharides.

Corvo, M, Sardinha J, Casimiro T, Marin G, Seferin M, Einloft S, Menezes SC, Dupont J, Cabrita EJ.  2015.  ChemSusChem. 8:1935-46., Number 11 AbstractWebsite

Branching at the alkyl side chain of the imidazolium cation in ionic liquids (ILs) was evaluated towards its effect on carbon dioxide (CO2 ) solubilization at 10 and 80 bar (1 bar=1x10(5) Pa). By combining high-pressure NMR spectroscopy measurements with molecular dynamics simulations, a full description of the molecular interactions that take place in the IL-CO2 mixtures can be obtained. The introduction of a methyl group has a significant effect on CO2 solubility in comparison with linear or fluorinated analogues. The differences in CO2 solubility arise from differences in liquid organization caused by structural changes in the cation. ILs with branched cations have similar short-range cation-anion orientations as those in ILs with linear side chains, but present differences in the long-range order. The introduction of CO2 does not cause perturbations in the former and benefits from the differences in the latter. Branching at the cation results in sponge-like ILs with enhanced capabilities for CO2 capture.

Fundo, JF, Carvalho A, Feio G, Silva CLM, Quintas MAC.  2015.  Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies. 28:81-85. AbstractWebsite

Foods are partially crystalline partially amorphous systems. Edible films are considered good models for food systems due to their interesting physical properties, quite straightforward matrices, and easy reproduction. Chitosan is a semicrystalline biopolymer, biocompatible, biodegradable, with antimicrobial activity and filmogenic properties, thoroughly used in edible films' studies. This work aims to investigate the relationship between chitosan films' molecular relaxation time, their microstructure (crystallinity) and functional properties. Analyses were carried out using data on chitosan/glycerol films prepared with different polymer/plasticisant concentrations. Results demonstrate that there is a relationship between macroscopic properties and water and glycerol relaxation times. Moreover, results show that while water is free in the matrix, glycerol is linked to the chitosan polymeric chains, decreasing intermolecular attractions and increasing free volume, thus facilitating molecular migration. Also the data analysis reveals the usefulness of NMR and molecular mobility studies in the matrix for characterisation and development of polymeric structures. Industrial relevance: NMR spectroscopy is currently one of the key methods for food characterisation. Foodstuff is a complex matrix including many different compounds with different chemical structures, concentrations, solubility, properties and nutritional values. From a fundamental perspective, foods are mainly edible and digestible biopolymers that are partially crystalline/partially amorphous and thus edible films, specifically chitosan/glycerol films can be very interesting food model systems for mobility and microstructure studies. Studies on water and solids' mobility and thermo-mechanical properties in food systems (real or model systems),are fundamental to fully attain food physical properties and stability. These studies may be extremely useful for food product and process design, safety and sensorial attributes and also for better understanding and predicting, for example, food storage stability conditions. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Echeverria, C, Almeida PL, Feio G, Figueirinhas JL, Rey AD, Godinho MH.  2015.  Polymer. 65:18-25. AbstractWebsite

Since long ago cellulosic lyotropic liquid crystals were thought as potential materials to produce fibers competitive with spidersilk or Kevlar, yet the processing of high modulus materials from cellulose-based precursors was hampered by their complex rheological behavior. In this work, by using the Rheo-NMR technique, which combines deuterium NMR with rheology, we investigate the high shear rate regimes that may be of interest to the industrial processing of these materials. Whereas the low shear rate regimes were already investigated by this technique in different works [1-4], the high shear rates range is still lacking a detailed study. This work focuses on the orientational order in the system both under shear and subsequent relaxation process arising after shear cessation through the analysis of deuterium spectra from the deuterated solvent water. At the analyzed shear rates the cholesteric order is suppressed and a flow-aligned nematic is observed which for the higher shear rates develops after certain time periodic perturbations that transiently annihilate the order in the system. During relaxation the flow aligned nematic starts losing order due to the onset of the cholesteric helices leading to a period of very low order where cholesteric helices with different orientations are forming from the aligned nematic, followed in the final stage by an increase in order at long relaxation times corresponding to the development of aligned cholesteric domains. This study sheds light on the complex rheological behavior of chiral nematic cellulose-based systems and opens ways to improve its processing. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Carvalho, A, Sebastiao PJ, Fonseca I, Matos J, Goncalves MC.  2015.  Microporous and Mesoporous Materials. 217:102-108. AbstractWebsite

Four silica-based porous nanosystems were synthesized with different organic substitutes and the molecular dynamics of water in these constrained environment was investigated. The nanosystems were silica and three organic modified silica nanoparticles (NP) with diameters in the range 80-300 nm with different porous dimensions, surface areas, and surface properties (e.g. hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity). Molecular dynamics was studied by pulsed field gradient NMR and by proton spin-lattice relaxation in a broad range of Larmor frequencies. A coherent analysis of the diffusion coefficients and spin-lattice relaxation data is presented taking into account a relaxation model associated to water molecular dynamics in close contact with NP surfaces. From our results it was possible to access the details of the water molecular movements in the nanosystems and to single out two water populations presenting distinct molecular dynamics. Characteristic distances for water rotations mediated by translational diffusion were estimated in consistency with the NP's dimensions and pores sizes obtained by TEM and BET experimental techniques. This knowledge has both fundamental and practical relevance since these NP have applications in nanomedicine, not only in therapy but also in diagnostic procedures and more recently in theranostic. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Palma, SI, Rodrigues CA, Carvalho A, Morales Mdel P, Freitas F, Fernandes AR, Cabral JM, Roque AC.  2015.  Nanoscale. 7:14272-83., Number 34 AbstractWebsite

Fucopol, a fucose-containing exopolysaccharide (EPS) produced by the bacterium Enterobacter A47 DSM 23139 using glycerol as a carbon source, was employed as a new coating material for iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs). The coated particles were assessed as nanoprobes for cell labeling by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The MNPs were synthesized by a thermal decomposition method and transferred to an aqueous medium by a ligand-exchange reaction with meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA). Covalent binding of EPS to DMSA-stabilized nanoparticles (MNP-DMSA) resulted in a hybrid magnetic-biopolymeric nanosystem (MNP-DMSA-EPS) with a hydrodynamic size of 170 nm, a negative surface charge under physiological conditions and transverse to longitudinal relaxivity ratio, r2/r1, of 148. In vitro studies with two human cell lines (colorectal carcinoma - HCT116 - and neural stem/progenitor cells - ReNcell VM) showed that EPS promotes internalization of nanoparticles in both cell lines. In vitro MRI cell phantoms showed a superior performance of MNP-DMSA-EPS in ReNcell VM, for which the iron dose-dependent MRI signal drop was obtained at relatively low iron concentrations (12-20 mug Fe per ml) and short incubation times. Furthermore, ReNcell VM multipotency was not affected by culture in the presence of MNP-DMSA or MNP-DMSA-EPS for 14 days. Our study suggests that Fucopol-coated MNPs represent useful cell labeling nanoprobes for MRI.

2014
Carvalho, A, Martins MB, Corvo ML, Feio G.  2014.  Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl. 43:521-6. AbstractWebsite

Magnetic core coatings modify the efficiency of nanoparticles used as contrast agents for MRI. In studies of these phenomena, care should be given to take into account possible effects of the specific micro-environment where coated nanoparticles are embedded. In the present work, the longitudinal and transverse relaxivities of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles stabilized with short-chain polyethylene glycol molecules (PEGylated SPIONs) were measured in a 7T magnetic field. PEGylated SPIONs with two different diameters (5 and 10nm) were studied. Two different PEGylated magnetoliposomes having liposome bilayer membranes composed of egg-phosphatidylcholine, cholesterol and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycerol-3-phosphoethanolamine-N-[methoxy PEG-2000] were also studied for their relaxivities, after being loaded with the PEGylated SPION of 5 or 10nm. This type of liposomes is known to have long residence time in bloodstream that leads to an attractive option for therapeutic applications. The influence of the magnetic core coating on the efficiency of the nanosystem as a negative contrast agent for MRI was then compared to the cumulative effect of the coating plus the specific micro-environment components. As a result, it was found that the PEGylated magnetoliposomes present a 4-fold higher efficiency as negative contrast agents for MRI than the PEGylated SPION.

Fundo, JF, Fernandes R, Almeida PM, Carvalho A, Feio G, Silva CL, Quintas MA.  2014.  Food Chem. 144:2-8. AbstractWebsite

This study was developed with the purpose to investigate the effect of polysaccharide/plasticiser concentration on the microstructure and molecular dynamics of polymeric film systems, using transmission electron microscope imaging (TEM) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques. Experiments were carried out in chitosan/glycerol films prepared with solutions of different composition. The films obtained after drying and equilibration were characterised in terms of composition, thickness and water activity. Results show that glycerol quantities used in film forming solutions were responsible for films composition; while polymer/total plasticiser ratio in the solution determined the thickness (and thus structure) of the films. These results were confirmed by TEM. NMR allowed understanding the films molecular rearrangement. Two different behaviours for the two components analysed, water and glycerol were observed: the first is predominantly moving free in the matrix, while glycerol is mainly bounded to the chitosan chain.

Martins, MB, Corvo ML, Marcelino P, Marinho HS, Feio G, Carvalho A.  2014.  Nanomedicine. 10:207-14., Number 1 AbstractWebsite

New long circulating magnetoliposomes coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG), and loaded with PEG-coated 10nm superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION), were developed. The magnetoliposomes relaxivities r1, r2 measured in a magnetic field of 7 T showed a minor effect on T1, but a major effect on T2. These nanosystems were used as a negative contrast agent for MRI in a nonclinical study to visualize, in a rat model of liver ischemia, ischemia-reperfusion injuries. Magnetic resonance micro-images (MRM) at 7 T were obtained for rat liver with and without magnetoliposomes administration and analyzed in comparison with liver biomarkers and histological results. These new long circulating magnetoliposomes enhanced the detection of lesions indicating their potential use as efficient MRI negative contrast agent for the detection of liver ischemia-reperfusion injuries. FROM THE CLINICAL EDITOR: This paper describes the generation of PEGylated magnetoliposomes and demonstrates their feasibility as negative contrast agents in a liver ischemia-reperfusion rat model.

Nogueira, LS, Ribeiro S, Granadeiro CM, Pereira E, Feio G, Cunha-Silva L, Balula SS.  2014.  Dalton Trans. 43:9518-28., Number 25 AbstractWebsite

A novel method to prepare silica nano-sized particles incorporating polyoxometalates was developed leading to a new efficient heterogeneous oxidative catalyst. Zinc-substituted polyoxotungstate [PW11Zn(H2O)O39](5-) (PW11Zn) was encapsulated into silica nanoparticles using a cross-linked organic-inorganic core, performed through successive spontaneous reactions in water. The potassium salt of PW11Zn and the composite formed, PW11Zn-APTES@SiO2, were characterized by a myriad of solid-state methods such as FT-IR, FT-Raman, (31)P and (13)C CP/MAS solid-state NMR, elemental analysis and SEM-EDS, confirming the integrity of the PW11Zn structure immobilized in the silica nanoparticles. The new composite has shown to be a versatile catalyst for the oxidation of olefins and also to catalyze the desulfurization of a model oil using H2O2 as the oxidant and acetonitrile as the solvent. The novel composite material was capable of being recycled without significant loss of activity and maintaining its structural stability for consecutive desulfurization and olefin oxidative cycles.

Cachitas, H, Sebastiao PJ, Feio G, Chavez FV.  2014.  Liquid Crystals. 41:1080-1089., Number 8 AbstractWebsite

Proton nuclear magnetic resonance (H-1 NMR) relaxometry, over about five decades in Larmor frequency, and pulsed field gradient NMR were used to study the molecular dynamics in the chromonic nematic and isotropic phases of stacked molecules of the binary mixture composed by Edicol Sunset Yellow (ESY) and deuterated water. Our results evidence that in both phases collective motions are responsible for the spin-lattice relaxation dispersion in the Larmor frequency range below 1 MHz. In the nematic phase, the collective motion are attributed to columnar undulations within the stacked molecules, while, in the isotropic phase, the results are explained by local order fluctuations due to the formation of the stacks. The high frequency dispersion was explained by individual molecular motions like rotations around and perpendicular to the stack axis, and also self-diffusion.

2013
Daniel, CI, Chavez FV, Feio G, Portugal CA, Crespo JG, Sebastiao PJ.  2013.  J Phys Chem B. 117:11877-84., Number 39 AbstractWebsite

A study is presented of the molecular dynamics and of the viscosity in pure [Aliquat][Cl] ionic liquid and in a mixture of [Aliquat][Cl] with 1% (v/v) of [Aliquat][FeCl4]. The (1)H spin-lattice relaxation rate, R1, was measured by NMR relaxometry between 8 and 300 MHz. In addition, the translation self-diffusion, D, was measured by pulse field gradient NMR. The ILs' viscosity was measured as a function of an applied magnetic field, B, and it was found that the IL mixture's viscosity decreased with increasing B, whereas the [Aliquat][Cl] viscosity is independent of B. All experimental results were analyzed taking into account the viscosity's magnetic field dependence, assuming a modified Stokes-Einstein diffusion/viscosity relation. The main difference between the relaxation mechanisms responsible for R1 in the two IL systems is related to the additional paramagnetic relaxation contribution associated with the (1)H spins-[FeCl4] paramagnetic moments' interactions. Cross-relaxation cusps in the R1 dispersion, associated with (35)Cl and (1)H nuclear spins in the IL systems, were detected. The R1 model considered was successfully fitted to the experimental results, and it was possible to estimate the value of D at zero field in the case of the IL mixture which was consistent with the values of D measured at 7 and 14.1 T and with the magnetic field dependence estimated from the viscosity measurements. It was observed that a small concentration of [Aliquat][FeCl4] in the [Aliquat][Cl] was enough to produce a "superparamagnetic"-like effect and to change the IL mixture's molecular dynamics and viscosity and to allow for their control with an external magnetic field.

Neves, CS, Granadeiro CM, Cunha-Silva L, Ananias D, Gago S, Feio G, Carvalho PA, Eaton P, Balula SS, Pereira E.  2013.  European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry. :2877-2886., Number 16 AbstractWebsite

The incorporation of europium polyoxometalates into silica nanoparticles can lead to a biocompatible nanomaterial with luminescent properties suitable for applications in biosensors, biological probes, and imaging. Keggin-type europium polyoxometalates Eu(PW11)x (x = 1 and 2) with different europium coordination environments were prepared by using simple methodologies and no expensive reactants. These luminescent compounds were then encapsulated into silica nanoparticles for the first time through the water-in-oil microemulsion methodology with a nonionic surfactant. The europium polyoxometalates and the nanoparticles were characterized by using several techniques [FTIR, FT-Raman, 31P magic angle spinning (MAS) NMR, and TEM/energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (TEM-EDS), AFM, dynamic light scattering (DLS), and inductively coupled plasma MS (ICP-MS) analysis]. The stability of the material and the integrity of the europium compounds incorporated were also examined. Furthermore, the photoluminescence properties of the Eu(PW11)x@SiO2 nanomaterials were evaluated and compared with those of the free europium polyoxometalates. The silica surface of the most stable nanoparticles was successfully functionalized with appropriate organosilanes to enable the covalent binding of oligonucleotides.

Oliveira, FS, Pereiro AB, Araujo JM, Bernardes CE, Canongia Lopes JN, Todorovic S, Feio G, Almeida PL, Rebelo LP, Marrucho IM.  2013.  Phys Chem Chem Phys. 15:18138-47., Number 41 AbstractWebsite

The subject of ionicity has been extensively discussed in the last decade, due to the importance of understanding the thermodynamic and thermophysical behaviour of ionic liquids. In our previous work, we established that ionic liquids' ionicity could be improved by the dissolution of simple inorganic salts in their milieu. In this work, a comparison between the thermophysical properties of two binary systems of ionic liquid + inorganic salt is presented. The effect of the ammonium thiocyanate salt on the ionicity of two similar ionic liquids, 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium ethylsulfonate and ethylsulfate, is investigated in terms of the related thermophysical properties, such as density, viscosity and ionic conductivity in the temperature range 298.15-323.15 K. In addition, spectroscopic (NMR and Raman) and molecular dynamic studies were conducted in order to better understand the interactions that occur at a molecular level. The obtained results reveal that although the two anions of the ionic liquid exhibit similar chemical structures, the presence of one additional oxygen in the ethylsulfate anion has a major impact on the thermophysical properties of the studied systems.

Carvalho, A, Goncalves MC, Martins MB, Meixedo D, Feio G.  2013.  Magn Reson Imaging. 31:610-2., Number 4 AbstractWebsite

We present relaxivities measurements for both the longitudinal and transverse relaxations of two types of liposomes loaded with ultra small superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. The magnetoliposome systems presented are soybean phosphatidylcholine liposomes, with and without cholesterol, in the phospholipid bilayer with different molar ratios lipid:cholesterol. In fact, cholesterol is needed to obtain stable liposomes for intravenous administration. The longitudinal and transverse relaxivities were measured with a NMR spectrometer in a 7T magnetic field. For the studied concentrations, the liposomes show a negligible effect on the longitudinal relaxation time T1 of the medium, but they are very efficient on decreasing the transverse relaxation time T2, the behaviour one expects for a negative CA. We observed a lower transverse relaxivity for the magnetoliposome nanosystem with cholesterol, which strongly decreases with the cholesterol content in the liposome bilayer.

Corvo, M, Sardinha J, Menezes SC, Einloft S, Seferin M, Dupont J, Casimiro T, Cabrita EJ.  2013.  Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 52:13024-7., Number 49 AbstractWebsite

Where is CO2 ? The intermolecular interactions of [C4 mim]BF4 and [C4 mim]PF6 ionic liquids and CO2 have been determined by high-pressure NMR spectroscopy in combination with molecular dynamic simulations. The anion and the cation are both engaged in interactions with CO2 . A detailed picture of CO2 solvation in these ILs is provided. CO2 solubility is essentially determined by the microscopic structure of the IL.

Corvo, MC, Sardinha J, Menezes SC, Einloft S, Seferin M, Dupont J, Casimiro T, Cabrita EJ.  2013.  Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 52:13024–13027., Number 49: WILEY-VCH Verlag Abstract
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Faria, MR, Cruz MM, Goncalves MC, Carvalho A, Feio G, Martins MB.  2013.  Int J Pharm. 446:183-90., Number 1-2 AbstractWebsite

This work assesses the characteristics of magnetoliposomes of soybean phosphatidylcholine (SPC):cholesterol (Chol) loaded with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) stabilized with tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAOH) and their capacity to enhance magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast. Magnetoliposomes of SPC were used for comparative studies. IONPs and magnetoliposomes were characterized using transmission electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering, SQUID magnetometry, FTIR and MRI. The saturation magnetization at 10K was  0.06 Am(2)/kg for SPC:Chol magnetoliposomes with 7 g iron oxide/mol of lipid and  0.05 Am(2)/kg for SPC magnetoliposomes with 21 g iron oxide/mol of lipid. As these values are associated with the number of incorporated magnetic IONPs, the saturation magnetization is 1.2 times higher for magnetoliposomes of SPC:Chol as compared with magnetoliposomes of SPC alone. The behavior of temperature dependence in both cases is typical of superparamagnetic particles. FTIR spectra evidence the increase of magnetoliposome membrane ordering with the presence of Chol. Principal component analysis (PCA) applied to FTIR spectra evidenced a clear distinction between scores for SPC:Chol, and SPC magnetoliposomes and for SPC empty liposomes. PCA applied to FTIR data differentiate magnetoliposomes from empty liposomes. MR images of aqueous phantoms obtained with and without magnetoliposomes, clearly evidence their effect on T2 image weighting.

Casimiro, MH, Corvo M, Ramos AM, Cabrita EJ, Ramos AM, Ferreira LM.  2013.  Materials Chemistry and Physics. 138:11–16., Number 1: Elsevier Abstract
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Casimiro, MH, Corvo M, Ramos AM, Cabrita EJ, Ramos AM, Ferreira LM.  2013.  Materials Chemistry and Physics. 138:11-16., Number 1 AbstractWebsite

A novel porous polymer-ionic liquid composite with poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (PHEMA) and 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium hexafluorophosphate (BMIPF6) has been synthesized by gamma-irradiation without heat or chemical initiators. The products can be reversibly converted into organogels. The composites are potential candidates for electrochemical applications. The use of gamma-radiation can be a simple and versatile alternative way to obtain these materials. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Geng, Y, Almeida PL, Feio GM, Figueirinhas JL, Godinho MH.  2013.  Macromolecules. 46:4296-4302., Number 11 AbstractWebsite

Water-based cellulose cholesteric liquid crystalline phases at rest can undergo structural changes induced by shear flow. This reflects on the deuterium spectra recorded when the system is investigated by rheo-nuclear magnetic resonance (rheo-NMR) techniques. In this work, the model system hydroxypropylcellulose (HPC)+water is revisited using rheo-NMR to clarify unsettled points regarding its behavior under shear and in relaxation. The NMR spectra allow the identification of five different stable ordering states, within shear and relaxation, which are well integrated in a mesoscopic picture of the system's structural evolution under shear and relaxation. This picture emerging from the large body of studies available for this system by other experimental techniques, accounts well for the NMR data and is in good agreement with the three distinct regions of steady shear flow recognized for some lyotropic LC polymers. Shear rates in between 0.1 and 1.0 s(-1) where investigated using a Taylor-Couette flow and deuterated water was used as solvent for the deuterium NMR (DNMR) analysis.

2011
Viegas, A, Manso J, Corvo M, Marques MM, Cabrita EJ.  2011.  J Med Chem. 54:8555-62., Number 24 AbstractWebsite

Saturation transfer difference NMR (STD-NMR) spectroscopy has emerged as a powerful screening tool and a straightforward way to study the binding epitopes of active compounds in early stage lead discovery in pharmaceutical research. Here we report the application of STD-NMR to characterize the binding of the anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen, diclofenac, and ketorolac to COX-1 and COX-2. Using well-studied COX inhibitors and by comparing STD signals with crystallographic structures, we show that there is a relation between the orientations of ibuprofen and diclofenac in the COX-2 active site and the relative STD responses detected in the NMR experiments. On the basis of this analysis, we propose that ketorolac should bind to the COX-2 active site in an orientation similar to that of diclofenac. We also show that the combination of STD-NMR with competition experiments constitutes a valuable tool to address the recently proposed behavior of COX-2 as functional heterodimers and complements enzyme activity studies in the effort to rationalize COX inhibition mechanisms.

Viegas, A, Manso J, Corvo MC, Marques MMB, Cabrita EJ.  2011.  Journal of medicinal chemistry. 54:8555–8562., Number 24: ACS Publications Abstract
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Corvo, M, de Menezes SC, Magalhães TO, Seferin M, Einloft S, Casimiro T, Cabrita EJ.  2011.   Abstract
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2010
Carvalho, LR, Corvo M, Enugala R, Marques MM, Cabrita EJ.  2010.  Magn Reson Chem. 48:323-30., Number 4 AbstractWebsite

The solid-phase synthesis (SPS) of a structurally complex glycopeptide, using Sieber amide resin, was monitored by high resolution magic angle spinning NMR, demonstrating the further application of this technique. A synthetic peptidoglycan derivative, a precursor of a biologically active PGN, known to be involved in the cellular recognition, was prepared by SPS. The synthesis involved the preparation of an N-alloc glucosamine moiety and the synthesis of a simple amino acid sequence L-Ala-D-Glu-L-Lys-D-Ala-D-Ala. Last step consisted the coupling, on solid-phase, of the protected muramyl unit to the peptide chain. Proton spectra with good suppression of the polystyrene signals in swollen resin samples were obtained in DMF-d(7) as a solvent and by using a nonselective 1D TOCSY/DIPSI-2 scheme, thus allowing to follow the SPS without losses of compound and cleavage from the resin. The assignment of the proton spectra of the resin-bound amino acid sequence and of the bound glycopeptide was achieved through the combination of MAS COSY, TOCSY and NOESY.

Lehmann, M, Kohn C, Figueirinhas JL, Feio G, Cruz C, Dong RY.  2010.  Chemistry. 16:8275-9., Number 28 AbstractWebsite
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Kundu, S, Feio G, Pinto LFV, Almeida PL, Figueirinhas JL, Godinho MH.  2010.  Macromolecules. 43:5749-5755., Number 13 AbstractWebsite

Deuterium NMR was used to investigate the orientational order in a composite cellulosic formed by liquid crystalline acetoxypropylcellulose (A PC) and demented nematic 4'-penty1-4-cyanobiphenyl (5CB-4 alpha d(2)) with the per centage of 85% A PC by weight Three forms of the composite including electro spun microfibers, thin film and bulk samples were analyzed The NMR results initially suggest two distinct scenarios, one whet e the 503-alpha d(2), is confined to small droplets with dimensions smaller than the magnetic coherence length and the other where the 503-alpha d(2) molecules arc aligned with the A PC network chains Polarized optical microscopy (POW from thin film samples along with all the NMR results show the presence of 5CB-alpha d(2) droplets in the composite systems with a nematic wetting layer at the APC-5CB-alpha d(2) interface that experiences and order disorder transition driven by the polymer network N-I transition The characterization of the APC network I-N transition shows a pronounced subcritical behavior within a heterogeneity scenario

Figueirinhas, JL, Feio G, Cruz C, Lehmann M, Kohn C, Dong RY.  2010.  J Chem Phys. 133:174509., Number 17 AbstractWebsite

Deuterium and carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy were used to study both the high temperature uniaxial nematic and the low temperature biaxial nematic glass of a shape-persistent V-shaped mesogen. It was found that biaxial ordering determined in the domains of the latter has symmetry lower than D(2h) and is compatible with C(2h) symmetry or lower. In particular, elements of the ordering matrix including biaxial phase order parameters were determined from (2)H NMR at two temperatures, one just below the glass transition, and the other deep inside the biaxial glass, which allowed for the characterization of the dominant molecular motions at these temperatures. (13)C NMR magic angle spinning sideband patterns, collected both in the high temperature nematic phase and in the nematic glass, clearly show the difference between them in terms of the phase symmetry.

2009
Figueirinhas, JL, Cruz C, Feio G, Mehl GH.  2009.  Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals. 510:158-174. AbstractWebsite

Calculations of deuterium NMR spectra were performed using a model of slow motions based on the collective modes present in liquid crystalline systems and evaluated within the Landau de Gennes free energy expansion on the order parameter tensor. Simulations obtained with this model are applied to the case of deuterium NMR spectra collected in static and rotating samples of organosiloxane tetrapodes exhibiting uniaxial and biaxial nematic phases. The analysis of the slow motions influence on deuterium NMR spectra shows that molecular motions within a time-scale of the order of magnitude of NMR observation times are particularly effective on modulating the NMR line-shape in the case of the liquid crystalline system investigated.

Feio, G, Figueirinhas JL, Tajbakhsh AR, Terentjev EM.  2009.  J Chem Phys. 131:074903., Number 7 AbstractWebsite

Orientational ordering in polydomain nematic and isotropic elastomers with identical polysiloxane backbone and different deuterium-labeled side groups is studied by D-NMR. In the nematic elastomer the orientational order parameter grows in a critical fashion on crossing the I-N transition implying a continuous phase transition driven by critical fluctuations of local director. The orientational (nematic) ordering occurs on the background of the polymer dynamics exhibited by the backbone, which is similar in the nematic and the analogous isotropic elastomers. The temperature dependence of NMR linewidths is compatible with a Vogel-Fulcher glassy dynamics.

2008
Cruz, C, Figueirinhas JL, Filip D, Feio G, Ribeiro AC, Frere Y, Meyer T, Mehl GH.  2008.  Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 78:051702., Number 5 Pt 1 AbstractWebsite

The biaxial nematic phase was recently observed in different thermotropic liquid crystals, namely bent-core compounds, side-chain polymers, bent-core dimers, and organosiloxane tetrapodes. In this work, a series of experiments with a nematic organosiloxane tetrapode where nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra are collected while the sample is continuously rotating around an axis perpendicular to the magnetic field, are discussed in conjunction with the analysis of a deuterium NMR experiment on the same system reported earlier. The sample used is a mixture of a deuterated probe with the tetrapode. The mixture exhibits a nematic range between -40 degrees C and 37 degrees C. The results of the two independent, but complementary deuterium NMR experiments confirm the existence of a biaxial nematic phase for temperatures below 0 degrees C with high values of the asymmetry parameter at low temperatures. The presence of slow movements of the tetrapode mesogenic units in the low-temperature regime could also be detected through the analysis of the NMR spectra. Simulations indicate that these movements are mainly slow molecular reorientations of the mesogenic units associated with the presence of collective modes in the nematic phases of this compound. In the case of tetrapodes, recent investigations attribute the origin of biaxiality to the hindering of reorientations of the laterally attached mesogenic units which constitute the tetrapode. This study relates the molecular movements with the nematic biaxial ordering of the system.

Feio, G, Figueirinhas JL, Tajbakhsh AR, Terentjev EM.  2008.  Physical Review B. 78, Number 2 AbstractWebsite

We carry out a detailed deuterium nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) study of local nematic ordering in polydomain nematic elastomers. This system has a close analogy to the random-anisotropy spin glass. We find that, in spite of the quadrupolar nematic symmetry in three dimensions requiring a first-order transition, the order parameter in the quenched "nematic glass" emerges via a continuous phase transition. In addition to this remarkable effect, by a careful analysis of the NMR line shape, we deduce that the local director fluctuations grow in a critical manner around the transition point. This could become an essential experimental evidence for the quenched disorder changing the order of discontinuous transition.

Cardoso, M, Figueirinhas JL, Cruz C, Van-Quynh A, Ribeiro AC, Feio G, Apreutesei D, Mehl GH.  2008.  Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals. 495:700-+. AbstractWebsite

In order to contribute to the understanding of the origin of biaxial nematic ordering in tetrapodes, a deuterium NMR study was performed on mixtures of monomers from organosiloxane tetrapodes with a deuterated nematic probe. Contrary to the tetrapode system previously studied, which exhibits a biaxial nematic phase, the results for monomers are compatible, within the experimental error, with uniaxial nematic ordering in the whole nematic range. The data are in agreement with the conjecture that the nematic biaxial behaviour is related to hindering of the mesogenic units' rotational movements, arising from interdigitation and connection to the central silicon core.

2007
Corvo, M, Pereira MMA.  2007.  Amino acids. 32:243–246., Number 2: Springer Abstract
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2005
Figueirinhas, JL, Cruz C, Filip D, Feio G, Ribeiro AC, Frere Y, Meyer T, Mehl GH.  2005.  Phys Rev Lett. 94:107802., Number 10 AbstractWebsite

Deuterium NMR is used to examine the molecular order exhibited by an organosiloxane tetrapode giving the first experimental evidence, using a bulk sample, for the existence of a biaxial nematic phase in this type of compounds. The temperature dependence of the averaged quadrupolar coupling constant and asymmetry parameter was determined in the compound's nematic phase. Two distinct regimes could be identified, one with a vanishing asymmetry parameter corresponding to a uniaxial nematic phase and another with a significant temperature dependent asymmetry parameter, corresponding to a biaxial nematic phase. The high values obtained for the asymmetry parameter at the lower end of the nematic range are well above experimental error and constitute a definite proof of the biaxial nature of the nematic phase exhibited by the studied compound for those temperatures.

2004
Alexandre, J, Feio G, Marvao MR, Figueiredo J.  2004.  Advanced Materials Forum Ii. 455-456(R. Martins, E. Fortunato, Ferreira, I., Dias, C., Eds.).:459-462. Abstract
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