This is the website of the NANO-JETS ERC Starting Grant Project (Grant Agreement number 306357) coordinated by Prof. Dario Pisignano at the Department of Mathematics and Physics “Ennio De Giorgi” of the University of Salento and at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory of CNR-Nanosciences Institute in Lecce, Italy. The research efforts of the Soft Matter Nanotechnology Group focus on micro- and nanotechnologies applied to soft matter, polymers, fluids and biomolecules through a highly interdisciplinary research program. In our broadest approach, we aim at the elucidation of the basic structural, rheological, fluidic, and optoelectronic properties of soft and plastic materials, the implementation of novel methods for patterning molecules and enhancing their functionality, and the realization and development of devices relying on organic building blocks, and especially polymer nanofibers. Controlling and manipulating organic systems at nanoscale is the key feature of the Converging Sciences Approach, merging organic materials science, advanced lithographies, nanophotonics and electronics, microfluidics, regenerative medicine and biomimesis, for fundamental studies and innovative processes, devices, and applications.
The NANO-JETS project ultimately targets the application of polymer nanofibers in new lasers. To this aim, it wants to tackle the still unsolved issues of the electrospinning process in terms of product control by means of the parameters affecting the dynamics of electrified jets. Electrospinning is based on the uniaxial elongation of polymeric jets with sufficient molecular entanglements, in presence of an intense electric field. It is a unique approach to produce nanofibers with high throughput. Notwithstanding almost two decades of research, the process is still largely suboptimal, and the most of nanofibers production is still carried out on an empirical basis. While being operationally simple, electrospinning is in fact complex, and the behavior of electrified jets depends on so many experimental variables making fully predictive approaches still missing. NANO-JETS aims to elucidating and engineering the electrospinning of solutions incorporating active materials, with a tight synergy among modeling, fast-imaging characterization of electrified jets, and process engineering. Once optimized with molecules or nanomaterials exhibiting optical gain, nanofibers will offer an effective, well-controllable and cheap material for building new laser systems. These architectures will enable enhanced miniaturization and portability, and enormously reduced realization costs.