Virtual Seminar"Biotechnological applications of cellulose-based soft materials"Davide Califano
Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics (Shen) Unit would like to invite you to the virtual seminar by Dr. Davide Califano on July 12 (Tuesday).
Date: July 12, 2022
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 984 0467 4413
Dr. Davide Califano
PhD, Scientist, Researcher
University of Bath
Biotechnological applications of cellulose-based soft materials
The rapid growth of synthetic polymers market in the past decades has led to the accumulation of plastic and microplastics in the environment 1, threatening human health and marine ecosystems worldwide.2,3,4 Plastic production substantially contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions thus contributing to climate change.5 To mitigate plastic pollution, it is necessary to preplace synthetic polymers with biodegradable alternatives. In the past 5 years, I have been working on the exploitation of biopolymers for the creation of novel sustainable materials. Among those, cellulose represents one of the most promising alternatives due to its availability, low cost, and chemical versatility. Cellulose soft materials (hydrogels) were manufactured through film casting, extrusion, and membrane emulsification. Hydrogel structural features were characterised using electron microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and cryoporometry. Several surface modification routes were used to explore the potential of functionalised cellulose in biotechnological applications (i.e., wound management, enzyme immobilisation, industrial biocatalysis and cell scaffolding). Different enzyme immobilisation methods were designed to initiate and promote biocatalysis in hydrogels. The surface and internal porosity of cellulose materials were affected by cellulose grafting, suggesting distinct polymer aggregation. Surface modifications affected cellulose's ability to form polymer/polymer hydrogen bonding preventing self-assembly into highly packed and ordered regions. Cellulose/enzyme hybrids showed a sustained production of bactericidal hydrogen peroxide suggesting a potential use as antimicrobial materials. Enzyme activity retention has proved to be stable over time and storage, demonstrating that cellulose could be potentially used in industrial processes. The use of renewable and biodegradable cellulose-based materials could revolutionise the sustainability profile of the biotech industry. Pure, and highly crystalline cellulose, used for the preparation of advanced materials, is currently sourced from cotton. However, the production of cotton is considered unsustainable because of its extensive use of water, pesticides, and arable land.6,7 Exploiting new sustainable and renewable sources of cellulose is fundamental to satisfy the increasing demand for biomaterials. For example, microalgae biomass is considered an essential asset for a circular economy as it can be used to valorise nutrient-rich wastewater into commercially relevant biomass.8,9 My research ambition is to address the sustainability issues related to the production of novel advanced materials used by the biotech industry.
My scientific background is multidisciplinary, beginning my academic career studying food chemistry and technology for my BSc degree at the university of Naples “Federico II”. During my initial studies, I was mostly interested in the relationship between chemistry and life so, I enrolled for a molecular biology course at the university of Pisa. Here, I enjoyed studying life-science subjects including DNA recombination technologies, microbial physiology, and biochemistry.
In 2017, I started a Ph.D. at the university of Bath on the development of novel cellulose/enzyme hybrid materials. My research project concerned the design of suitable biodegradable materials in the view of mitigating the use of micro-plastics (considered one of the most alarming pollutants on Earth). Lead by the desire to operate in the field of sustainable chemistry I have started working as scientist at Naturbeads, a young start-up based at University of Bath. Currently, I am engaged in a project regarding the realisation of cellulose-based materials for biotechnological application including cell culture, enzyme immobilisation and protein separation. I am enthusiastic to be part of the “technology transfer” process from academia to industry as I believe it will enable us to bring scientific innovation a step forward.
My future goal is to continue working in the field of sustainable chemistry and biotechnologies to make industry and anthropic activities less harmful for the environment.
Prof. Amy Shen