The main research line of the lab is the synthesis and modification of magnetic nanoparticles for biomedical applications, exploring new compositions, synthetic strategies and surface modifications. In the past we have explored also applications for the oils & gas industry and, currently, a new research line on the use of metal oxide nanoparticles for catalysis is being developed.
Our research is mainly focused in the preparation of magnetic hybrid nanostructures that could be used for medical imaging and treatment of tumors. That includes understanding the procedures that lead to well controlled inorganic hybrids that can respond different stimuli and developing general synthetic routes for different magnetic materials. Magnetic nanoparticles are being extensively studied worldwide as contrast agents for medical imaging and as nanoheaters under alternating magnetic fields. Many intrinsic and extrinsic factors (e. g. size, crystallinity, magnetism, aggregation, colloidal stability, dispersion medium, applied field, interactions with biological media) can influence the efficiency of nanoparticles in biomedicine. Another topic of interest, also for biomedial applications, is the use of hybrid magnetic nanocomposites as antibacterial agents, given the growing concerns about bacterial resistance and the lack of alternatives to antibiotics.
We are also exploring the use of magnetically recoverable nanocatalysts for environmental applications. Magnetic nanostructures offer the possibility of acting as catalysts or as platforms that allow the recovery of a bound catalyst.
Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) are being widely used in the form of aqueous colloids for biomedical applications. In such colloids, nanoparticles tend to form assemblies, either aggregates, if the union is permanent, or agglomerates, if it is reversible. These clustering processes have a strong impact on MNPs’ properties that are often not well understood. Here, we study the impact of MNPs clustering on their magnetic and heating properties. In addition, a model system with MNPs of two different sizes coated with three different molecules has been characterized and the results used to support the ideas reviewed.
We are currently participating in three active projects funded by the regional government of Madrid (NANOFRONTMAG, ref. S2013/MIT-2850), the national government (MANATWEE, ref. MAT2015-71806-R) and by the European Comission H2020 programme (NoCanTher, grant agreement no. 685795).