A group of researchers from the Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering has developed and patented a new molecular synthesis process derived from a natural compaund: serinol (2-amino, 1,3-propanediol). The source product of this class of compounds is the serinolpyrrole, which is obtained by a reaction between serinol and diketone. The yield of the synthesis is more than 95%,there is no need of catalysts or solvents and the only by-product is the water. Almost all of the reagents atoms end up in the product and the synthesis is thus characterized by an high atomic efficiency, in line with one of the fundamental principles of sustainable chemistry.
The most promising application of serinolpyrrole is currently the functionalization of carbon allotropes such as graphene, nanographene, carbon nanotubes and carbon black.
For example the last frontier of carbona nanofillers is the graphene, that is thin like a carbon atom and has electrical, mechanical and thermal features; this material, however, needs functional groups to be conveyed and compatibilized in means and matrices. The serinol pyrrole can address this challenge because it allows the preparation of stable dispersions of graphene and the other allotropes, in water and in environmentally friendly solvents, and the preparation of composite materials with intimate and stable interaction between the allotropes and polymeric matrices, without altering the structure of allotropes and thus their properties. This innovative technology has been developed in collaboration with leading companies in this field.