Research Groups

RESEARCH UNIT: Smart Molecular Inorganic and Hybrid Materials

Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites Group (NN)

Our 2020 highlights are: i) fundamental and applied research on bacterial nanocellulose, ii) reporting on new theranostic polymeric nanocarriers, iii) advances on synthetic routes and structure/property studies of inorganic nanoparticles and finally, iv) achieving microstructuration on epitaxial quartz on silicon.

The Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites (NN) Group is an interdisciplinary group with diverse research interests but with a focus on the rational synthesis of nanoparticles, nanocelluloses, and nanocomposites and the study of their structural-functional properties including those related to the nano/bio-interfaces. Current activities are:

  • Inorganic and hybrid nanoparticles synthesis towards green chemistry approaches.
  • Stabilization of new oxide phases and their integration as thin films on technological substrates.
  • Bacterial nanocellulose-based materials and devices.
  • Electrochemical nanoparticle-based sensors for environmental monitoring.
  • elegans as an in-vivo model to evaluate nanomaterials and their biological effect.

The group vision is to advance in the knowledge of application-oriented nanomaterials in the fields of Nanomedicine, Information Technologies, or Energy and Environment. The NN members participate actively in science outreach and gender equality initiatives.


  • Prof. Anna Roig – Research Professor
  • Dr. Martí Gich – Tenured Scientist
  • Dr. Anna Laromaine – Tenured Scientist
  • Dr. Nico Dix  Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Dr. Vinod Vk Thalakkatukalathil –Postdoctoral Researcher 
  • Irene Anton Sales – PhD Researcher
  • Wenchao Duan – PhD Researcher
  • Jan Grezlack – PhD Researcher
  • Nanthilde Malandain – PhD Researcher
  • Amanda Muñoz Juan – PhD Researcher
  • Soledad Roig – PhD  Researcher
  • Sumithra Srinivasan – PhD Researcher
  • Miquel Torras – PhD Researcher
  • Yajie Zhang – PhD Researcher
  • Naureen Khanam – PhD Researcher
  • Ma Zheng – PhD Researcher
  • Darla Mare – Master Student
  • Cristina Mira – Master Student
  • Thomas Meslier – Master Student
  • Marc Cervantes – Master Student
  • Nerea Murugarren – Master Student
  • Andrea Stephany – Master Student
  • Rosa Puga – Project Manager

Images illustrating some of the studies from each highlight category.


The scientific achievements published this year remained focused on the processing and the development of application-oriented nanocellulose-based materials. Two examples are a study on bacterial cellulose and titania hybrids as cell carriers and a second one on its potential as a corneal therapeutic bandage. Worth noting achievements are two publications with the initial results from the Magnetic biomaterials for brain repair and imaging after stroke project. Regarding inorganic materials, we reported on ε-(Fe1-xCrx)2O3 and microwave synthesized Ag nanoparticles. Finally, we published a protocol for iron quantification by UV-Vis, a study of the polarization switching mechanism of ε-Fe2O3 epitaxial films and an assessment of the low-temperature magnetic properties of flexible mica substrates.

Concerning projects and collaborations; the ERC-FeMiT project has hired a new post-doc and two Ph.D. students and is setting up a THz spectrometry and magnetic resonance lab from scratch that is advancing at a quick pace. We are also excited about the new Llavor-AGAUR project where in collaboration with the Barraquer Ophthalmology Center we are developing bio-active cellulose patches for corneal injuries with the ambition to finally treat patients. Another important collaboration with end-users, in this case, the R+D Dept of BBraun Surgical, is the on-going studies on the use of bacterial cellulose as tissue reinforcement for hernioplasty.

Importantly, two PhD thesis have been defended this year: 

  • Zhongrui Luo “In vivo interactions between food availability and nanoparticles in Caenorhabditis elegans” supervised by Anna Laromaine
  • Yajie Zhang “Multimodal Imaging PLGA Nanocapsules as Protein Carrier for Potential Neurorepair in Ischemic Brain“ supervised by Anna Roig and Anna Rosell from Vall d’Hebron Research Institute. Yajie is now a post-doc at Shenzhen Univ. in China.


Bacterial Nanocellulose and Titania Hybrids: Cytocompatible and Cryopreservable Cell Carriers
Anton-Sales, Irene; Roig-Sanchez, Soledad; Jesus Sanchez-Guisado, Maria; Laromaine, Anna; Roig, Anna
ACS BIOMATERIALS SCIENCE & ENGINEERING 2020, 6, 9, 4893-4902, 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.0c00

Bacterial nanocellulose as a corneal bandage material: a comparison with amniotic membrane
Anton-Sales, Irene; D'Antin, Justin Christopher; Fernandez-Engroba, Jorge; Charoenrook, Victor; Laromaine, Anna; Roig, Anna; Michael, Ralph
BIOMATERIALS SCIENCE 2020, 8, 10, 2921-2930, 10.1039/d0bm00083c

Bacterial nanocellulose from agro-industrial wastes: low-cost and enhanced production by Komagataeibacter saccharivorans MD1
Abol-Fotouh, Deyaa; Hassan, Mohamed A.; Shokry, Hassan; Roig, Anna; Azab, Mohamed S.; Kashyout, Abd El-Hady B.
SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 2020, 10, 1, 3491, 10.1038/s41598-020-60315-9

Enzymically attaching oligosaccharide-linked ‘cargoes’ to cellulose and other commercial polysaccharides via stable covalent bonds
Klaus Herburger, Lenka Franková, Dayan Sanhueza, Soledad Roig-Sanchez, Frank Meulewaeter, Andrew Hudson, Axel Thomson, Anna Laromaine, Tatiana Budtova, Stephen C. Fry
International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 2020, 164, 1, 4359-4369, 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2020.09.039

PLGA protein nanocarriers with tailor-made fluorescence/MRI/PET imaging modalities
Zhang, Yajie; Garcia-Gabilondo, Miguel; Grayston, Alba; Feiner, Irene V. J.; Anton-Sales, Irene; Loiola, Rodrigo A.; Llop, Jordi; Ramos-Cabrer, Pedro; Barba, Ignasi; Garcia-Dorado, David; Gosselet, Fabien; Rosell, Anna; Roig, Anna
NANOSCALE 2020, 12, 8, 4988-5002, 10.1039/c9nr10620k

MRI/Photoluminescence Dual-Modal Imaging Magnetic PLGA Nanocapsules for Theranostics
Author(s): Zhang, Yajie; Garcia-Gabilondo, Miguel; Rosell, Anna; Roig, Anna
Source: PHARMACEUTICS Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Article Number: 16 DOI: 10.3390/pharmaceutics12010016

From Silver Plates to Spherical Nanoparticles: Snapshots of Microwave-Assisted Polyol Synthesis
Torras, Miquel; Roig, Anna
ACS OMEGA 2020, 5, 11, 5731-5738, 10.1021/acsomega.9b03748

Accurate iron quantification in colloids and nanocomposites by a simple UV-Vis protocol
Torras, Miquel; Moya, Carlos; Pasquevich, Gustavo A.; Roig, Anna
MICROCHIMICA ACTA 2020, 187, 9, 488, 10.1007/s00604-020-04454-w

Magnetic properties of Cr-substituted epsilon-(Fe1-xCrx)(2)O-3 nanoparticles with epsilon structure
Ma, Zheng; Romaguera, Arnau; Fauth, Francois; Herrero-Martin, Javier; Luis Garcia-Munoz, Jose; Gich, Marti
JOURNAL OF MAGNETISM AND MAGNETIC MATERIALS 2020, 506, 166764, 10.1016/j.jmmm.2020.166764

Magnetic properties of synthetic fluorophlogopite mica crystals
Zheng Ma, Vassil Skumryev, and Martí Gich
Mater. Adv. 2020, 1, 1464, 10.1039/D0MA00317D

Unconventional Ferroelectric Switching via Local Domain Wall Motion in Multiferroic epsilon-Fe2O3 Films
Guan, Xiangxiang; Yao, Lide; Rushchanskii, Konstantin Z.; Inkinen, Sampo; Yu, Richeng; Lezaic, Marjana; Sanchez, Florencio; Gich, Marti; van Dijken, Sebastiaan
ADVANCED ELECTRONIC MATERIALS 2020, 1901134, 10.1002/aelm.201901134

Micro/Nanostructure Engineering of Epitaxial Piezoelectric alpha-Quartz Thin Films on Silicon
Zhang, Qianzhe; Sanchez-Fuentes, David; Desgarceaux, Rudy; Escofet-Majoral, Pau; Oro-soler, Judith; Gazquez, Jaume; Larrieu, Guilhem; Chariot, Benoit; Gomez, Andres; Gich, Marti; Carretero-Genevrier, Adrian
ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES 2020, 12, 4, 4732-4740, 10.1021/acsami.9b18555

Outreach activities

  • High school visit within the program "A researcher in your classroom" at Institut de Llicà (03/02/2020) by Anna Roig
  • High-school students seminar at ICMAB “Bacteris Nanotecnòlegs” (INS Cassà de la Selva)(28/02/2020) by Anna Roig
  • Online talk on nanoscience on #VermutDeNanociència (09/04/2020) by Anna Roig
  • Online talk on "Biomaterials in nanomedicine" as part of the Research Night (27/11/2020) by Anna Roig
  • High-school students seminar on “Curiositat, materials que mimetitzen la natura” at INS Escola La Tordera, Santa Maria de Palautordera (15/12/2020) by Anna Laromaine
  • Interview on Tech Transfer Stories at ICMAB by Irene Anton
  • Online talk on “Un día en la vida de una nano-bio-investigadora” at Vermut de Nanociència by Irene Anton


  • Finalist at the Expoquimia Award in Biotechnology R&D&I with "Nanocellulose patches to treat corneal wounds" by Irene Anton, Anna Laromaine, and Anna Roig
  • UAB 2020 PhD Extraordinary Award to “Evaluating inorganic nanoparticles in the living organism Caenorhabditis elegans” by Laura González
  • Best poster and oral presentation at Aerogels for Biomedical and Environmental Applications, Santiago de Compostela (18-20/02/2020) by Wenchao Duan
  • Best oral presentation at the JPhD2020 meeting for the talk “Ophthalmological applications of bacterial nano-cellulose” (17-18/09/2020) by Irene Anton
  • 3rd prize of the Catalan Society of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (SCN2) Dresselhaus Awards for the poster “Preformation of a protein corona on superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with human serum albumin" by Remei Escudero
  • Finalist in the Biorender graphical abstract 2020 contest: Amanda Muñoz
  • Feature at the ”Científiques Catalanes 2.0” Exhibit by Anna Roig

Main projects

Ferrites-by-design for Millimeter waves and Terahertz Technologies (FeMiT)
H2020-EU.1.1 European Research Council (ERC), 819623
Marti Gich
05/2019 - 04/2024

Rising the Impact of Selected Engineered Bacterial Cellulose composites (RICE-BC)
Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades, RTI2018-096273-B-I00
Anna Laromaine, Anna Roig

Novel Nanocellulose Patches to Treat Corneal Wounds (CORNEAL-BC)
Ajuts LLAVOR. Agaur
Anna Laromaine, Anna Roig

Magnetic biomaterials for brain repair and imaging after stroke (MAGBBRIS)
Euronanomed III EURONANOMED2017-185
Anna Roig

Synthetic nanoparticles as an innovative treatment for sepsis (SPRINT4SPESIS)
Fundación Ramón Areces, XIX National Contest of Life and Material Sciences Research Grants
Anna Roig

NN Group is a member of the following networks:

  • Aerogels; COST Action CA 18125
  • The European Polysaccharide Network of Excellence (EPNOE)
  • CSIC- Interdisciplinary Platform for Sustainable Plastics Towards a Circular Economy (SUSTPLAST)
  • Nanomedicine Network for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Diseases with large social impact: cancer, atherosclerosis, infections (NanoCARE).
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Web & Graphic Editor
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