Studies on structure-properties relationship have been, since my PhD, the area of main scientific activity.
For a long time I have been involved in the structural characterization of organic, coordination and organometallic compounds aiming to correlate structure-property behaviour in compounds with electrical, magnetic, catalytic and non liner optical properties. I have been using Crystal Engineering as a tool for obtaining new materials with the above mentioned properties.
More recently my interests have turned to the use of Crystal Engineering principles and supramolecular synthesis to design and synthesize active pharmaceutical molecules with enhanced properties. Co-crystalization is being used to obtain new formulations more stable to moisture and temperature and with better solubility. Main aim is to improve bioavailability.
In the vast world of pharmaceutical compounds both academia and pharmaceutical companies have been searching for different solid forms, such as salts, molecular salts, solvates and particularly co-crystals to modify and stabilize the physicochemical properties of APIs, but none has been useful for controlling polymorphism.
Polymorphic studies on pharmaceutically relevant molecules, is also a major area of interest. A new pathway to control and avoid polymorphism is now being tackled recurring to ionic liquids.
Still searching for new and stable forms of pharmaceutically active molecules, a novel approach has been developed, the synthesis and characterization of bio-inspired Metal-Organic Frameworks, BioMOFs, using safe metal ions and active biomolecules as spacers or guests are underway. These systems are being designed for application in drug storage and delivery. This is again a new move towards enhancing the properties of these compounds, as this way it is possible to avoid the secondary toxic effects of using exogenous linkers and also to avoid the burst effect due to immediate release.
Besides conventional solution and solvothermal synthetic techniques, new green synthetic techniques are being applied in most synthesis referred above, with a major emphasis on mechanochemical and microwave synthesis.
Different techniques are being used in the characterization of the products obtained, with special relevance for X-ray powder and single crystal diffraction. Structure solution from single crystal data is a long term established activity within the group. Recently diffraction data on powder samples have been collected at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble and collaborations are now underway to start solving structures from powder data.