Center for Colloid and Surface Science (CSGI)

CSGI (Research Center for Colloids and Nanoscience) was established in Firenze, in December 1993. It has been officially recognized by the Italian Government in 1994, and is under the supervision and control of the Italian Ministry for University and Scientific Research (MIUR). Since 1995 CSGI began its scientific activity, devoted to basic research and to the development of high-tech new processes, and is supporting the activities of the small and medium size business industrial companies, that cannot afford the financial costs of an independent research activity.

In the last 18 years, CSGI has sponsored several different research programs, mainly supported by European Union grants, and partly also by other international and national Institutions, such as the Italian “Articolo 10, Law 46/1982”, PRIN, PNR, FISR, FIRB, CNR, and so forth. CSGI has signed numerous contracts that involve about 75 national and international industrial companies, and some highly qualified research Centers, such as Procter & Gamble, Siemens, Tecnotessile SpA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pharmacia Upjon, Elf-Atochem, Ansaldo, Glaxo-Wellcome, Sintech, Inver, Cover, Tooling International Ltd, Industrial Materials Technology GmbH, MBN SpA, Inteti, Icmese, Comune di Firenze, VTT, etc.. Such lively activity has brought to several International Patents and research agreements.

CSGI has reached a very qualified standard, and its level has been acknowledged abroad, in several fields. For example, CSGI is a leader in a number of applications of Nanotechnology, in the conservation of cultural heritage, and in the production of nanophasic powders (with MBN) for the production of special materials for aeronautics, high resistance coatings, etc.

CSGI supports the local authorities for the safeguard and conservation of works or art (“Sovrintendenze Artistiche”) in Tuscany and other Italian districts, with a set of technologies that have been developed for this aim. Similar actions have been promoted in agreement with the Mexican Federal Government for the conservation of monuments (Puebla Cathedral, Maya and Aztec heritage, the archaeological site of Calakmul, Campeche).

CSGI is active also in the training of specialized researchers, has granted several fellowships, PhD supporting programs, post-doc grants, and other education projects, and has organized several national and international Meetings. In particular, during the year 2010, CSGI has issued 10 PhD scholarships, 42 fellowships, and 7 postdoc grants, and is actively participating in two European Master Programs: EMASCO-COSOM (European Master in Supramolecular and Colloidal Chemistry) and IMES (International Master on Bioenergy and Environment).

CSGI has co-sponsored national and international congresses (International Workshop on Dynamic Crossover Phenomena in Water and Other Glass-forming Liquids and CSGI National Meeting). Every year CSGI members gather for the Annual Meeting, where the scientific results are presented and discussed, as oral communications or poster presentations. The scientific results accomplished by CSGI are also presented in the biennal report, whose downloadable versions are available online.

The CSGI financial plan is solid, with a strong growth of its financial assets, mainly due to EU funding.

The main topics of CSGI research activity are:

  1. Development of processes for the production of nanophasic systems, for the production of innovative textiles, for the synthesis of nanophasic alloys, ceramics and nanophasic or nanostructured composites (low temperature and low energy costs)
  2. Setup of new additives for cement products. These projects are mainly carried out in collaboration with Italcementi and MIT, and are aimed at investigating and optimizing the cement hydration process and the production of new, ceramics-like materials for the cement related industry.
  3. Formulation of dispersions in fluids, emulsions and inverted emulsions (paints, adhesives, sealing materials, detergents, etc.)
  4. Development of systems for the confinement of proteins and for the controlled release of pharmaceutics;
  5. Development of food-related industrial processes (for example the treatment of milk and milk derivatives in supercritical phase);
  6. Development of innovative procedures for the conservation and restoration of works of art (paintings, frescoes and stone-based materials). CSGI is a world leader in this research activity, and is involved in a significant campaign for the recover of archaeological treasures in Mexico (Calakmul), in the largest Maya sites, and with the Maritime Museum in Stockholm for the conservation of the Vasa ship. New methods are under development for the removal of polymer and grime from oil paintings (relining) in collaboration with the Louvre Museum (Paris). CSGI is currently involved in the conservation of Annunciation Grotto (Nazareth).

Role in the project

WP3 – The CSGI unit will be committed to the fabrication of thermodynamically stable multi-component nanocrystalline alloys by (i) powder metallurgy, (ii) hot sintering and (iii) severe mechanical deformation. In the case of (i), powder mixtures will be subjected to mechanical alloying by ball milling under suitable mechanical processing conditions. The preparation of alloy powders will be possibly followed by thermal treatment to stabilize the nanocrystalline structure obtained. In (ii), powder will be subsequently subjected to consolidation by spark plasma sintering to fabricate fully dense samples of metal alloys with nanocrystalline structure. In (iii), consolidated samples will be subjected to severe mechanical deformation by equal-channel angular pressing or high-pressure torsion to investigate the effects of mechanical stress on the thermodynamic stability of the nanocrystalline state.
WP4 – The CSGI unit will participate in the characterization of the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of the thermodynamically stable multicomponent nanocrystalline alloys fabricated. In particular, it will be committed to the quantitative analysis of powder and consolidated samples by small- and wideangle X-ray diffraction methods and to the measurement of fundamental mechanical quantities by indentation and nano-indentation methods in collaboration with other participant units. The CSGI unit will be also committed to strictly collaborate with the other units for the fabrication of samples in powder and bulk form on a pilot scale. It will be also involved in the optimisation of the available mechanical alloying and hot sintering methods, and in the identification of new more convenient and efficient ones.
WP5 – The CSGI unit will provide indications on the maximum possible thermal stability of the nanocrystalline alloys fabricated in order to enable suitable testing experiments.
WP6 – The CSGI unit will participate in the different sets of exploitation, dissemination and communication activities.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 713514.

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