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Research Lines

The present research program for the IMEM group has been divided into five main themes of research:


Organic based materials for supercapacitors. In recent years, most of our research has aimed at developing lightweight and environmentally friendly supercapacitors by combining conducting polymers and biopolymeric hydrogels, which have been used to fabricate flexible and compressible electrodes and/or solid (or semi-solid) electrolytic media.



Flexible and compressible electrode fabricated from biohydrogel (γ-PGA) and conducting polymers (PEDOT and PHMeDOT). Optical images of the device used to power the LED bulb. Ref. J. Phys. Chem. C 2018, 122, 2, 1078–1090. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b10738.


Contact: Prof. Carlos Alemán and Dr. Francesc Estrany.




Polymeric materials and devices for the detection of biomolecules, such as dopamine, glucose and morphine. Electrochemical sensors based on conducting polymers with different architectures and configurations, as well as on electrochemically responsive materials obtained by submitting insulating polymers to plasma treatments, are being developed. Devices for the simultaneous release and detection of therapeutic molecules are being fabricated combining conducting polymers and biohydrogels.


Flexible electrodes prepared by using polypropylene (PP) films and functionalized with polycaprolactone (PC)/poly(3,4-ethylendioxithiophene) (PEDOT) for dopamine detection. Ref.: J. Mater. Chem. B, 2020, 8, 8864. DOI: 10.1039/D0TB01259A.


Contact: Prof. Carlos Alemán and Dr. Maria del Mar Pérez-Madrigal.



Polymeric nanomembranes, nanofibers and nanoparticles for drug delivery, tissue engineering and ion transport. Supported and free-standing polymeric nanomembranes and nanofibers based on conducting polymers are used to stimulate cellular adhesion and proliferation by exchanging ions through the cell membrane. Nanoparticles and nanofibers are employed to release therapeutic compound through simple degradation-driven mechanisms, electrochemical stimulation, etc. Furthermore, bioinspired nanomembranes (FSNMs) for selective ion transport have been tailored by immobilizing β-barrel membrane proteins inside nanoperforations created in flexible polymeric membranes.


Free-standing nanomembranes for selective ions transport. Ref. Nanoscale, 2016, 8, 16922. DOI: 10.1039/C6NR04948F.



Contact: Prof. Carlos Alemán, Prof. Elaine Armelin and Dr. Joan Torras.



3D-printing of polymers (hydrogels, acrylates, polyolefins, etc.) and ceramics (hydroxyapatites, zirconia) with emphasis in the material functionalization with conducting polymers and/or active nanoparticles (AuNPs, AgNPs) for biomedical and sensor applications.




Polymer infiltrated ceramic network (PICN) prepared with robocasting of yttrium-zirconia and further dip-coating polymerization of Bis-GMA/TEGDMA adhesive for dental applications. Ref. Additive Manufacturing 39 (2021) 101850. DOI: 10.1016/j.addma.2021.101850.


Contact: Prof. Carlos Alemán and Prof. Elaine Armelin.



Protection of stainless steel, aluminum and magnesium alloys. Although much of the work in this field is done for companies, the causes of metallic corrosion and the design of new organic and hybrid coatings to fight against this kind of damage have attracted our attention in the last decades. Among others, coatings based on electroactive paints, in which conducting polymers are used to replace totally or partially conventional inorganic anticorrosive additives, sol-gel coatings based on silica, phosphonates and clays, and laser ablation treatments to create superhydrophobic surfaces, have been proposed as promising protective tools.


Laser ablation of stainless steel and coating deposition to create superhydrophobic metal surfaces to avoid corrosion phenomena. Adv. Eng. Mater. 2018, 1700814- DOI: 10.1002/adem.201700814.



Contact: Prof. Elaine Armelin, Prof. Carlos Alemán and Dr. José Ignacio Iribarren.



The self-assembly of peptides and peptide-conjugates has been the focus on this theme in the last years. Particular, special emphasis has been put in dendritic self-organized structures formed by short phenylalanine (Phe) derivatives and Phe-containing peptide-polymer conjugates. Peptides and conjugates are synthesized by the groups of Prof. Cativiela (University of Zaragoza) and Prof. Puiggalí (UPC), respectively. 


Self-assembly dendritic peptides prepared from functionalized phenylalanines. Ref. Soft Matter, 2016, 12, 5475. DOI: 10.1039/C6SM00337K.



Contact: Prof. Carlos Alemán.


In silico simulations to predict and interpret laboratory experiments. Quantum mechanics (QM), classical molecular mechanics (MM), molecular dynamics (MD), and hybrid QM/MM-MD simulations are routinely done to predict the behavior of the chemical species and/or interpret the experiments associated to the previously described research themes. In addition, new methodological developments on the QM/MM approach are performed, with special emphasis on the synergetic interactions of multiple quantum regions of large biomolecular systems (maz-QM/MM-MD) are performed. 

The group also works in the development of software like PUPIL, a QM/MM MD simulation tool; and SuSi, a builder of complex polymeric matrices.


Chicken egg white lysozyme imbibed in poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) matrix (left). Software scheme to simulate the multiple quantum regions within the QM/MM-MD approach (right). Ref. Chem.Commun., 2018, 54, 2118. DOI: 10.1039/C7CC09512K.



Contact: Dr. Joan Torras and Dr. David Zanuy.