The “Fluorine Expansion Initiative” springs out from one of the research lines of the Department that has been evaluated excellent at international level and targets the strengthening of the international leading role of the Politecnico di Milano in the field. The unifying theme of the research focus of this project is the unique structural behaviour of fluoroorganics both at the molecular and supramolecular levels. The key features of the project can be summarized under the headings design, synthesis, characterization, and application of fluorinated compounds in the areas of Health, Energy, and Sustainability.
“Health”: The main target will be the incorporation of halogen atoms into drug candidate molecules since it has been estimated that 50% of compounds in high-throughput drug screens are halogenated. The core of the task will be the synthesis, through new methods, of small molecules, as well as fluorinated peptides and proteins, and their structural analysis. Part of the work will be addressed to a better understanding of how halogenated molecules bind to biological substrates (in vitro and in vivo). This could open the door to more effective approaches to drug development and could help to rationalize the adverse effects of some chemicals which humans are commonly exposed to (such as polyhalogenated molecules).
“Energy”: The research will be devoted to the development of new fluorinated materials for organic photovoltaic cells targeted to the increase of durability and efficiency of photovoltaic devices.
“Sustainability”: The aim of this task of the project is to investigate new processes for the bioremediation of halocarbons by exploiting the ability of specific organisms (isolated from extreme environments) to naturally mineralize these toxic contaminants transforming them into benign materials.