ISGS eSeminar, April 2023


Sol-Gel and Self-Assembly: a successful marriage that leads to programmable nanosystems 


Galo J. A. A. Soler-Illia 

Instituto de Nanosistemas, Escuela de Bio y Nanotecnologías,
Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina

The creation of highly controlled nanosystems with well-defined properties and response to external stimuli is one of the major challenges of current materials chemistry. In the last two decades, there has been an impressive ad-vance in the creation of complex materials with hierarchical architectures at different length scales that mimic the com-plexity of Nature. 

The combination of sol–gel synthesis, self-assembly and localized chemistry opens a novel synthetic platform. Nov-el systems can be obtained, composed of well-defined functional domains that can intercommunicate to transduce signals between different regions. The properties of these nanosystems are tuned by the nature and the relative loca-tion of organic, biological or nanoscale building blocks. We can achieve a multiscale nanofacility, in which positional chemistry can be harnessed from the molecular to the mesoscale or micron level. 

Mesoporous materials (MM) that display high surface area, controlled mesopore arrays (2-50 nm diameter) and tunable surface constitute a fine example of complex nanosystems. The pore architectures and dimensions can be tailored, and “decorated” with a variety of molecular, bioactive or nanoscale components. Today, we can “program” the functions in the structures using confinement effects, responsivity, or collaborative functionality. These functions can be imparted into the structure through the control of the spatial arrangement of different nanobuilding blocks. 

We will present and discuss examples based on MM or multishell colloidal objects in which confinement, inter-action management and localized reactivity are the basic topological toolkit that enables their construction and tuned properties. The combination and feedback of synthesis, characterization and modelling leads to pre-designed nanosystems with responsive and autonomous behaviour programmed in their structure at different length scales (molecular, mesoscopic, interfacial). We can choose the role of the different nanosystem regions in order to communicate or transduce a given stimulus to a selected response, e.g. light→heat→size, light→sound, water condensation→reflectivity, chemical reaction→macroscopic movement, (temperature AND charge) → molecule transport. This set of concepts permits us to build enzyme cascade hosts, remotely activat-ed nanoparticles, chemical-to-optical transducers, perm-selective membranes or simple systems that can make logical operations or eventually, take decisions.

These chemical strategies are key to design and produce a potentially infinite variety of intelligent matter with controllable behaviour, with wide applicability in bioinspired catalysis, wearable sensing, energy harvesting, prosthetics, theranostics, soft robotics or synthetic biology. 

It is our pleasure to invite you to join the ISGS eSeminar for April 2023, which will be delivered by Professor Galo Soler-Illia on Wednesday 12 April. Galo is the foundation Dean of the Instituto de Nanosistemas and is a Superior CONICET Researcher in Materials Chemistry, Nanotechnology and Surface Chemistry and was re-cently elected by our community as a member of the ISGS Board of Directors. Please click here and here to learn more about his other achievements and interesting career journey, including his contributions to both the professional and social fabric of our sol-gel and materials science community. 


Date: Wednesday 12 April 2023


  • ZOOM (eSeminar link), Meeting ID: 307 291 6432 Passcode: 7Vr3%3Fk


  • 08:00 – Ottawa, USA, East Coast
  • 09:00 – Brazil (São Paulo) and Argentina
  • 12:00 – UTC
  • 13:00 – UK, Portugal
  • 14:00 – Central Europe, Sweden, Norway
  • 15:00 – Romania, Israel, Eastern Europe, Ukraine
  • 15:00 – Russia (Moscow, St Petersburg)
  • 20:00 – China, Singapore, Malaysia
  • 21:00 – Japan, Korea
  • 22:00 – Australia (East Coast)