Materials2016, 9(7), 515; doi:10.3390/ma9070515 (registering DOI) - published 25 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Non-equilibrium plasmas offer several strategies for developing antibacterial surfaces that are able to repel and/or to kill bacteria. Due to the variety of devices, implants, and materials in general, as well as of bacteria and applications, plasma assisted antibacterial strategies need to be tailored to each specific surface. Nano-composite coatings containing inorganic (metals and metal oxides) or organic (drugs and biomolecules) compounds can be deposited in one step, and used as drug delivery systems. On the other hand, functional coatings can be plasma-deposited and used to bind antibacterial molecules, for synthesizing surfaces with long lasting antibacterial activity. In addition, non-fouling coatings can be produced to inhibit the adhesion of bacteria and reduce the formation of biofilm. This paper reviews plasma-based strategies aimed to reduce bacterial attachment and proliferation on biomedical materials and devices, but also onto materials used in other fields. Most of the activities described have been developed in the lab of the authors.
Materials2016, 9(7), 516; doi:10.3390/ma9070516 (registering DOI) - published 25 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In this paper, a design for a 1 × 4 optical power splitter based on the multimode interference (MMI) coupler in a silicon (Si)–gallium nitride (GaN) slot waveguide structure is presented—to our knowledge, for the first time. Si and GaN were found as suitable materials for the slot waveguide structure. Numerical optimizations were carried out on the device parameters using the full vectorial-beam propagation method (FV-BPM). Simulation results show that the proposed device can be useful to divide optical signal energy uniformly in the C-band range (1530–1565 nm) into four output ports with low insertion losses (0.07 dB).
Materials2016, 9(7), 517; doi:10.3390/ma9070517 (registering DOI) - published 25 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Functional lignin–SiO2 hybrid fillers were prepared for potential application in binders for phenolic resins, and their chemical structure was characterized. The properties of these fillers and of composites obtained from them with phenolic resin were compared with those of systems with lignin or silica alone. The chemical structure of the materials was investigated by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) and carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (13C CP MAS NMR). The thermal stability of the new functional fillers was examined by thermogravimetric analysis–mass spectrometry (TG-MS). Thermo-mechanical properties of the lignin–silica hybrids and resin systems were investigated by dynamic mechanical thermal analysis (DMTA). The DMTA results showed that abrasive composites with lignin–SiO2 fillers have better thermo-mechanical properties than systems with silica alone. Thus, fillers based on lignin might provide new, promising properties for the abrasive industry, combining the good properties of lignin as a plasticizer and of silica as a filler improving mechanical properties.
Materials2016, 9(7), 519; doi:10.3390/ma9070519 (registering DOI) - published 25 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Vaccinium meridionale Swartz (Mortiño or Colombian blueberry) is one of the Vaccinium species abundantly found across the Colombian mountains, which are characterized by high contents of polyphenolic compounds (anthocyanins and flavonoids). The supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) of Vaccinium species has mainly focused on the study of V. myrtillus L. (blueberry). In this work, the SFE of Mortiño fruit from Colombia was studied in a small-scale extraction cell (273 cm3) and different extraction pressures (20 and 30 MPa) and temperatures (313 and 343 K) were investigated. Then, process scaling-up to a larger extraction cell (1350 cm3) was analyzed using well-known semi-empirical engineering approaches. The Broken and Intact Cell (BIC) model was adjusted to represent the kinetic behavior of the low-scale extraction and to simulate the large-scale conditions. Extraction yields obtained were in the range 0.1%–3.2%. Most of the Mortiño solutes are readily accessible and, thus, 92% of the extractable material was recovered in around 30 min. The constant CO2 residence time criterion produced excellent results regarding the small-scale kinetic curve according to the BIC model, and this conclusion was experimentally validated in large-scale kinetic experiments.
Materials2016, 9(7), 518; doi:10.3390/ma9070518 (registering DOI) - published 25 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study analyzed the shear bond strength (SBS) of resin composite on zirconia surface to which a specific conditioner was applied before sintering. After sintering of either conditioner-coated or uncoated specimens, both groups were divided into three subgroups by their respective surface modifications (n = 10 per group): no further treatment; etched with hydrofluoric acid; and sandblasted with 50 µm Al2O3 particles. Surfaces were characterized by measuring different surface roughness parameters (e.g., Ra and Rmax) and water contact angles. Half of the specimens underwent thermocycling (10,000 cycles, 5–55 °C) after self-adhesive resin cement build-up. The SBSs were measured using a universal testing machine, and the failure modes were analyzed by microscopy. Data were analyzed by nonparametric and parametric tests followed by post-hoc comparisons (α = 0.05). Conditioner-coated specimens increased both surface roughness and hydrophilicity (p < 0.01). In the non-thermocycled condition, sandblasted surfaces showed higher SBSs than other modifications, irrespective of conditioner application (p < 0.05). Adhesive fractures were commonly observed in the specimens. Thermocycling favored debonding and decreased SBSs. However, conditioner-coated specimens upon sandblasting showed the highest SBS (p < 0.05) and mixed fractures were partially observed. The combination of conditioner application before sintering and sandblasting after sintering showed the highest shear bond strength and indicated improvements concerning the failure mode.
Materials2016, 9(7), 513; doi:10.3390/ma9070513 (registering DOI) - published 24 June 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study presents an experimental overview for the development of photocatalytic materials based on geopolymer binders as catalyst support matrices. Particularly, geopolymer matrices obtained from different solid precursors (fly ash and metakaolin), composite systems (siloxane-hybrid, foamed hybrid), and curing temperatures (room temperature and 60 °C) were investigated for the same photocatalyst content (i.e., 3% TiO2 by weight of paste). The geopolymer matrices were previously designed for different applications, ranging from insulating (foam) to structural materials. The photocatalytic activity was evaluated as NO degradation in air, and the results were compared with an ordinary Portland cement reference. The studied matrices demonstrated highly variable photocatalytic performance depending on both matrix constituents and the curing temperature, with promising activity revealed by the geopolymers based on fly ash and metakaolin. Furthermore, microstructural features and titania dispersion in the matrices were assessed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-ray (EDS) analyses. Particularly, EDS analyses of sample sections indicated segregation effects of titania in the surface layer, with consequent enhancement or depletion of the catalyst concentration in the active sample region, suggesting non-negligible transport phenomena during the curing process. The described results demonstrated that geopolymer binders can be interesting catalyst support matrices for the development of photocatalytic materials and indicated a large potential for the exploitation of their peculiar features.