Research Areas

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from anthropogenic origin have been identified as one of the main contributors to the current global warming that earth is experiencing. The International Panel on Climate Change predicts that in 2100 the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will be about 570 ppm, which will promote an increase of 1.5 °C in the average atmospheric temperature. These concerns have triggered the development of CO2 capture technologies to mitigate these emissions.

Solid acid catalysts appeared as a safer alternative to conventional liquid phase acids, namely HF and H2SO4, and since the 1940s have dominated relevant industry fields such as petrochemicals and oil refining. Zeolites are among the most widely used solid acid catalysts because they contain Brønsted and Lewis acid sites, shape selectivity and are thermally stable.

Approximately 40% of novel active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are rejected by the pharmaceutical industry due to low bioavailability. To address this, there are several strategies to increase the bioavailabitity of a given API: developing carrier systems to increase bioavailability and defend drug molecules against degradation or increasing the solubility through the production of multicomponent systems are two examples. By developing a variety of drug delivery systems (DDSs) it is possible to better control the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, toxicity, immunogenicity and efficacy of drugs.

New paper out! Involving MAS-DNP to study yeast cell wall glycogen structural features

In a collaborative international partnership, researchers from the groups SPECKO (CICECO) and Glycofoodchem (LAQV-Requimte) at the University of Aveiro, and the MagLab (Florida State University, USA) have joined in a multidisciplinary effort to unravel the role of yeast cell wall glycogen as a structural core during the brewing process.

In brewer's spent yeast (BSY), it is hypothesized that the covalent linkages among cell wall polysaccharides are responsible for the insolubility of cell wall glycogen. In this work, we combined High-Performance Anion Exchange Chromatography oligosaccharide analysis, solution-state NMR and MAS-DNP solid-state NMR techniques to elucidate the intricate features of S. pastorianus BSY's cell-wall structure. For the first time, this approach unveiled a detailed profile of glycosidic linkages and branching points within these complex carbohydrate structures of BSY cell walls submitted to serial repitching.

This collaborative work highlights the relevance of exploring NMR sensitivity-enhancement techniques (namely MAS-DNP) to study structural details in complex systems at isotopic natural abundance, which is not possible using conventional solid-state NMR methods. In early 2024, a state-of-the-art 400 MHz MAS-DNP spectrometer will be installed in the recently built NMR National Centre in the University of Aveiro´s campus.


Our group was well represented in Jornadas CICECO, through 8 poster presentations and 1 PhD pitch. Very interesting discussions and important topics were addressed during this day spent in the beautiful setting of Vista Alegre Museum.


Our team recently published a pioneering study in ACS Analytical Chemistry Journal, describing how 3D-printing methods can be used to produce affordable solid-state NMR parts, i.e., stator and RF coil.

Specko@MEDPore 2023

Team Specko was represented by Luís Mafra, Mirtha Lourenço, Ildefonso Marin, Marina Ilkaeva, Mariana Sardo and Daniel Pereira with 3 oral presentations and 2 posters at the 1st Mediterranean Conference on Porous Materials, held last week in Crete. It was a very fruitful meeting and the team had a good time exploring the island during the weekend.


Our most recent paper just accepted in JACS, describing how solid-state NMR may be explored to generate isotherms of CO2 adsorbed onto an amine-modified silica sorbent.


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