Enrico Mugnaioli attended Degree and PhD studies at the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Siena, Italy. During PhD, he worked on Electron Crystallography and Mineralogy of asbestos.
From October 2007 to February 2014 he worked at the Electron Microscopy Center of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. He collaborated with several public an d private research institutions providing crystallographic and TEM expertise. He was one of the first developer and user of the Automated Diffraction Tomography (ADT), for the acquisition of 3D electron diffraction data from single nanocrystals. By using ADT, he investigated the structure of a number of new crystalline materials, among which nanoparticls, minerals, synthetic organic and inorganic compounds, pharmaceuticals and bio-materials.
From 2010 to 2014 he worked on the proposal and development of a project dedicated to the structure characterization of nanocrystalline porous materials by ADT.
From 2013 to 2017 he is PI of the Italian national project FIR Exploring the nanoworld, coordinating two research units located in Siena and Pisa. The project is dedicated to the crystallographic and isotopic characterization of nanocrystalline materials of geologic, synthetic and extra-terrestrial origin. In the same period he attends a Researcher position at the Department of Physical Sciences, Earth and Environment of the University of Siena. In 2014 he got the Italian National Habilitation for Professorship in the class 04/A1 - Geochemistry, mineralogy, petrology, volcanology, georesources and their applications.
In 2016 he is External Collaborator for IIT@NEST, Pisa. He is involved in the commercial project Nanomegas for the development of electron diffraction data collection protocols for the characterization of sensitive materials, like organic and pharmaceuticals materials.
Since April 2017 he is attending a Post-doc position at IIT@NEST, Pisa. He is involved in the development and application of electron crystallographic methods for the structure characterization of nanocrystalline and beam-semsitive materials, with special focus on nanoparticles, porous materials, pharmaceutics and macromolecules.
Italian national project FIR-2013 Exploring the nanoworld
[currently under reporting at the University of Siena]
An important fraction of rocks and extraterrestrial materials consist of nanocrystalline minerals. While some phases form nanocrystals only in special conditions associated with fast cooling or shock events, others are always confined to the nanosize due to kinetic reasons or because related with weathering and biomineralization processes. Similarly, many novel synthetic phases, either produced in the development of advanced materials or found as polluting agents in industrial wastes and atmospheric particulate, appear as nanocrystals. Physical and chemical properties of such phases are strictly related with their crystal structure, which is then fundamental for understanding their potential use and toxicity.
Standard crystallographic techniques, as single crystal and powder X-ray diffraction, cannot be used to solve crystal structures when the sample is both nanocrystalline and polyphasic, or when only a limited amount of material is available. In the last years a novel technique based on tomographic acquisition of electron diffraction data, electron diffraction tomography (EDT), proved to be a reliable method for ab-initio structure characterization of nanocrystalline phases.
This project is devoted to the installation of the first EDT system in Italy, the improvement of routines for EDT data analysis and the set-up of experimental protocols dedicated to the analysis of geological materials. EDT will be used for the investigation of 1) fault rocks and slipping surfaces, typically formed by nanosized polyphasic assemblages; 2) micrometeorites, cosmic spherules and other extraterrestrial materials available only in micro-volumes; and 3) nanocrystalline synthetic porous materials for technological applications. A well-established EDT technique will deliver original insight into the nonoworld, significantly expanding our knowledge about petrologic and crystalchemical processes and at the same time propelling the development of advanced materials.
Current projects at the Center for Nanotechnology Innovation@NEST
Application of conventional and innovative electron crystallographic methods (diffraction, imaging and spectroscopies) for the exhaustive characterization of nano-particles, nano-devices and nano-composites developed for technological and medical applications.
Development of robust protocols for electron diffraction tomographic data acquisition from nano-crystalline and very beam sensitive materials, with particular focus on water-containing porous frameworks and pharmaceuticals.
Application of both kinematical and dynamical scattering theory for structure determination and refinement by electron diffraction data.
Detection of light atoms (down to non-deuterated hydrogen) in nano-crystalline domains.
Development of protocols for electron diffraction data acquisition and analysis specifically designed for the structure characterization of macro-molecules (proteins), that cannot be grown in single crystals suitable for X-ray methods.
Use of the cryo-transfer mounting method for the investigation of water and hydroxyl groups in nano-crystalline materials.
Study of nano-crystalline mineralogical phases of petrological and industrial significance, among which high-pressure synthetic phases, weathering and alteration products, bio-mineralizations, shock-induced metamorphic phases and extra-terrestrial minerals.