The Institute of the Chemistry of Organometallic Compounds (ICCOM), was formed in 2003 from the merger of the ISSECC institute based in Florence with three other research centers within the Departments of Chemistry of the Universities of Bari, Florence and Pisa. ICCOM has grown considerably in recent years, with the addition of a significant number of new staff members especially in Pisa and Florence.
The birth of ICCOM through the fusion of various research centers benefited directly the institute because it led to the aggregation of a vast network of collaborations and scientific expertise, both experimental and theoretical, which has continued to grow over the years.
Such expertise include; organic chemistry, inorganic and organometallic chemistry, physical and supramolecular chemistry as well as analytical and pharmacology chemistry. Theoretical and computational chemistry as well as the study of polymeric materials also form important areas of competency. Finally, there exists expertise in advanced spectroscopic techniques (magnetic resonance and optical) applied to the protection of the environment, health and the preservation of cultural heritage. ICCOM also benefits from the expertise of the URT established at the University of Trieste (2008: heterogeneous catalysis) and that of Camerino (2014: chemistry of porous materials).
The research network, shown in Table 1, is currently represented by over 380 collaboration agreements that extend geographically across 24 countries in 4 continents (Figure 1-3) and include diverse areas of scientific research with Universities, Research Institutions, Industry, consortia and other structures (e.g. museums). Such an extensive network of collaborations is the product of exceptional scientific activity and demonstrates the importance of ICCOM as an international institution within which operate not only the 50 researchers of the CNR, (28 at the headquarters of Florence, 21 at the UOS Pisa and 5 in the Bari UOS), but also the many students (fellows, postdocs, graduate students and visitors from other research laboratories) as well as numerous University Associates.
Table 1. ICCOM collaborations (February 2015).
Figure 1. Scientific collaborations with European universities and research institutions
Figure 2. Representation the most important scientific collaborations of ICCOM-CNR.
Figure 3. Breakdown of the scientific collaborations of CNR-ICCOM in different continents.
ICCOM's numerous collaborations are the fruit of an ambitious multiform research program that aims to place ICCOM at the cutting-edge in areas of high impact, primarily in the fields of sustainable chemistry and renewable energy.
Numerous prestigious national and international collaborations concern the production and storage of hydrogen and the production of electricity from solar energy; there are examples of collaborations involving the combined production of hydrogen and chemicals from renewable resources (Virginia, USA; MacDiarmid Institute NZ, Padua, Trieste), the design and construction of fuel cells with low or zero platinum content (Guangzhou, PRC; Cellera Inc., IL; Toulouse, F; Tokuyama Corp, J), the synthesis of new materials for hydrogen storage and its release "on demand" (Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, Rostock, D; EPFL, Lausanne, CH; Rennes, F; Cambridge, UK; Sevilla, E; Milan, Milan Bicocca; Camerino), the design and synthesis of new organic dyes for the preparation of DSSC solar cells (Siena, Perugia, Rome Tor Vergata; Gothenburg, S), the development of hybrid materials for photovoltaic applications and electronics (Erlangen, D; Reggio Emilia, Pisa, Rome Tor Vergata, Campobasso, Bari, Salento).
In addition; in the field of recycling of valuable components from lithium batteries (Consorzio COBAT Rome), in the development of technologies for CO2 capture and valuation through the functionalization of selective "target" molecules (Trieste, Padova, Bari ) and through homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic processes (Siena), photocatalytic (Bari, Trieste) and electrocatalytic (ETHZ, Zurich, CH) CO2 reduction for the production of C1 fuels. ICCOM also collaborates on the development of new non fossil hydrocarbon based chemistry (TU Wien, a; LIKAT Rostock, D; EPFL Lausanne, CH).
Of equal importance are the partnerships that involve research into the catalytic conversion of products derived from plant biomass into molecules with high added value, of interest to both the fine chemicals industry and for drug development, including the development of environmentally compatible selective and efficient catalytic processes [chemistry in water (Lens, F; EPFL Lausanne, CH; Almeria, E) and supported catalysts (Nippon Kodoshi, J ; Solvay Polymer, I)].
Another field where ICCOM is at the forefront and from which have grown notable collaborations, concerns the development of new methodologies and analytical instrumentation for the qualitative and quantitative determination of compounds present in trace and ultra-trace amounts for both biological and chemical applications. This includes; environmental analysis (NSC Ottawa, CAN; Florianopolis, BRA; Xiamen, PRC; Seattle, USA; Guanajuato, MEX; Pisa), materials science (Wroclaw, Kracow, PL; Twente, NL), industrial diagnostics (ENEL) and the conservation of cultural heritage (INSTM, Pisa, Florence; Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK). Advanced equipment, such as atomic spectroscopy, electrochemistry, chromatography, magnetic resonance, paramagnetic resonance (EPR: University of Pisa e Trieste; Universitad del Pais Vasco, E) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR: University of Pisa, Napoli, Salerno, Palermo, Milano, Firenze, Twente, NL; Jagellonian University, Gdansk and Istitute of Nuclear Physics, PL; Norwegian University e BIOFORKS, N; IIT Genova, I; Scuola normale superiore di Pisa), Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS: (ENEL, Marwan Technology, I; CBPF, BR), micro-Raman spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence and multispectral imaging, also coupled to innovative systems for photographic 3D reconstruction without laser, are available in our laboratories and are essential for the maintenance of collaborations with national and international partners.
There are numerous collaborations that arise from research into the chemistry of polymeric materials (BASF Polymers; Dow Chemical Company; Groningen NL; Pisa, Palermo; Condencia Chimica, E; Scuola Normale Superiore Pisa) and in particular in the synthesis and characterization of multifunctional nanocomposites (Sasol, D; Rouen, F; Aston, UK, Università di Milano, Napoli, Brescia, Padova, Milano e Genova, AIITPI, S; Avanzare, E) as well as the study of chemical reactivity under extreme conditions of pressure (LENS, ELETTRA Trieste; Grenoble, F). A number of collaborations exist in the field of theoretical chemistry aimed at the development of new models and computational methods for the study of systems and processes relevant to material chemistry (Graz, A; Mississippi, USA; Heyrovsky Prague, CZ; Tromso, N; Shan Dong, PRC; Università di Vigo, Murcia, Madrid e Malaga, E; Francoforte, Düsseldorf D, Nantes, F; Beijing, PRC; Rio Grande do Sul, BR; PENN, USA; KTH, S; Bauhus, IWR, D; ASCR, CZ; Queen Mary, UK; Coimbra, P; Università di Venezia, Reggio Emilia, Naples), energy (Pacific Northwestern NL, USA; Argonne NL, USA; Caltech, USA; Montpellier, F; Pisa, Naples, Florence) and in biomedical applications and pharmacological molecular sciences (Max Planck, D; CNRS, F; Pisa; Jyvaskyla, FL; Linköping, S; Göttingen, D; Toulouse, F; Girona, E; Lund, S; Humboldt, D).
Finally, it is important to mention the numerous collaborations often established over years of successful joint research, originating from the expertise of ICCOM in areas of molecular sciences applied to the synthesis, characterization and reactivity of inorganic compounds [phosphorus: ETHZ Zürich, CH; LMU Monaco, D; Regensburg, D; Kazan, RUS; Gdansk, PL. Chemistry of metal hydrides: INEOS Moscow, RUS; Oxford, UK; Turin], organometallic compounds [Irvine, USA; Vigo, Almeria, Barcelona, Valencia, E; Paris, Dijon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, F] and organic compounds [Rouen, F; Budapest, H; Geneve, CH; Bielefeld, D; Pavia, Milan Bicocca, Bologna, Pisa, Florence, Salerno, Bari].
In summary the many collaborations involving Universities (152) and Italian Research Institutions (67) are comparable both in terms of number and quality of the results produced with trans-national collaborations, involving a large number of Universities and foreign research institutions (121). Among the latter, of particular significance are the number are collaborations with institutions in Spain (26), France (23) and Germany (14) (Figure 1).
At the same time, strong collaborations exist with prestigious American universities (Harvard, Caltech, Seattle, Mississippi, Penn State, Brown, Northwestern, Chicago, and two national laboratories: Argonne Nat Lab, Pacific Northwestern Nat Lab). International collaboration also includes; Canada (NRC Ottawa), Brazil (São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Florianopolis), Russia (Kazan Federal University), China (Guangzhou, Beijing, Xiamen) and New Zealand (MacDiarmid Institute, Wellington).
Of great importance, especially for their intrinsic value of synergistic optimization of resources and expertise, are the numerous scientific collaborations with researchers from the CNR from other institutions of the DSCTM and other Departments and with researchers belonging to other public research institutes both Italian (ENEA, INFM) and foreign (Max Planck Institute, CNRS, CSIC, RAS (INEOS Moscow, Kazan, Arbuzov Institute, Kazan; Razuvaev Institute, Nihzny Novgorod).
The orientation of ICCOM to meet the needs and demands of the manufacturing world, in obtaining new technologies, new materials and synthetic routes, is evident in a large and growing number of collaborations with industry both Italian and foreign (44). Indeed, during the years 2011-2014 research contracts were underwritten with both Italian and foreign companies including, BASF, Sasol Germany GmbH, Enel, Dow Chemical Company, Thermphos Int. BV, Worgas, Belenos and Solvay Polymers.