Publications of excellent quality of the SIMAU Department researchers, year 2023 – SECOND SEMESTER

Giulia Orilisi, Flavia Vitiello, Valentina Notarstefano, Michele Furlani, Nicole Riberti, Riccardo Monterubbianesi, Tiziano Bellezze, Guglielmo Campus, Florence Carrouel, Giovanna Orsini, Angelo Putignano, “Multidisciplinary evaluation of the remineralization potential of three fluoride-based toothpastes on natural white spot lesions”, Clinical Oral Investigations (Open Access), Published: 19 October 2023.
Abstract: Objectives: This in vitro study aimed assessing the remineralization potential of three commercial fluoride-based toothpastes in permanent teeth with natural white spot lesions (WSLs). A multidisciplinary approach based on Raman microspectroscopy (RMS), Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS), and Vickers microhardness (VMH) was exploited. Methods: N = 12 human molars with natural WSLs in the proximal-vestibular zone were selected and divided into 4 groups (n = 3) according to the different treatments: HAF (hydroxyapatite with fluoride ions); SMF (sodium monofluorophosphate with arginine); SF (sodium fluoride with enzymes), and CTRL (untreated group). All toothpastes tested contained 1450 ppm of fluoride. Teeth samples were submitted to the following protocol: a 7-day pH cycling treatment, with two daily exposures (2 min each time) to the commercial toothpastes described above. The surface micromorphology (SEM), the chemical/elemental composition (RMS and EDS), and the Vickers microhardness (VMH) were evaluated. Statistical analysis was performed. Results: A remarkable remineralization of WSLs in SEM images was observed in all treated groups compared to CTRL. In particular, HAF and SF displayed higher values of VMH, phosphates amount (I960), crystallinity (FWHM960), and lower ones of C/P (I1070/I960) with respect to CTRL. Intermediate values were found in SMF, higher than CTRL but lower with respect to HAF and SF. As regards the Ca/P ratio, statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) were found between SF and the other groups. Conclusions: All the tested dentifrices have shown to remineralize the WSLs. SF and HAF have comparable capability in hardness recovery and crystallinity; however, SF shows the best remineralizing potential according to both micromorphological and chemical analyses. Clinical relevance The daily use of toothpastes containing hydroxyapatite partially replaced with fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate with arginine and sodium fluoride toothpaste associated with enzymes represents a preventive, therapeutic, effective, and non-invasive tool for remineralize WSLs.  
Mattia Gaiolini, Nicolò Colombani, Micòl Mastrocicco, Matteo Postacchini “Seawater intrusion assessment along the Volturno River (Italy) via numerical modeling and spectral analysis”, Journal of Hydrology, Volume 626, November 2023, 130289.
Abstract: Surface and groundwater salinization are becoming a significant challenge to inland water quality, negatively affecting people and ecosystems in coastal areas. Even if rivers provide critical pathways for seawater intrusion, this salinization phenomenon has received relatively little attention compared to other salinization mechanisms. To assess the distribution of salinity along the final reach of the Volturno River (Italy), an entire hydrologic year was modeled using the HEC-RAS software. The model was fed with high resolution time-series measurements (time interval of 10 min) of water surface elevations at both river mouth and Cancello Arnone (a hydrometric station located 13 km inland). Field observations and remote sensed data were used to perform the hydrodynamic analysis. The model showed good performance indicators (R2 = 0.878, NSE = 0.870, and MAE = 0.037 m) and well caught hydrometric variation over the simulation period. The tidal component was affected by dissipation moving upstream and showed the capability to shape the salinity profile during dry periods. Whereas during wet periods, even if a strong tidal component is present, the profile is totally regulated by the river discharge. The analysis of the salinity distribution, modelled via the Water Quality module, revealed the massive contribution of the river discharge in limiting seawater intrusion. A correlation between intrusion events and hydrometric stages was established over twenty years (2002–2022), showing a consistent trend between intrusion occurrence and the surface water storage anomaly in the lower Volturno River calculated by Global Land Data Assimilation System (GLDAS) model. Although the 1D approach here used may lead to uncertainties in the reproduction of the involved hydrodynamic and salinization processes, the results are useful for the understanding of seawater intrusion in rivers, and may be utilized to study seawater intrusion in aquifers.
Luigi Alessandrino, Nicolò Colombani, Micòl Mastrocicco, “Modelling biogeochemical reactions triggered by graphene’s addition in a fertilized calcareous sandy soil”, Science of the Total Environment, Volume 898, November 2023, 165558.
Abstract: Graphene production has dramatically increased in the last years and new ways to recycle this engineered material need to be investigated. To this purpose, a reactive model network was developed using PHREEQC-3 code to quantify the relevant biogeochemical reactions induced by graphene scraps’ incorporation in a calcareous sandy soil. The numerical model was calibrated versus a complete dataset of column experiments in water saturated conditions using two different fertilizers, a synthetic NPK fertilizer and fertigation water produced in a wastewater treatment plant. Column experiments consisted of 50 cm columns filled with a mixture of graphene scraps (0.015 % dry weight) and soil in the first 10 cm, while the remaining 40 cm had only soil. The model performance was tested using classical statistical indices (R2, Modelling Efficiency, and Index of Agreement), resulting to be satisfactory. Besides, a simple sensitivity analysis via the perturbation of relevant parameters showed a low degree of uncertainty. The main outcome of this study was the quantification of the increased denitrification rate triggered by graphene incorporation into the soil. Moreover, graphene incorporation substantially increased soil CEC and DOC sorption capacity, demonstrating a good adsorption capacity for ammonium and organic compounds, thus decreasing nutrients leaching that represents a major concern related to agricultural practice. Indeed, Graphene incorporation increased by 40 % the CEC in the first 10 cm of the CSG_NPK column (2.50e−02 mol/L) respect to the CS_NPK column (1.75e−02 mol/L) and increased it by 150 % in the first 10 cm of the CSG_FW column (2.50e−02 mol/L) in comparison with the CS_FW column 1.00e−02 (mol/L). pH fluctuations were most likely due to the precipitation of Ca5(PO4)3OH, indeed the consumption of H+ ions could have triggered the pH lowering during the experiment. These results could be relevant for future graphene applications as a soil improver or as suitable material to enhance soil bioremediation in order to include graphene in a circular economy loop.
Luigi Alessandrino, Mattia Gaiolini, Francisco Aldo Cellone, Nicolò Colombani, Micòl Mastrocicco, Marta Cosma, Cristina Da Lio, Sandra Donnici, Luigi Tosi “Salinity origin in the coastal aquifer of the Southern Venice lowland”, Science of the Total Environment, Volume 905, December 2023, 167058.
Abstract: Groundwater salinization can be natural and anthropogenic in origin, although it often results from a combination of both, especially in low-lying coastal regions that are hydraulically controlled. This study proposes a method to assess the origin of salinity using environmental tracers in porewater, like Cl− and Br−, combined with depositional facies associations detected in sediment cores. Such integrated approach was tested in a target area south of the Venice Lagoon (Italy), where groundwater salinization is triggered by multiple mechanisms due to the complexity of the hydro-geomorphological environment. Batch tests were performed on sediment core samples from boreholes to quantify major anions and total inorganic N. Cl− and Br− porewater concentrations coupled with sedimentary facies association provided insights into the origin of groundwater salinity from a variety of sources, including past and present seawater intrusion, agricultural leaching, and evaporites. The strengths and limitations of the integrated approach are discussed to provide a pathway for improving water resource management and planning measures to prevent groundwater salinization in coastal areas.
R. Zamboni, L. Gauthier-Manuel, A. Zaltron, L. Lucchetti, M. Chauvet, C. Sada “Opto-microfluidic coupling between optical waveguides and tilted microchannels in lithium niobate”, Optics Express 31 (17), 28423 – 28436 (2023)
Abstract: This work presents a reconfigurable opto-microfluidic coupling between optical waveguides and tilted microfluidic channels in monolithic lithium niobate crystal. The light path connecting two waveguide arrays located on opposite sides of a microfluidic channel depends on the refractive index between the liquid phase and the hosting crystal. As a result, the optical properties of the flowing fluid, which is pumped into the microfluidic channel on demand, can be exploited to control the light pathways inside the optofluidic device. Proof-of-concept applications are herein presented, including microfluidic optical waveguide switching, optical refractive index sensing, and wavelength demultiplexing
F. Caimi, G. Nava, S. Fuschetto, L. Lucchetti, P. Paiè, R. Osellame, X. Chen, N. A. Clark, M. A. Glaser, T. Bellini “Fluid superscreening and polarization following in confined ferroelectric nematics”, Nature Physics, 19 (11), 1658 – 1666 (2023)
Abstract: The recently discovered ferroelectric nematic (NF) liquid-crystal phase exhibits a spontaneous polarization field that is both orientationally fluid like a liquid crystal and large in magnitude like a solid ferroelectric. This combination imparts this phase with a unique electrostatic phenomenology and response to applied fields. Here we probe this phase by applying a small electric field to ferroelectric nematics confined in microchannels that connect electrodes through straight and curved paths and find that the NF phase smoothly orders with its polarization following the channels despite their winding paths. This implies a corresponding behaviour of the electric field. On inversion of the electric field, the polar order undergoes a multistage switching process dominated by electrostatic interactions. We also find multistage polarization switching dynamics in the numerical simulations of a quasi-two-dimensional continuum model of channel-confined NF liquid crystals, enabling the exploration of their internal structural and electrical self-organization. This indicates that polarization alignment and electric-field guiding are direct consequences of fluid superscreening—the prompt elimination of electric-field components normal to the channel walls by polarization reorientation. This response mimics the behaviour expected for ultrahigh-permittivity dielectrics, but with patterns of charge accumulation and local ordering unique to fluid ferroelectrics.
Pérez Gutiérrez, Carmen Laura, Francesco Cottone, Cinzia Pagano, Alessandro Di Michele, Debora Puglia, Francesca Luzi, Franco Dominici et al. “The Optimization of Pressure-Assisted Microsyringe (PAM) 3D Printing Parameters for the Development of Sustainable Starch-Based Patches.” Polymers 15, no. 18 (2023): 3792.  September 2023
Abstract: The aim of this work was to develop sustainable patches for wound application, using the biopolymer starch, created using a low-cost 3D printing PAM device. The composition of a starch gel was optimized for PAM extrusion: corn starch 10% w/w, β-glucan water suspension (filler, 1% w/w), glycerol (plasticizer, 29% w/w), and water 60% w/w. The most suitable 3D printing parameters were optimized as well (nozzle size 0.8 mm, layer height 0.2 mm, infill 100%, volumetric flow rate 3.02 mm3/s, and print speed 15 mm/s). The suitable conditions for post-printing drying were set at 37 °C for 24 h. The obtained patch was homogenous but with low mechanical resistance. To solve this problem, the starch gel was extruded over an alginate support, which, after drying, becomes an integral part of the product, constituting the backing layer of the final formulation. This approach significantly improved the physicochemical and post-printing properties of the final bilayer patch, showing suitable mechanical properties such as elastic modulus (3.80 ± 0.82 MPa), strength (0.92 ± 0.08 MPa), and deformation at break (50 ± 1%). The obtained results suggest the possibility of low-cost production of patches for wound treatment by additive manufacturing technology.
Pérez Gutíerrez, Carmen Laura, Alessandro Di Michele, Cinzia Pagano, Debora Puglia, Francesca Luzi, Tommaso Beccari, Maria Rachele Ceccarini et al. “Polymeric Patches Based on Chitosan/Green Clay Composites and Hazelnut Shell Extract as Bio-Sustainable Medication for Wounds.” Pharmaceutics 15, no. 8 (2023): 2057. July 2023
Abstract: Hazelnut shells, the main waste deriving from hazelnut processing, represent an interesting source of active molecules useful in pharmaceutics, although they have not yet been examined in depth. A hydrosoluble extract (hazelnut shell extract, HSE) was prepared by the maceration method using a hydroalcoholic solution and used as the active ingredient of patches (prepared by casting method) consisting of composites of highly deacetylated chitosan and green clay. In vitro studies showed that the formulation containing HSE is able to stimulate keratinocyte growth, which is useful for healing purposes, and to inhibit the growth of S. aureus (Log CFU/mL 0.95 vs. 8.85 of the control after 48 h); this bacterium is often responsible for wound infections and is difficult to treat by conventional antibiotics due to its antibiotic resistance. The produced patches showed suitable tensile properties that are necessary to withstand mechanical stress during both the removal from the packaging and application. The obtained results suggest that the developed patch could be a suitable product to treat wounds.
Gloria Cosoli, Milena Martarelli, Alessandra Mobili, Francesca Tittarelli, Gian Marco Revel, Damage Identification in Cement-Based Structures: A Method Based on Modal Curvatures and Continuous Wavelet Transform, Sensors 2023, 23, 9292.
Abstract: Modal analysis is an effective tool in the context of Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) since the dynamic characteristics of cement-based structures reflect the structural health status of the material itself. The authors consider increasing level load tests on concrete beams and propose a methodology for damage identification relying on the computation of modal curvatures combined with continuous wavelet transform (CWT) to highlight damage-related changes. Unlike most literature studies, in the present work, no numerical models of the undamaged structure were exploited. Moreover, the authors defined synthetic damage indices depicting the status of a structure. The results show that the I mode shape is the most sensitive to damages; indeed, considering this mode, damages cause a decrease of natural vibration frequency (up to approximately 67%), an increase of loss factor (up to approximately fivefold), and changes in the mode shapes morphology (a cuspid appears). The proposed damage indices are promising, even if the level of damage is not clearly distinguishable, probably because tests were performed after the load removal. Further investigations are needed to scale the methodology to in-field applications.
Cecilia Carlorosi, Chiara Giosue, Van Anh Le Ngoc, Alessandra Mobili, Thi Nguyen Vu Trong and Phung Nguyen Huu Long, Fausto Pugnaloni, Francesca Tittarelli, Rehabilitation project of Quang Tri Old Citadel in Vietnam: integrated analytical approach from material characterization to architectural heritage valorization, Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 13 No. 4, 2023, pp. 570-593, DOI 10.1108/JCHMSD-02-2021-0028
Abstract: This paper presents the outcomes of the international project “Protecting Landscape Heritage:a requalification project as an instrument for the re-birth of Quang Tri Old Citadel in Vietnam”, achieved with scientific cooperation between the Università Politecnica delle Marche (Italy) and Hue University of Sciences (Vietnam) funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam. The research focuses on the Quang Tri Citadel, founded in 1809 and now in an advanced state of degradation. For the purpose of rehabilitation, the wide multidisciplinary project first examined the historical context of the military model, the architectural aspects of the structure, the characterization of the existing materials, the degradation levels of different parts, and, finally, a proposal of the suggested interventions.