Gabriella Cavallo is Assistant Professor at Politecnico di Milano. She obtained her PhD in Chemistry in 2006 at the University of Salerno. After two years of activity in Pirelli Labs, a research unit of Pirelli S.p.A., she joined the the Department of Chemistry, Materials, and Chemical Engineering “G. Natta”, at the Politecnico di Milano in 2008 as a post-doctoral researcher, then she became assistant professor in 2012 at the same University. She was Team Leader at the “Center for Nano Science and Technology of IIT@POLIMI”, at IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in 2010. In 2011 she was visiting researcher at the VTT – Technical Research Centre of Finland.
Gabriella Cavallo’s research interests are in the field of recognition and self-assembly phenomena occurring among haloorganic systems, and their application for the design of innovative functional materials. As a part of her interest in self-assembled systems, she especially focused on the study of the structure-property relationships in self-assembled hybrid fluorocarbon/hydrocarbon materials. Her research activity has been devoted to the design and synthesis of new functional materials, their structural characterization and the way to control and tune their functional properties via the control of the intermolecular interactions responsible for the supramolecular structure.
In particular she has been applying the concept of halogen bonding to the construction of both new non-linear optical materials and fluorinated liquid crystals assembled from non-mesomorphic building blocks. Various types of new liquid crystalline systems have been prepared and studied by Dr. Cavallo who aimed at exploiting the modularity of the bottom-up approach based on halogen bond in order to introduce new functionalities in the final supramolecular liquid crystalline system. In this context she has been studying 1)fluorinated ionic liquid crystals for possible application as ionic conductors in electrochemical devices;2) light-responsive liquid crystals and ionic liquid crystals for applications in photonic and 3) new reactive liquid crystals suitable for incorporation in liquid crystalline elastomers.
Polymeric systems self-assembled under halogen-bonding control have been also studied by dr. Cavallo. Here the synergistic use of halogen bonding and fluorophobic effect allowed to obtain ordered nanostructured polymeric materials, for possible application as nanofabrication templates. Moreover light-responsive supramolecular polymers, showing photo-induced surface patterning, were also obtained using azobenzene derivatives as halogen-bond donor sites.
She is also interested in fluorine chemistry and the use of fluorinated molecules to control the wettability of nanostructured surfaces. Her research in this field focuses mainly on the use of Hydrophobins, a class of surface-active and film-forming proteins, as a nanosized primer layer for stabilizing fluorinated coatings on apolar polymeric surfaces in order to change their wettability. The design and synthesis of new fluorinated molecules characterized by a highly branched structure, as a “greener” alternative to linear long-chain perfluorocarbons, for the development of super-repellent and self-cleaning surfaces and 19F-tracers for bioimaging purposes is another topic of her research in this field.
She is author of 54 original papers published in major international peer-reviewed multi-disciplinary scientific journals. She is co-founder of the Politecnico di Milano Spin-Off named "FluorIT S.r.l." She is organizer or co-organizer of international/national conferences and workshops.