The projects of Sassari students awarded by the European Commission

The starting ideas born from Sa Sapa and from the color of carnations
valentina sanna emma camboni e alessio dore (foto ufficio stampa)
Valentina Sanna, Emma Camboni e Alessio Dore (foto ufficio stampa)

The project thanks to which three Sardinian students will go to Buca Imsef, the international science, engineering and music fair in Buca-Smirne (Turkey), in September is called "Sa sapa and Carbon Dots for fluorescent sweets".

They are Valentina Sanna, Emma Camboni and Alessio Dore, all born in 2003) and who attend the ITI GM Angioy in Sassari.

The students made the synthesis of fluorescent Carbon Dots (CDs) starting from Sa Sapa, a typical Sardinian product used as a base for various sweets, through a home microwave. "CDs - explain from the press office - represent a new class of nanomaterials particularly attractive for their properties and applications (for example in bio-imaging)".

The strategy is to identify a new sugar-based substrate as a carbon source needed to obtain CDs.

The maximum power of the microwave that many of us have in common kitchens, with a value close to those reported in the literature, prompted Emma, Valentina and Alessio to carry out the synthesis with Sa Sapa and molasses (passivating agent) in different experiments by varying the ratios mass and exposure times. “The evidence of the formation of CDs manifests itself when, after about ten seconds, an intense glow allows us to hypothesize that the process is taking place. Consequently, at the end of the test, the dark brown sample obtained is treated to verify its fluorescence on suitably diluted samples, using the school-based UV-Vis lamp ".

Thus the confirmation emerged that Sa Sapa has the necessary characteristics to be chosen as a substrate to be included among those currently in use for the synthesis of CDs.

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But there are two other students, also from Iti GM Angioy of Sassari, who have reached an important milestone, that is to participate in GYSTB 2021, the fair for young people in science and technology, online, in Hong Kong, on 19 and June 20, thanks to the "Sweeter Carnation ... More colorful Carnation?" Project. They are Antonio Gaspa and Fabio Sanna (both born in 2003).

“The color of the flowers - reads the note explaining what has been done - is influenced by the presence of pigments including anthocyanins, belonging to polyphenols and specifically to flavonoids. In the flowers the anthocyanins give life to the colors orange, red, purple, blue, all influenced by both physical (light, temperature) and chemical (pH, sugars) factors. The aim of the project is to evaluate the intensity of the color of carnations tending to purple, immersed in an aqueous solution of sucrose. The goal is to relate the results obtained to the pigments, responsible for a greater liveliness in the color of carnations after treatment.

The two students took photographs of the samples using a smartphone camera. "Knowing that the constituent pixels of the photos provide the colorimetric information for three fundamental channels, red (R), green (G) and blue (B), the approach was to analyze the photos, represented in RGB format with some MATLAB script. These, specially designed for the application, allowing to isolate the pixels representing the petals of the flower, identify the frequency of appearance in the R and B channels ".

The results obtained through the algorithm thus elaborated “allow to highlight the color variation in terms of intensity after the treatment, confirming the visual observation. The greatest variation can be seen with a 10% sucrose solution ”. For Antonio and Fabio this is due to an accumulation of anthocyanins as reported in the literature. As a further confirmation, a better maintenance of the treated flower is obtained, explained by the antioxidant properties of the anthocyanins.

So the experiment confirms that the sweetest carnation is the most colorful.

(Unioneonline / ss)

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