Chemical Education

Gender Equality




Mechanochemistry and Sonochemistry


In our lab we are fully committed with the principles of green chemistry. We use in-water, alternative solvents or  or solventless reaction protocols. We are equipped with a sonochemical reactor (260 W) and a planetary ball mill (50 mL stain less steel reactor with standard and aeration covers).



Benign by design: Catalyst-free in-water, on-water, green chemical methodologies in organic synthesis, M.B. Gawande*, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, R. Luque, P.S. Branco, R.S. Varma*, Chem. Soc. Rev. 2013, 42, 5522-5551.

Solvent-free and catalyst-free chemistry: A benign pathway to sustainability, M.B. Gawande*, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, R. Luque, P.S. Branco, R.S. Varma*, ChemSusChem 2014, 7, 24-44.




Polymer Therapeutics


Previous research work has been focused in the development of novel delivery systems for the controlled release of drugs (paclitaxel, doxorubicin, cis-platin) and genes (siRNA) using polyurea dendriemers. Undergoing research work explores polyurea dendrimers scaffolds for antimicrobial, antifungal, antimalarial (blood stage) and anticancer therapies. Ovarian cancer theranostics with special focus in early detection methodos, are also a top priority.




PURE dots: fluorescent polyurea dendrimers



We reported for the first time the synthesis of polyurea dendrimers. Taking advantage of using carbon dioxide as a solvent and as a reagent (C1 feedstock), polyurea (PURE) dendrimers were synthesised in supercritical carbon dioxide using tris(2-aminoethyl)amine as a mononer.

The incorporation of CO2 in the dendrimer backbone produces polymer with a blue emission, which intensity was found to be pH dependent. PURE-type dendrimers are water-soluble and biocompatible, showing no cytotoxicity even at high concentrations, the major drawback of reported dendrimers (e.g. PAMAM-type). Moreover, PURE dendrimers were found to form dendriplexes with siRNA (PUREG4-siRNA), being able to perform its deliver to cells with high transfection efficacy and efficiently shutdown the expression of a specific gene. Also, the PUREG4-siRNA dendriplex dramatically decline cell oxidative stress and cytotoxicity of the carrier system even at high concentrations when compared with PUREG4.


We also reported for the first time that POxylated polyurea dendrimers (PUREG4-OOxs) are highly effective materials for the preparation of fluorescent, pH-responsive, and water-soluble core–shell nanocarriers with IC50 lowering capacity. A 100-fold reduction of the IC50 of paclitaxel (Taxol®) was achieved using this novel vectors.

POxylated polyurea dendrimers: Smart core-shell vectors with IC50 lowering capacity, R.B. Restani, J. Conde, R.F. Pires, P. Martins, A.R. Fernandes, P.V. Baptista, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, A. Aguiar-Ricardo*, Macromol. Biosci. 2015, 15, 1045-1051.

Polyurea dendrimer for efficient cytosolic siRNA delivery, R.B. Restani, J. Conde, P.V. Baptista, M.T. Cidade, A.M. Bragança, J. Morgado, I.J. Correia, A. Aguiar-Ricardo*, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, RSC Adv. 2014, 4, 54872-54878.

Biocompatible polyurea dendrimers with pH-dependent fluorescence, R.B. Restani, P.I. Morgado, M.P. Ribeiro, I.J. Correia, A. Aguiar-Ricardo, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 5162-5165; Angew. Chem. 2012, 124, 5252-5255. 




Engineered gold nanoparticles and nano-in-micro dry powder formulations


POxylated Dendrimer-based nano-in-micro dry powder formulations for inhalation chemotherapy, R.B. Restani, R.F. Pires, A. Tolmatcheva, R. Cabral, P.V. Baptista, A.R. Fernandes, T. Casimiro, V.D.B. Bonifácio*, Ana Aguiar-Ricardo*, ChemistryOpen, 2018, 7(10), 772-779.

Nano-in-micro POxylated polyurea dendrimers and chitosan dry powder formulations for pulmonary delivery, R.B. Restani, A.S. Silva, R.F. Pires, R. Cabral, I.J. Correia, T. Casimiro, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, A. Aguiar-Ricardo*, Part. Part. Syst. Charact. 2016, 33, 851-858. IF= 4.370.

Nanogold POxylation: Towards always-on fluorescent lung cancer targeting, A.S. Silva, M.C. Silva, S.P. Miguel, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, I.J. Correia, A. Aguiar-Ricardo*. RSC Adv. 2016, 6, 33631-33635.

Design of oligoaziridine-PEG coatings for efficient nanogold cellular biotagging, A.S. Silva, V.P. Raje, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, P.S. Branco, P.F.B. Machado, I.J. Correia, A. Aguiar-Ricardo*, RSC Adv. 2015.






Natural melanin: a potential pH-responsive drug release device, M. Araujo, R. Viveiros, T.R. Correia, I.J. Correia, V.D.B. Bonifacio, T. Casimiro, A. Aguiar-Ricardo*, Int. J. Pharm. 2014, 469, 140-145.

Development of functional mesoporous microparticles for controlled drug delivery, R.B. Restani, V.G. Correia, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, A. Aguiar-Ricardo*, J. Supercrit. Fluid. 2010, 55, 333-339.




Sensors & Green Photovoltaics


The research developed in the last years has been dedicated to the synthesis of polymer-based fluorescent  sensors. The undergoing research work is devoted to the synthesis of fullerene-based oxygen and temperature luminescent  sensors and novel polymer architectures for the design of biomimetic electronics (photodiodes and organic supercapacitors).




Detection of trace explosives and chemical weapons





Polyurea dendrimer-perylene self-imprinted nanoshells for trace explosives detection, A. Braganca, M. Araujo, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, Part. Part. Syst. Charact. 2015, 32, 98-103.

Ultrasensitive microchip sensor based on boron-containing polyfluorene nanofilms, C. Ribeiro*, P. Brogueira, G. Lavareda, C.N. Carvalho, A. Amaral, L. Santos, J. Morgado, U. Scherf, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, Bionsen. Bioelectron. 2010, 26, 1662-1665.

Polyfluorenes with on-chain dibenzoborole units - synthesis and anion-induced photoluminescence quenching, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, J. Morgado, U. Scherf, J. Polym. Sci. Part A: Polym. Chem. 2008, 46, 2878-2883.




Detection of intracellular zinc and copper Fluorescent polymer biotags




Dual on-off and off-on switchable oligoaziridine biosensor, V.P. Raje, P.I. Morgado, M.P. Ribeiro, I.J. Correia, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, P.S. Branco, A. Aguiar-Ricardo*, Biosen. Bioelectron. 2013, 39, 64-69.

Blue emission of carbamic acid oligooxazoline biotags, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, V.G. Correia, M.G. Pinho, J.C. Lima, A. Aguiar-Ricardo*, Mat. Lett. 2012, 81, 205-208.




Detection of bisphenol A 


Supercritical CO2-assisted synthesis of an ultrasensitive amphibious quantum dot-molecularly imprinted sensor, A. Lourenço, R. Viveiros, A. Moro, J.C. Lima, V.D.B. Bonifacio*, T. Casimiro*, RSC Adv. 2014, 4, 63338-63341.








• Just in time dendrimers. PTDC/CTM/099452/2008. € 102k.

• Artificial leaves. EXPL/CTM-ENE/1502/2013. € 50k.

• Dendrimer-based Report-Eradication Antineoplasic Machines. PTDC/MEC-ONC/29327/2017. 235k €.


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