Calisi Nicola

Supervisor: Prof. Fabio Di Francesco

Title: Development of pH and temperature sensitive films for biomedical use

Abstract: My PhD project aims at developing sensors to be embedded in the dressing used for chronic wounds. These sensors will have to monitor the temperature of perilesional skin and pH of wound exudate. Further sensors will be developed within the project activities to monitor transepidermal water loss and ankle movements (dorsiflexion). Sensors will tested in the lab with a precision oven (temperature), standard solutions and in-vitro with exudate samples (pH), then medical doctors will run in-vivo trials with patients. This work will be carried out within an European project named “SWAN-iCARE” (
Most leg ulcers are caused by diabetes and vascular problems respectively, but a remarkable number of them are due to the collateral damage of many other diseases such as kidney disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, inflammatory Bowel disease and others. An aging European population and a high incidence of wound recurrence. Patients are currently monitored and treated in a hospital environment in a discontinuous manner in present time-intervals, for patients typically 1-3 times a week depending on the wound status and country medical protocols. These results in a variety of medical drawbacks for the patient, such as unusual evolution of the wound and higher possibility and late identification of infection while long hospitalization time (can be several weeks) is very costly for the health care system. The SWAN-iCARE system continuously monitors and treats ulcers outside of the hospital for a long time, at the point of need. The personalized therapy and the integrated alerting system are expected to result in faster wound healing and early detection of infection. Therapy at home is possible for a significant longer period. Thus, overall better therapy, at home is offered resulting in lower healthcare costs.

The monitoring of temperature is important because its increase is associated to the inflammation of the wound. An increase of pH is associated to an increase of the bacterial burden of the wound. The transepidermal water loss is an indication of the state of health of the skin. The movements of damaged limb increases drainage of tissues. All these parameters are sent in real time to doctors, who can remotely control wound conditions.

All the sensors will be based on nanocomposites sensitive materials responding to the variation of the variable of interest with a change of electrical resistivity. The polymeric phase of these nanocomposites will reversibly and reproducibly change its microscopic structure on the basis of ambient conditions, thus perturbing a percolative network of carbon nanotubes (conductive phase) and producing an electrical signal. Data will be acquired and sent in real time to a remote user by a dedicated electronics.


“Water sorption by anhydrous ionic liquids”
Fabio Di Francesco, Nicola Calisi, Matteo Creatini, Bernardo Melai,
Pietro Salvo, Cinzia Ghiappe

Green Chemistry, 2011

“Factors affecting the dispersion of MWCNTs in electrically
conducting SEBS nanocomposites”
Nicola Calisi, Alessio Giuliani, Michele Alderighi, Jan M. Schnorr,
Timothy M. Swager, Fabio Di Francesco, Andrea Pucci

Macromolecular Nanotechnology, 2013

"Current technology and advances in transepidermal water loss sensors.
In: W. Karlen & K. Iniewski, Mobile Point-of-Care Monitors and Diagnostic Device Design"
P. Salvo, B. Melai, N. Calisi, F. Di Francesco 
DEVICES, CIRCUITS, AND SYSTEMS, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014
ISBN: 9781466589292 - (in press)

Poster communication and oral presentation at congress

Oral presentation at congress

“Preparazione e caratterizzazione di nanocompositi SEBS/MWCNT”
Nicola Calisi, Alessio Giuliani, Michele Alderighi, Jan M. Schnorr,
Timothy M. Swager, Fabio Di Francesco, Andrea Pucci

Convegno interregionale - TUMA 2013

“Evaluation of the concentration of metalloproteinase in chronic wounds by an optic sensor”
Bastien Schirr, Nicola Calisi, Clara Paoletti, Bernardo Melai, Pietro Salvo,
Fabio Di Francesco, Stephanie Pasche, Guy Voiren

Year of Light 2015 - The chemical point of view