ESR13 - The role of contact mechanics and interdiffusion on the adhesion between cellulosic fibers.

Name: Mónica Patrícia Gaspar Simões

ESR no.: 13

Description of the IRP:

My project focused on investigating the role of nano-scale contact (NSC) on surface adhesion. For this, Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) is introduced as a unique experimental technique to measure the NSC between soft surfaces, allowing to establish a linear correlation between FRET intensity and separation energy (adhesion).
FRET utilizes the non-radiative energy transferred between donor and acceptor molecules to study their exact nanometric distance, so if the molecules are in NSC, a FRET signal is detected. From a FRET signal it is possible to calculate the energy transfer efficiency (FRETeff), which can be used to quantify NSC.
For this study, bonded thin films labelled with two FRET pairs with different nanometric distance ranges and quantum yields, by doctor blading and vapor deposition.
The experiments revealed that for thin films pressed under different loads, NSC increases with the applied pressure, resulting in a higher FRET signal and a corresponding increase in adhesion when separating the films; creating a correlation between FRETeff and adhesion force, through the influence of NSC.
Overall, the work opened an entirely novel approach for the quantification (FRET spectroscopy) and imaging (FRET microscopy) of NSC between transparent adhering surfaces, representing a substantial advance in the study of solid materials contact mechanics and all fields where adhesion or NSC plays a role.


  • Nano-scale contact, Surface Adhesion, FRET technology, Bonded Thin Films, Contact Mechanics

Link to the PhD thesis


About the ESR:

I am a Portuguese R&D engineer with a Master's degree and Ph.D. in Chemical and Process Engineering.
In 2009 I was admitted to the University of Coimbra to study Chemical Engineering. In 2015, during my last semester, I was invited by my supervisors to stay and join the Department of Chemical Engineering research team. Accordingly, between 2015 – 18, I worked on two international research projects to develop intelligent drug delivery systems and smart textiles.
In 2018 I decided to apply for an open call in the FibreNet project, from which I was selected as an early-stage researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the Institute of Bioproducts and Paper Technology from the Graz University of Technology (, in Austria.
In 2021 I completed my doctoral studies and returned to my country to search for a job connected to industry and research. I was able to find a position at AlmaScience CoLAB (, a sustainable innovation R&D lab that turns today's industry needs into tomorrow's products. In 2022 I joined their team as a Senior Researcher in Paper Technology.

Mónica's introductory video of her research:


Contact information:

  • Mónica Patrícia Gaspar Simões
  • AlmaScience CoLAB
  • Institute RAIZ - Quinta de São Francisco
  • Rua José Estevão n.º 221
  • 3800-783 Eixo, Aveiro, Portugal