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Carlo Montemagno

Driven by the principles of excellence, honor and responsibility and an unwavering commitment to education as an engine of economic prosperity, Carlo Montemagno, PhD, has become a world-renowned expert in Nanotechnology and is responsible for creating groundbreaking innovations which solve complex challenges in the areas of informatics, agriculture, chemical refining, transportation, energy, and healthcare.

He was Founding Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at University of Cincinnati; received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and Bio Engineering from Cornell University; a Master's Degree in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering from Penn State and a PhD in Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences from Notre Dame.

Carlo Montemagno has been recognized with prestigious awards including the Feynman Prize (for creating single molecule biological motors with nano-scale silicon devices); the Earth Award Grand Prize (for cell-free artificial photosynthesis with over 95% efficiency); the CNBC Business Top 10 Green Innovator award (for Aquaporin Membrane water purification and desalination technology); and named a Bill & Melinda Gates Grand Challenge Winner (for a pH sensing active microcapsule oral vaccine delivery system which increased vaccine stability and demonstrated rapid uptake in the lower GI tract.)


Feynman Prize (the most prestigious prize in nanotech)

Experimental work on the integration of single molecule biological motors with nano-scale silicon devices – creating new possibilities for nanomachines.

Grand Prize in the Earth Award competition

Cell-free artificial photosynthesis platform (demonstrated efficiencies of over 95%).

Worldwide top 10 Green Environmental Innovator and Entrepreneur (as named by CNBC Business)

Aquaporin membrane technology for water purification and desalination.

Bill & Melinda Gates Grand Challenges Explorations Winner

Oral vaccine delivery systems using pH sensing active microcapsules. (Work for developing oral vaccine delivery system to increase vaccine stability against gastric acid inactivation and also to show a rapid release behaviour with enhanced uptake by lymphoid tissues of the lower GI tract.

Key Scientific Achievements


Demonstrated the ability to interface molecules with engineered nanofabricated devices.


Produced first molecular-motor control system that functioned using designed modifications to the protein separate and distinct form natural sites of catalytic activity.


Envisioned and developed a new materials construct enabling self-assembled nano-compartmented structures to be synthesized.


National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

Assembled multidisciplinary teams leading to the development of three major multi-University centre proposals—largest was $140M to NSF where UCLA was to lead 13 universities in creating this Network. Proposal unsuccessful but led to the establishment of UCLA as major force in US nanotechnology research.

Intelligent Nanosystems

Goal – Develop and create next generation materials that are sentient in relation to the local environment.

Through engineering “metabolism” into materials was able to demonstrate ability to develop materials incorporating integrated power transduction, amplified sensing and biochemical synthesis as functional properties. Will leverage this to create materials (through generating/processing chemical and electrical signals) that inherently process and react to local stimuli. Through designing innately intelligent materials, will be able to create autonomous systems engaging in local control of processes to achieve system level goals. This is accomplished through taking advantage of the transfer of info between molecules of different types in the same way that living systems process info. Materials could then autonomously adapt their physical and chemical properties in response to their environment (higher-order adaptability and functionality). Involves multi-scale approach integrating Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and Informatics – a paradigm known as Integrative Technology.

Outcomes – Impact several industry sectors (e.g., informatics, chemical refining, transportation, energy and healthcare).

Protein Technology

Using the protein F1-ATPase, he used the unique energy transduction properties of this molecule to power the first biological self-assembled hybrid nanoeletromechanical (NEMS) device.

Membrane Technology

Developed a cross-linkable biomimetic block copolymer—out of Poly(2-ethyloxazoline)-block-poly(dimethylsiloxane)-block-poly(2-ethyloxazoline)—that kept protein functionality while offering the strength and stability needed for the construction of stable systems for long periods of time over large temperature ranges.

Artificial Organelles

Produced artificial organelles able to perform significant functions through controlling the insertion of various protein combinations into vesicles. Shows the ability to create stable systems out of previously changeable biological components.

Intra-Artificial Organelle Communication

Facilitating the communication between similar and dissimilar functional elements is needed for creating emergent functionality. Demonstrated ability to facilitate communication between artificial organelles.

Inter-Vesicle Communication and System Packaging

Thermodynamically effective inter-vesicle communication requires developing a matter containment system that structurally creates nano-scale reaction compartments while facilitating material transport over multiple length scales. This also requires the containment system be potentially scalable, economic and protective.

Using this system, he has demonstrated ability to incorporate a major portion of the Krebs cycle into a stabilized self-assembled hydro-foam construct that produces glucose directly from sunlight and CO2.

Data Interrogation

Able to successfully conduct long-range, volumetric imaging to assess and quantify the physical state parameters of complex systems (e.g., cardiac renal nerve in rabbits) by using functionalized fluorescent molecular probes. The application of this technology will enable the establishment of a mechanism for stimulating and extracting information from the interior of the information processing system.

Coupled EV and Energy Injection System

Involves integrating functional EVs with an ATP generated system that’s packaged within the microchannels of a hydro-foam. This system will produce ATP from light using bacteriorhodopsin (BR) and F0F1 ATP synthase (ATP synthase) artificial organelle. Together, the system enables stable reaction kinetics and a continuous way for powering the system, using light.

The concept for the initial development of a complete system will be a device that is 500 m3, and will contain approximately 100,000 EV nodes and be powered from the ATP generated from a LED light source. The device provides, for the first time, a model laboratory system for exploring possible mechanisms on how the brain might integrate information occurring on a time scale that is too great to be accounted for by a single neuron’s properties.

This fully customizable, physical neural network presents many possibilities for testing biological signal processing hypotheses. The EV information processing system offers a chance to study how the information contained in spatially and temporally distributed chemical and electrical signals is manipulated to extract meaning. This information can serve as a guide for engineering materials and systems that actively interacts with the environment “to become a seamless element of the web of everything”.