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Valerio Voliani


Research Line

Electron Crystallography




p.zza San Silvestro, 12
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Valerio Voliani (ResearcherID: B-9560-2015) received his degree cum laude in Inorganic Chemistry from University of Pisa – Scuola Normale Superiore (SNS) in 2006. In the same year he started a 1-year fellowship at National Enterprise of nanoScience and nanoTechnology (NEST) – SNS in Pisa, where he worked on the synthesis and photo-physical characterizations of Green Fluorescent Proteins (GFPs) chromophores. Valerio received his Ph.D. in biophysics in 2012 from SNS in collaboration with the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). His research activities were focused on metal nanoparticles for biomedical applications, and in particular on the design of novel organic coatings for multifunctionalization and controlled photorealease. He joined the University of Valencia (Spain) in 2012, where he was involved in the engineering of novel theranostics tools based on up-conversion nanoparticles. In 2013, he started a collaboration with a company for the purification and recognition of exosomes from human fluids. From 2014 he joined the Center for Nanotechnology Innovation (CNI) @NEST, where his research is focused on the development of novel disassembling nano-architectures for cancer therapy and catalysis. His work in the area of nanobiotechnology is demonstrated by 19 publications in high-level peer-reviewed international journals (12 as corresponding author), 6 patents, the publication of 1 book as editor, 1 book and 2 book-chapters as author, 3 covers (Small in 2011, Journal of Materials Chemistry B in 2013, and Chemical Communication in 2015), several oral and poster contributions at international meetings, and awards such as: i) "Premio NEST@NEST 2011" for the best published work of the year on experimental nanoscience (Small 2011), and ii) the first prize in the category “micro” at “FotCiencia10” organized by Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT) and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) for the image “Grafeno post-impresionista”.

Selected Publications


i) Biodegradable passion fruit-like nano-architectures as carriers for cisplatin prodrug; Domenico Cassano, Melissa Santi, Valentina Cappello, Stefano Luin, Giovanni Signore, and Valerio Voliani; submitted

ii) Peptide-based stealth nanovesicles for targeted drug delivery; Alessandro Ranalli, Melissa Santi, Luigi Capriotti, Valerio Voliani, David Porciani, Fabio Beltram, and Giovanni Signore; submitted

iii) Scalable synthesis of WS2 on graphene and h-BN: an all-2D platform for light-matter transduction; Antonio Rossi, Holger Büch, Carmine Di Rienzo, Vaidotas Miseikis, Domenica Convertino, Ameer Al-Temimy, Valerio Voliani, Mauro Gemmi, Vincenzo Piazza and Camilla Coletti; submitted

iv) Biodegradable nano-architectures containing gold nanoparticles arrays; Domenico Cassano, Diego Rota Martir, Giovanni Signore, Cinzia Avigo, Luca Menichetti, Vincenzo Piazza, and Valerio Voliani; MRS Advances, 2016, June 2016, pp 1 – 7, DOI: 10.1557/adv.2016.454


i) Biodegradable hollow silica nanospheres containing gold nanoparticle arrays; Domenico Cassano, Diego Rota Martir, Giovanni Signore, Vincenzo Piazza, and Valerio Voliani; Chemical Communications, 2015, 51, 9939-9941, DOI: 10.1039/C5CC02771C

ii) Non-linear optical response by functionalized gold nanospheres: identifying design principles to maximize the molecular photo-release; Luca Bergamini, Valerio Voliani, Riccardo Nifosi, Valentina Cappello, and Stefano Corni; Nanoscale, 2015, 7, 13345-13357, DOI: 10.1039/C5NR03037D


i) Magnetic catechin-dextran conjugate as targeted therapeutic for pancreatic tumour cells; Orazio Vittorio, Valerio Voliani, Paolo Faraci, Biswajit Karmakar, Francesca Iemma, Silke Hampel, Maria Kavallaris, and Giuseppe Cirillo; Journal of Drug Targeting, 2014, 22 (5), 408-415, DOI: 10.3109/ 1061186X.2013.878941

ii) NIR excitation of upconversion nanohybrids containing a surface grafted Bodipy induces oxygen mediated cancer cell death; Maria Gonzalez-Bejar, Marta Liras, Laura Frances-Soriano, Valerio Voliani, Jose Garcia-Verdugo, Vicente Herranz-Pérez, Maria Duran-Moreno, Emilio Alarcon, Juan Scaiano, and Julia Pérez-Prieto; Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 2014, 2, 4554-4563, DOI: 10.1039/C4TB00340C

iii) Texture and phase recognition analysis of -NaYF4 nanocrystals; Valerio Voliani, Mauro Gemmi, Laura Frances-Soriano, Maria Gonzales-Bejar, and Julia Pérez-Prieto; J. Phys. Chem. C, 2014, 118 (21), 11404-11408, DOI: 10.1021/jp5025872

iv) Tubeless biochip for chemical stimulation of cells in closed-bioreactors: anti-cancer activity of the catechin–dextran conjugate; Sandro Meucci, Marco Travagliati, Orazio Vittorio, Giuseppe Cirillo, Luca Masini, Valerio Voliani, Nevio Picci, Fabio Beltram, Alessandro Tredicucci, and Marco Cecchini; RSC Advances, 2014, 4, 35017-35026, DOI: 10.1039/C4RA05496B

v) Synergistic photo-release of drugs by non-linear excitation; Valerio Voliani, Giovanni Signore, Orazio Vittorio, Paolo Faraci, Stefano Luin, Julia Peréz-Prieto and Fabio Beltram; MRS Spring Meeting proceedings, 2014, 1688, DOI: 10.1557/opl.2014.518


i) Cancer phototherapy in living cells by multiphoton release of doxorubicin from gold nanospheres; Valerio Voliani, Giovanni Signore, Orazio Vittorio, Paolo Faraci, Stefano Luin, Julia Peréz-Prieto and Fabio Beltram; Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 2013, 1, 4225-4230, DOI: 10.1039/C3TB20798F

ii) Orthogonal Functionalisation of Upconverting NaYF4 Nanocrystals; Valerio Voliani, María González-Béjar, Vicente Herranz-Pérez, Maria Duran-Moreno, Giovanni Signore, Jose M. Garcia-Verdugo, and Julia Pérez-Prieto; Chemistry A European Journal, 2013, 40, 13538-13546, DOI: 10.1002/chem.201301353


i) Peptidic coating for gold nanospheres multifunctionalizable with photostable and photolabile moieties; Valerio Voliani, Fernanda Ricci, Stefano Luin, and Fabio Beltram; Journal of Materials Chemistry, 2012, 22, 14487-14493, DOI: 10.1039/C2JM31782F

ii) Smart delivery and controlled drug release with gold nanoparticles: new frontiers in nanomedicine; Valerio Voliani, Giovanni Signore, Riccardo Nifosí, Fernanda Ricci, Stefano Luin, and Fabio Beltram; Recent Patents on Nanomedicine, 2012, 2 (1), 34-44, DOI: 10.2174/1877912311202010034


i) Multiphoton molecular photorelease in click-chemistry functionalized gold nanoparticles; Valerio Voliani, Fernanda Ricci, Giovanni Signore, Riccardo Nifosí, Stefano Luin, and Fabio Beltram; Small, 2011, 7, 3271–3275, DOI: 10.1002/smll.201101753

ii) Cis-trans photoisomerization properties of GFP chromophore analogs; Gerardo Abbandonato, Giovanni Signore, Riccardo Nifosí, Valerio Voliani, Ranieri Bizzarri, and Fabio Beltram; Eur Biophys J., 2011, 40, 1205-1214, DOI: 10.1007/s00249-011-0742-z


i) Single-Step Bifunctional Coating for Selectively Conjugable NanoParticles; Valerio Voliani, Stefano Luin, Fernanda Ricci, and Fabio Beltram; Nanoscale, 2010, 2, 2783-2789, DOI: 10.1039/c0nr00350f

ii) Single step coating and bifunctionalization of gold nanoparticles; Valerio Voliani, Stefano Luin, and Fabio Beltram; Biophysical Journal, 98 (3), 757a-758a


i) Raman study of cromophore states in photochromic fluorescent proteins; Stefano Luin, Valerio Voliani, Giacomo Lanza, Ranieri Bizzarri, Riccardo Nifosì, Pietro Amat, Valentina Tozzini, Michela Serresi, and Fabio Beltram; J. Am. Chem. Soc., 131 (1), 96-103, DOI: 10.1021/ja804504b


i) Cis-trans photoisomerization of fluorescent-protein chromophores; Valerio Voliani, Ranieri Bizzarri, Riccardo Nifosì, Stefania Abbruzzetti, Elena Grandi, Cristiano Viappiani, and Fabio Beltram; J. Phys. Chem. B, 112, 10714-10722, DOI: 10.1021/jp802419h


2015: Cover of “Chemical Communications” (Voliani et al., Chem. Comm., 2015, 51, 9939)

2013: Cover of “Journal of Materials Chemistry B” (Voliani et al., J. Mat. Chem. B, 2013, 1, 4225)

2012: 1) Winner of the award "Premio NEST@NEST 2011"; sponsored by Rivoira for the best published work on experimental nanoscience for the years 2010/2011 (Voliani et al., Small, 2011, 7, 3271).

2) First prize in the category “micro” at “FotCiencia10” organized by Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FECYT) and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) for the image “Grafeno post‐impresionista” (Co-Authored with Dr. Camilla Coletti)

2011: Frontispiece of “Small” (Voliani et al., Small, 2011, 7, 3271)



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I numeri di IIT

L’Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) è una fondazione di diritto privato - cfr. determinazione Corte dei Conti 23/2015 “IIT è una fondazione da inquadrare fra gli organismi di diritto pubblico con la scelta di un modello di organizzazione di diritto privato per rispondere all’esigenza di assicurare procedure più snelle nella selezione non solo nell’ambito nazionale dei collaboratori, scienziati e ricercatori ”.

IIT è sotto la vigilanza del Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca e del Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze ed è stato istituito con la Legge 326/2003. La Fondazione ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'eccellenza nella ricerca di base e in quella applicata e di favorire lo sviluppo del sistema economico nazionale. La costruzione dei laboratori iniziata nel 2006 si è conclusa nel 2009.

Lo staff complessivo di IIT conta circa 1440 persone. L’area scientifica è rappresentata da circa l’85% del personale. Il 45% dei ricercatori proviene dall’estero: di questi, il 29% è costituito da stranieri provenienti da oltre 50 Paesi e il 16% da italiani rientrati. Oggi il personale scientifico è composto da circa 60 principal investigators, circa 110 ricercatori e tecnologi di staff, circa 350 post doc, circa 500 studenti di dottorato e borsisti, circa 130 tecnici. Oltre 330 posti su 1400 creati su fondi esterni. Età media 34 anni. 41% donne / 59 % uomini.

Nel 2015 IIT ha ricevuto finanziamenti pubblici per circa 96 milioni di euro (80% del budget), conseguendo fondi esterni per 22 milioni di euro (20% budget) provenienti da 18 progetti europei17 finanziamenti da istituzioni nazionali e internazionali, circa 60 progetti industriali

La produzione di IIT ad oggi vanta circa 6990 pubblicazioni, oltre 130 finanziamenti Europei e 11 ERC, più di 350 domande di brevetto attive, oltre 12 start up costituite e altrettante in fase di lancio. Dal 2009 l’attività scientifica è stata ulteriormente rafforzata con la creazione di dieci centri di ricerca nel territorio nazionale (a Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) e internazionale (MIT ed Harvard negli USA) che, unitamente al Laboratorio Centrale di Genova, sviluppano i programmi di ricerca del piano scientifico 2015-2017.

IIT: the numbers

Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) is a public research institute that adopts the organizational model of a private law foundation. IIT is overseen by Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca and Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze (the Italian Ministries of Education, Economy and Finance).  The Institute was set up according to Italian law 326/2003 with the objective of promoting excellence in basic and applied research andfostering Italy’s economic development. Construction of the Laboratories started in 2006 and finished in 2009.

IIT has an overall staff of about 1,440 people. The scientific staff covers about 85% of the total. Out of 45% of researchers coming from abroad 29% are foreigners coming from more than 50 countries and 16% are returned Italians. The scientific staff currently consists of approximately 60 Principal Investigators110 researchers and technologists350 post-docs and 500 PhD students and grant holders and 130 technicians. External funding has allowed the creation of more than 330 positions . The average age is 34 and the gender balance proportion  is 41% female against 59% male.

In 2015 IIT received 96 million euros in public funding (accounting for 80% of its budget) and obtained 22 million euros in external funding (accounting for 20% of its budget). External funding comes from 18 European Projects, other 17 national and international competitive projects and approximately 60 industrial projects.

So far IIT accounts for: about 6990 publications, more than 130 European grants and 11 ERC grants, more than 350 patents or patent applications12 up start-ups and as many  which are about to be launched. The Institute’s scientific activity has been further strengthened since 2009 with the establishment of 11 research nodes throughout Italy (Torino, Milano, Trento, Parma, Roma, Pisa, Napoli, Lecce, Ferrara) and abroad (MIT and Harvard University, USA), which, along with the Genoa-based Central Lab, implement the research programs included in the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan.