The remote control of cellular functions through smart nanomaterials represents a bio-manipulation approach with unprecedented potential applications in many fields of medicine, ranging from cancer therapy to tissue engineering. By actively responding to external stimuli, smart nanomaterials act as real nanotransducers able to mediate and/or convert different forms of energy into both physical and chemical cues, fostering specific cell behaviors. A new paradigm is proposed for nanomedicine, in order to exploit the intrinsic properties of nanomaterials as active devices rather than as passive structural units or carriers for medications. In this view, we are focused on three main research topics:

  • Cellular stimulation through piezoelectric, magnetic, redox-active and optically-active nanoparticles
  • Multi-functional drug delivery systems
  • Altered gravity as physical cue for cell stimulation


  1. Prof. Suzuki Madoka, Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan)
  2. Prof. Elisa Mele, Loughborough University (Loughborough, UK)
  3. Prof. Dmitri Golberg, NIMS (Tsukuba, Japan)
  4. Prof. Gianluca Ciardelli, Polytechnic University of Torino (Torino, Italy)
  5. Prof. Alessandra Salvetti, University of Pisa (Pisa, Italy)
  6. Dr. Marco Vukich, Kayser Italia (Livorno, Italy)
  7. Dr. Athanassia Athanassiou, Italian Institute of Technology (Genova, Italy)
  8. Dr. Francesco Difato, Italian Institute of Technology (Genova, Italy)


  1. Magnetic solid lipid nanoparticles as a multifunctional platform against glioblastoma multiforme (SLaMM), grant number 709613, European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant, 2017-2022
  2. Nanotechnology solutions against oxidative stress in muscle tissue during long-term microgravity exposure (NANOROS), grant number 2016-7-U.0, Italian Space Agency, 2016-2018
  3. New self-powered devices for cochlear stimulation based on piezoelectric nanomaterials, grant number RF-2011-02350464, Italian Ministry of Health, 2014-2017


We are based at the Center for Micro-BioRobotics, thus taking fully advantage of chemical, biological and microfabrication facilities of the center, including clean rooms (class 1000 and class 10000), chemical laboratories, and BSL2 biological laboratories.

More specifically, the following equipments are fully available for the Smart Bio-Interfaces research line:

  • Helios NanoLab 600i FIB/SEM/STEM equipped with X-ray microanalysis (FEI);
  • AFM diINNOVA SPM system (Bruker)
  • Fourier transform infrared spectrophotometer IRAffinity-1 (Shimadzu)
  • HPLC 1260 Infinity (Agilent Technologies)
  • Differential scanning calorimeter DSC-1 STARe System (Mettler Toledo)
  • Zetasizer Nano ZS90 (Malvern)
  • LAMBDA 45 spectrophotometer (Perkin Elmer)
  • Cary Eclipse fluorescence spectrophotometer (Agilent Technologies)
  • VICTOR X3 plate reader (Perkin Elmer)
  • Eclipse Ti-E fluorescence microscope (Nikon)
  • C2s confocal microscope (Nikon)
  • QIAcube (Qiagen)
  • Nanodrop 2000 spectrophotometer (Thermo)
  • CFX Connect real-time PCR detection system (BioRad)
  • PowerPac Basic + Mini-PROTEAN Tetra Cell (electrophoresis system, BioRad)
  • iBlot gel transfer system (Invitrogen)
  • ChemiDoc Western blot Imager (Bio-Rad)
  • Sonoporation Gene Transfection System SonoPore KTAC-4000 (Sonidel)