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The Center for Biomolecular Nanotechnologies of IIT@UniLe is a large scale facility for bio-molecular and organic materials and nanoscale biomolecular interactions. The activity of the Center is quite transdisciplinary: sharing a common basic knowledge on molecular and biomolecular compounds it paves the way to state of the art research in the field of functional and responsive nanocomposite materials, nanotoxicity, organic materials for low cost energy sources, and advanced materials modeling.

The research activities of the Center are focused on the following research lines: environment, health and safety (EHS), energy, computation, functionalized materials and robotics.


Piezoelectric MEMS are the new frontier of MEMS in science and technology for many differen applications such as integrated electronics, smart sensing, energy harvesting and ultra compact actuators. Soft and biocompatible piezoelectric technology can be exploited not only in wearable electronics but also in biomedical and clinical applications and health monitoring devices. Inorganic or hybrid organic-inorganic based flexible piezoelectric thin films are being actively studied and prototyped for artificial skin, biomedical applications and wearable implantable technologies due to their advantages of highly piezoelectric, bendable, slim, lightweight, and biocompatible properties. Because of their dual behavior (direct and indirect piezoelectric effect) piezoelectric thin films on plastic substrates, being more flexible, allow an effective sensing and actuation and additionally they can convert ambient mechanical energy into electric signals for powerless operation or energy harvesting.


The synthesis of functional piezoelectric and/or magnetic materials and their entire stack is performed in the Processing and Characterization Lab, where reactive sputtering is exploited for obtaining aluminum nitride soft piezoelectric materials on kapton substrates.

Prototyping and fabrication are realized in nano- and micro- fabrication clean room laboratories (lithography, wet and dry etching …). Laser Doppler Vibrometry and electrical characterization are exploited for electromechanical tests.

Different laboratories are exploited for soft-MEMS prototyping and test:

  • Material Processing and Characterization Lab (MPC lab)
  • Clean Room Lab
  • Characterization Lab
  • BackEnd lab


The main research focus on:

  • Development of exchange-correlation (XC) functional of the Density Functional Theory (DFT), namely generalized-gradient approximation (GGA) and meta-GGA, using model systems and the semiclassical theory
  • Development of kinetic energy functional for the orbital-free DFT and the frozen density embedding approaches , employing the Laplacian of the density as an ingredient
  • Development non-local hydrodynamic and quantum hydrodynamic model, and applications to linear and non-linear plasmonics
  • Modelling of coupling between emitters and localized plasmons including strong coupling
  • Modelling of non linear optics of metallic systems


An high-performance computing (HPC) cluster is available at IIT-CBN with 24 computing nodes (224 cores in total), and a cluster-file-system of 24TB.

The human brain contains about a hundred of billions of neurons, communicating with electrical and chemical signals into an extraordinary complex network. Most of these circuits, however, are still unrevealed, while unlocking them will result in new understanding on how the brain works, but also on new therapies for neural disorders and neural diseases. We aim at exploiting advanced micro- and nano-fabrication techniques to build new devices for studying neural circuits. Our technology targets the integration of multiple functionalities in only one minimally invasive device that can, simultaneously, interface with multiple regions of the brain with high resolution. We seek to create a synergy of ingoing and outward optical signals, low- and high-frequency recording of neural activity and readout of neurotransmitters concentration, providing novel tools for neuroscientists to address longstanding questions about brain functional connectivity.


To engineer our devices we intensively use the micro- and nano-fabrication facility at the Center For Biomolecular Nanotechnologies, including 300sq meters of Cleanroom and Back End Lab for MEMS technology and, in particular, a Dual Beam electron and ion microscope for focused ion beam induced milling and deposition at nanometer scale. In the Optical and Electrical Characterization Laboratory we implemented setups for impedance spectroscopy of electrodes for extracellular recording and state-of-the art characterization of optical neural interfaces in vitro.

This activity exploits different facilities and laboratories available at CBN:

  • Cleanroom front-end micro and nanotechnologies
  • Back End facilities for packaging and test
  • Materials Lab
  • Optical and Electrical Characterization

We aim at understanding and exploiting the interactions of engineered nanomaterials with the biological world. Our research activities focus on:

  • the design and production of well-characterized nanomaterials,
  • the study of the biological responses elicited by the nanomaterials (selective targeting, biochemical signaling, toxicity)
  • the exploitation of nanomaterials in nanomedicine, bioimaging  and diagnostics

To direct the interactions between nanoparticles (NPs) and the biological world, it is necessary to control the surface chemistry of the NPs in order to: 1) to stabilize the colloidal solutions in biologically relevant media and 2) to conjugate appropriate cues directing the interaction with the biological interface. In most of the current research in this field there is little conceptual separation between these two requirements, which may result in materials with poor performance. We aim at going beyond the current state of the art developing specific coatings as well as matching bioconjugation strategies for the modification of the NP surface with oligonucleotides, peptides, proteins or with small molecules. Furthermore, we push the characterization of these materials by combining physical, chemical and biochemical methods.


Nanoparticle production and characterization; organic chemistry laboratory: an important asset of our research group is the capability of synthesizing the organic molecules required for the coatings and for the conjugation strategies going beyond the limitation of commercial products; cell culture.

This activity exploits different facilities and laboratories available at CBN:

  • Cell culture facility
  • Bacteria facility
  • Biological sample characterization (proteomic analysis, RT-qPCR, TEM, super resolution STED, Agarose and PAGE gel electrophoresis, gel imaging system and gel scanner

A crucial target for the development of key enabling technologies to be implemented in the next generation of building envelopes is identified in the diffusion of intelligent multifunctional windows triggering efficient energy management and cost savings without unreasonable effort and complexity. The recent developments in the field of doped oxide nanocrystals may allow blooming a new class of transparent devices able to shield the infrared heat load carried by sunlight. Their optical features may be finely tuned by changing the nature of the nanomaterials engaged in the dynamic shift of the plasmonic scattering with specific parts of the solar spectrum. A main target of the ongoing research activities at CBN is related to the implementation of dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical systems which are simultaneously capable to convert (and accumulate) solar energy, but also to control the energy fluxes entering the window by means of a dynamic and smart-responsive modulation of the optical transmittance. In particular, dual-band dynamic solar control device based on the electro-stimulated tuning of the localized surface plasmonic resonance electrodes in transparent conductive oxide nanocrystals will be able to selectively and reversibly modulate the optical transmittance both in the VIS and in the NIR range


Dye solar labs @IIT-CBN are equipped with a full spectrum of facilities:

  • Fabrication of photelectrochemical systems, namely a semi-automated screen-printing machine, an automated seal applicator, an electrolyte filling machine, a cells assembly machine, dip-coating system.
  • Characterization of materials and device, namely an I-V station equipped with a AAA-class solar simulator, IPCE station, UV–VIS-NIR spectrophotometer, potentiostat/galavanostat, light soaking chamber, porosimeter, rehometer.
  • IIT-TRE joint lab is aimed at the fabrication and prototyping of large area dye-sensitized solar modules

BioMEMS devices, combining biology with micro-electro-mechanical design and nano- and micro- fabrication, are enabling real time, low cost and efficient monitoring and sensing of biochemical species. Scientists have recognized that biomimetics of natural cells, focusing on mechanics, mechanotransduction and mechanic biology and physiology of living cells and microorganisms, can inspire models of technological innovation for these new devices. Applications can span from Lab-On-Chips health monitoring to bio-chemical sensing.

IIT-CBN focuses on the development of new methods for mechanobiology, combining biology and engineering to enlighten how forces applied and experienced by cells, can be exploited to develop technologies to study cellular based pathologies and to bio-mimic cells:

  • Micro porous cage-like structures, tuning windows pitches and bars diameters by nano-lithographic techniques, discriminates between metastatic, tumorigenic and non tumorigenic cells of the human breast exploiting their different mechanical properties.
  • Fabrication of force delivery and sensing probe for the study of mechanotransduction by exploting soft-MEMS technology, low Young modulus materials and water-based and biocompatible processes for investigation of pathology in hair cells.
  • Study and technology development of artificial systems mimicking real hair cells for acoustic prosthetics and development of new architectures for nanosensors and microactuators, such as Microchannel Suspended Resonator specially designed for bio-sensing in liquid environments.


BioMEMS technologies sin CBN span among the exploitation of different technological and experimental laboratories. Soft and silicon–based microsystems fabrication is realized in nano- and micro- fabrication laboratories (clean room, two-photon and micro opto-lithography, nano-imprint lithography, wet and dry etching) combined with soft material deposition (PDMS and Parylene conformal coating). Laser Doppler Vibrometry and Confocal microscopy characterizations are exploited for mechanical and biological characterization of soft probes and microsystems.

In “Cell culture” and “Analysis of biological samples” facilities interaction between BioMEMS devices and biological samples are realized.

Main processing facilities include:

  • Material Processing and Characterization Lab (MPC lab)
  • Clean Room Lab
  • Characterization Lab
  • BackEnd lab
  • Cell culture facility
  • Analysis of biological samples