Chemistry Colloquium & Brown-University of Bologna Annual Lecture Series

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“Operating the World’s Tiniest Machines”

Dr. Alberto Credi
Professor, Department of Agricultural & Food Sciences
University of Bologna
Bologna, Italy

Friday, April 27, 2018
4:00 - 5:00 PM, MacMillan Hall, Room 115
(Refreshments: 3:30 PM, GeoChem Building, Room 349)


Alberto_Credi15.jpgThe making of functioning machines at the extreme stage of miniaturization – that is, at the molecular level – is a fascinating challenge of nanoscience and an important objective of nanotechnology. In a not-too-distant future, species of this kind could find applications in fields such as chemical manufacturing, materials science, information technology, energy conversion, diagnostics, and medicine. 

Biological organisms, including humans, rely on the incessant and accurate action of hundreds of different kinds of molecular machines that perform tasks essential for life. The nanomachines of the biological world are indeed the premier, proven examples of the feasibility and utility of nanotechnology, and constitute a sound rationale for attempting the realization of synthetic counterparts.

In this lecture I will present the strategies at the basis of the development of artificial molecular machines and motors, and discuss how they have made it from laboratory curiosities to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. I will highlight the level of sophistication reached by these systems by describing a few selected examples from my research, including nanoscale elevators, sunlight-powered molecular shuttles and supramolecular pumps. 


Alberto Credi is professor of chemistry at the University of Bologna and associate research director at the National Research Council (CNR). He is the scientific director of the Center for Light Activated Nanostructures (CLAN), a University-CNR joint laboratory for research in the areas of supramolecular chemistry and photochemistry, materials science and nanoscience. His interests are focused on the development of molecular systems and materials controlled by light; in particular, his contribution to the realization of logic devices, machines and motors of nanometer size is internationally recognized. He is involved in several research projects and he collaborates with laboratories and institutes in Italy and abroad. He has authored four books and over 270 scientific publications, with nearly 22000 citations and a Hirsch index of 67. He received several prestigious awards, including an ERC Advanced Grant, and he has been invited to speak at more than 100 national and international conferences. He has been member of the scientific/organizing committee of >40 national and international conferences. He is member of the European Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, foreign board member of the Fondation de la Maison de la Chimie, and president of the Italian Photochemistry Association. Since the beginning of his career he has been engaged in the popularization of chemistry disciplines and scientific culture in general.