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Dr Diego Lopez Barreiro
Roberts Building 313
Torrington Place
Dr Diego Lopez Barreiro profile picture
  • Lecturer in Nature-Inspired Chemical Engineering
  • Dept of Chemical Engineering
  • Faculty of Engineering Science

Diego holds an MSc in Chemical Engineer (2011, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain). In 2015 he completed a PhD in Applied Biological Sciences (Chemistry and Bioprocess Technology) about microalgae biorefineries, nutrient recovery and bioprocess design at Ghent University (Belgium) funded by the FundaciĆ³n Pedro BarriĆ© de la Maza (Spain) and the IWT (Belgium). Between 2017 and 2019, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), working on a combined experimental-computational approach to the synthesis of biopolymeric and biobased materials. Between 2020 and 2022, he worked at the biotech R&D department of DSM in Delft (The Netherlands) as a Marie Curie Fellow, with a focus on the engineering of structural proteins for biomedical materials with controllable mechanical and biological properties. In 2022 he joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCL as a lecturer.

Research Themes
Research Summary

Biopolymers (e.g., elastin, cellulose, silk) have a propensity towards molecular self-assembly and self-organisation that underpins their ability in living organisms to generate natural functional materials with remarkable performance. Thus, these biopolymers are gaining increasing attention as alternative building blocks to replace fossil-based polymers as source of synthetic functional materials for applications in healthcare, energy, or the environment

We use biopolymers to develop functional materials, alone or in combination with additives like (i) microorganisms that synthesise functional molecules to create living materials; or (ii) biobased materials obtained from the conversion of low-value bioresources to create composite materials. The aim is to invent new materials with tailored nanostructures, controlled interfacial chemistry, and advanced physicochemical or biological functionalities that can interact with the environment, other biomolecules, or living tissues. Our experimental work is supported by multiscale computation to unveil structure-property relationships at the atomistic and micrometer scale, connecting molecular-based nanoscience with the synthesis of such materials.

2022 Lecturer in Nature-Inspired Chemical Engineering Department of Chemical Engineering UCL, United Kingdom
2020 – 2022 Marie Curie Fellow DSM Biotechnology Center DSM, Netherlands
2017 – 2019 Postdoctoral researcher Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering MIT, United States
Academic Background
    Applied Biological Sciences: Chemistry and Bioprocess Technology  
    Chemical Engineering  
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