Carnegie Mellon University
April 21, 2015

The 2015 Bayer Lecture Series in Process Systems Engineering

The 2015 Bayer Lecture Series in Process Systems Engineering

Lecturer: Dr. George Stephanopoulos

Arthur D. Little Professor of Chemical Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Nanoscale Process Systems Engineering: Towards Molecular Factories, Synthetic Cells, and Adaptive Devices


Research in nanoscale science and engineering has been primarily directed towards the design and manufacturing of (a) materials with passive nanostructures, and (b) active devices with nanostructured components.  Research on the conceptual design, fabrication and operation of integrated “nanoscale factories” is lagging seriously behind. It is progress at this frontier that will enable the research visions of molecular factories, synthetic cells and adaptive devices to become reality.

This presentation will be composed of two parts:  In the first part I will describe the essential systems engineering questions that need to be addressed before we are able to design, fabricate and operate processes at the nanoscale.  These questions define my research interests and include: (a) synthesis of “molecular factories” through metabolic networks; (b) fabrication of structures with desired geometries; and (c) design of self-regulating dynamic systems. In the second part I will discuss in more detail our research work in the first two areas: In (a) the discussion will center on the synthesis of four interacting reaction networks, which emulate (i) the raw materials conversion to desired product(s), (ii) energy production and dissipation, (iii) generation and utilization of “information” molecules for monitoring and control, and (iv) generation of molecules for the replication of the molecular factory. In the second area, (b), I will discuss the controlled formation of self-assembled nanostructures with desired non-periodic geometric features, and the design principles and methodologies guiding such a formation: a hybrid top-down formation of physical domains with externally-imposed controls, and bottom-up generation of the desired structure through the guided self-assembly of the nanoscale particles.