UCL Department of Chemical Engineering


Diego Lopez Barreiro

Lecturer in Nature-Inspired Chemical Engineering

Diego Lopez Barreiro


Diego López Barreiro is a Lecturer in Nature-Inspired Chemical Engineering within the Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCL since September 2022. He 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). Between 2017 and 2019, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), working on a combined experimental-computational approach to the synthesis of biopolymeric and biobased materials. In 2020, he joined the biotech company DSM in Delft (The Netherlands) as a Marie Curie Fellow to work on the engineering of structural proteins for biomedical materials with controllable mechanical and biological properties.

Teaching Summary 

Diego is a lecturer in the MSc Nature-Inspired Solutions in UCL East campus, with a passion about teaching how we can learn from Nature to develop new materials that can help us tackling some of the grand challenges of our society.

Research Summary

Diego uses biopolymers to develop functional materials for applications in healthcare, energy, or the environment. Biopolymers are used alone or in combination with additives like (i) biobased materials obtained from the conversion of low-value bioresources to create composite materials; or (ii) microorganisms that synthesise functional molecules to create living 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. The 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.



Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, European Commission.


Graduate distinction prize, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.



PhD Applied Biological Sciences: Chemistry and Bioprocess Technology, Ghent University, Belgium


MSc Chemical Engineering, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain 


  • Martin-Moldes et al., Effect of the silica nanoparticle size on the osteoinduction of biomineralized silk-silica nanocomposites, Acta Biomaterialia, 120:203-212, 2021 (*equal contribution).
  • Wan et al., Exploration of biomass-derived activated carbons for use in vanadium redox flow batteries, ACS Sust Chem Eng, 8:9472–9482, 2020.
  • López Barreiro et al., Conductive silk-based composites using biobased carbon materials, Adv Mater, 31:1904720, 2019.
  • Martin-Martinez et al., The rise of hierarchical nanostructured materials from renewable sources: learning from nature, ACS Nano, 12:7425-7433, 2018.
  • López Barreiro et al., Hydrothermal liquefaction of microalgae in a continuous stirred-tank reactor, Energy Fuel, 29:6422–6432, 2015.

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