Emergent Bioengineering Materials Research Team

Principal Investigator

PI Name Yoshihiro Ito
Degree D.Eng.
Title Team Leader
Brief Resume
1987 D.Eng., Kyoto University
1988 Assistant Professor, Kyoto University
1996 Associate Professor, Kyoto University
1997 Associate Professor, Nara Institute of Science and Technology
1999 Professor, University of Tokushima
2002 Project Leader, Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology
2004 Chief Scientist, Nano Medical Engineering Laboratory, RIKEN (-present)
2013 Team Leader, Emergent Bioengineering Materials Research Team, RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science (-present)


Advanced materials composed of biological and artificial components are synthesized for development of environmentally friendly energy collection and conversion systems. By combination of organic synthetic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and biotechnology, novel synthesis method will be established and materials using biological and artificial elements will be achieved by their chemical fabrication, and the characterization of the interfaces between biological and artificial elements for highly efficient energy collection and conversion or biological functions. Especially our team will establish a new methodology, a chemically extended molecular evolutionary engineering as an “Emergent Chemistry” to create a specific ally functionalized polymer by screening of random sequence of polymer library containing functional monomers.

Research Fields

Bioengineering, Organic Chemistry, Materials Science


Energy conversion
Precise Polymer Synthesis
Molecular evolutionary engineering


Bioinspired underwater adhesive biopolymers for biologically active materials

Artificial materials have no biological functions, although they are important for medical devices such as artificial organs and matrices for regenerative medicine. Therefore, for more reliable biomaterials, biocompatibility is required to enhance the connection between materials and biological components. Our team has developed new bioactive materials by immobilization of biologically macromolecules (polypeptides) on the surfaces. For example, we designed cell activative materials by simple coating of polypeptides containing sequence of growth factor proteins with a key amino acid, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine, of underwater adhesive proteins, which is secreted from mussel for adhering to rocks. The adhesive polypeptides were prepared by the bioorthogonal approaches including genetic recombination, enzymatic method, and solid phase synthesis. They formed nanolayers on various substrates involving organic and inorganic materials to conveniently provide biological surfaces. Through the direct activation of cognate receptors on interactive surfaces, the materials enhanced the cell activities more than soluble growth polypeptides.


Creation of bioactive surface by underwater-adhesive biological macromolecues prepared according to bioorthogonal approaches


Solution-processed substrate-free thermoelectric films

Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) are advantageous for energy-conversion materials because of their large electrical conductivity, mechanical strength, and light weight. Unfortunately, SWCNTs exhibit poor processability owing to inevitable aggregation. We demonstrated substrate-free thermoelectric (TE) films using solution-processed methodology. Thermally cleavable polythiophene derivatives containing carbonate groups and solubilizing groups in side chains were synthesized. The polymer showed noncovalent modification of SWCNTs that led to a dispersed polymer/SWCNTs solution. This dispersed solution allowed a solution-processable polymer/SWCNTs composite film. The insoluble composite film was obtained by the thermal cleavage of the solubilizing group in a solid state. The substrate-free polymer/SWCNTs composite film prepared by solvent evaporation exhibited the TE property. These results are expected to be useful for preparation of flexible TE devices.


Schematic illustration of thermally cleavable polythiophene for dispersed SWCNTs composite and an insoluble SWCNTs film.


Yoshihiro Ito

Team Leader y-ito[at]riken.jp

Masuki Kawamoto

Senior Research Scientist

Takanori Uzawa

Senior Research Scientist

Motoki Ueda

Senior Research Scientist

Hiroshi Abe

Senior Visiting Scientist

Kyoji Hagiwara

Visiting Scientist

Ahmed Emad Abdelmoneam Ali Elrefaey

Student Trainee

Osama Ramadan Mohamed Mohamed Metawea

International Program Associate

MingXin Hu

Junior Research Associate

Noriko Minagawa

Technical Staff I

Kon Son

Student Trainee

Sei Obuse

Research Part-time Worker I


  1. H. Kashiwagi, N. Morishima, S. Obuse, T. Isoshima, J. Akimoto, and Y. Ito

    SARS-CoV-2 Proteins Microarray by Photoimmobilization for Serodiagnosis of the Antibodies

    Bull. Chem. Soc. Jpn. 94, 2435-2443 (2021)
  2. R. Q. Wang, Y. H. Tian, J. K. Wang, W. X. Song, Y. Cong, X. B. Wei, Y. W. Mei, H. Miyatake, Y. Ito and Y. M. Chen

    Biomimetic Glucose Trigger-Insulin Release System Based on Hydrogel Loading Bidentate beta-Cyclodextrin

    Adv. Funct. Mater. 31, 2104488 (2021)
  3. S. Tada, X. L. Ren, H. L. Mao, Y. Heo, S. H. Park, T. Isoshima, L. P. Zhu, X. Y. Zhou, R. Ito, S. Kurata, M. Osaki, E. Kobatake, and Y. Ito

    Versatile Mitogenic and Differentiation-Inducible Layer Formation by Underwater Adhesive Polypeptides

    Adv. Sci. 8, 2100961 (2021)
  4. A. Nandakumar, Y. Ito, and M. Ueda

    Solvent Effects on the Self-Assembly of an Amphiphilic Polypeptide Incorporating α-Helical Hydrophobic Blocks

    J. Am. Chem. Soc. 142, 20994 (2020)
  5. S. J. Park, J. Akimoto, N. Sakakibara, E. Kobatake, and Y. Ito

    Thermally induced switch of coupling reaction using morphological change of thermoresponsive polymer on reactive hetero-armed nanoparticle

    ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 12, 49165 (2020)



2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198 Japan