Ayusman Sen

Ayusman Sen

Main Content

  • Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
440 Chemistry Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-2460


  1. 1970: B.Sc. (Honours), University of Calcutta, India
  2. 1973: M. Sc., Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India
  3. 1978: Ph. D., University of Chicago, USA

Honors and Awards:

  1. 1982 – 1984 Young Investigator Award, Chevron Research Company
  2. 1984 – 1988 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow
  3. 1987 – 1988 Paul J. Flory Sabbatical Award, IBM
  4. 1999 – 2000 Iberdrola Visiting Professor, University of Valladolid, Spain
  5. 2003 Faculty Scholar Medal, Penn State University
  6. 2005 Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  7. 2009 Invited Distinguished Scientist, National Institute for Materials Science, Japan
  8. 2010 - Adjunct Professor, International Centre for Materials Science,
  9. Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, India
  10. 2011 Medal, Chemical Research Society of India (CRSI)
  11. 2013 Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Max Planck Institute for
  12. Intelligent Systems, Germany
  13. 2015 Elected Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry
  14. 2017 Langmuir Lecture, Institute of Nano Science and Technology, India

Selected Publications:

Selected Publications: H-index: 85; Sum of the Times Cited: 24,900 
Electronic copies available from: http://www.researcherid.com/rid/A-9406-2009 
1. “Self-Powered Enzyme Micropumps,” Samudra Sengupta, Debabrata Patra, Isamar Ortiz-Rivera, Arjun Agrawal, Sergey Shklyaev, Krishna K. Dey, Ubaldo Co´rdova-Figueroa, Thomas E. Mallouk, and Ayusman Sen, Nature Chemistry, 2014, 6, 415. (DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1895) 
2. “Catalytic Motors: Quo Vadimus?” Krishna Kanti Dey, Flory Wong, Alicia Altemose, and Ayusman Sen, Curr. Opinion Coll. Interface Sci., 2016, 21, 4. (DOI: 10.1016/j.cocis.2015.12.001) 
3. “Synthetic Micro/Nanomotors and Pumps: Fabrication and Applications,” Flory Wong, Krishna Kanti Dey, and Ayusman Sen, Annu. Rev. Mater. Res., 2016, 46, 407. (DOI: 10.1146/annurev-matsci-070115-032047) 
4. “Progress toward Light-Harvesting Self-Electrophoretic Motors: Highly Efficient Bimetallic Nanomotors and Micropumps in Halogen Media,” Flory Wong and Ayusman Sen, ACS Nano, 2016, 10, 7172. (DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b03474) 
5. “Chemically‐Controlled Spatiotemporal Oscillations of Colloidal Assemblies,” Alicia Altemose, Maria A Sánchez-Farrán, Wentao Duan, Steve Schulz, Ali Borhan, Vincent H Crespi, and Ayusman Sen, Angew. Chem., Int. Ed., 2017, 56, 7817. (DOI: 10.1002/anie.201703239) 
6. “Chemically Propelled Molecules and Machines,” Krishna K. Dey and Ayusman Sen, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139, 7666. (DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b02347) 
7. “‘Fuelled’ Motion: Phoretic Motility and Collective Behaviour of Active Colloids,” Pierre Illien, Ramin Golestanian and Ayusman Sen, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2017, 46, 5508. (DOI: 10.1039/C7CS00087A) 
8. “Substrate-driven Chemotactic Assembly in an Enzyme Cascade,” Xi Zhao, Henri Palacci, Vinita Yadav, Michelle M. Spiering, Michael K. Gilson, Peter J. Butler, Henry Hess, Stephen J. Benkovic, Ayusman Sen, Nature Chemistry, 2018, 10, 311. (DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.2905)


Self-Powered Nano and Micromotors and Pumps

Living systems are dynamic, multifunctional, and highly responsive, and they live in changing environments. Most engineered materials, in contrast, tend to be static with a single function and are suited for more predictable environments.  Access to rationally-designed dynamic materials that are capable of remodeling themselves and transforming their environment will (i) minimize waste (they will change their function and purpose rather than being single-use), (ii) improve performance (they will continuously evolve their structures to optimize performance), and (iii) accomplish tasks collectively and emergently (like a colony of ants) that a single constituent element (like a single ant) cannot perform.  By making these dynamic materials to be self-powered, they will also be capable of exploring and responding to their environment (sensor applications) without being tethered to a single power source or location.

We aim to create a new paradigm for molecular-level engineering of functional materials.  The work will leverage (a) the precise chemical control associated with molecular-level manipulation of materials to create functional building blocks, with (b) self-propelled mobility resulting from biomimetic catalytic energy harvesting from the local environment, with (c) the rapid and reversible assembly capabilities provided by emergent processes, with (d) the intelligence and communication capabilities that have been demonstrated in groups of interacting microorganisms, with (e) the ability to perform specific tasks in response to signals from each other and the environment.  Our approach is entirely synthetic and chemical, which allows us to create dynamic, intelligent materials in a way that is not impeded by the inherent constraints of biological systems.

Research Interests:


Self-powered motors and pumps as sensors


Autonomous motion and transport in biological systems


Nanocrystals and solid state materials

Materials and Nanoscience

Homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis, polymeric materials, nanomotors, nanofluidics


Homogeneous catalysis, polymeric materials


Polymer Synthesis and Characterization, Stimuli Responsive Materials

Chemical Biology

Enzyme Catalysis: Force generation, motility, and fluid pumping.