Angela Belcher

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Angela M. Belcher
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationUniversity of California, Santa Barbara (B.S. 1991, Ph.D. 1997)
Known forViral assembly of nanotechnology
AwardsMacArthur Fellowship (2004)
Beckman Young Investigators Award (2000)[1]
Scientific career
FieldsBiological engineering
materials science
ThesisSpatial and temporal resolution of interfaces, phase transitions and isolation of three families of proteins in calcium carbonate based biocomposite materials (1997)
Doctoral advisorGalen D. Stucky

Angela M. Belcher is a materials scientist, biological engineer, and the James Mason Crafts Professor of Biological Engineering and Materials Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.[2] She is director of the Biomolecular Materials Group at MIT, a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and a 2004 MacArthur Fellow. In 2019, she was named head of the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Belcher grew up in San Antonio, Texas. She attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she received her Bachelor's degree from the College of Creative Studies in 1991 and her Ph.D. in chemistry in 1997.[4]


After studying abalone shells, she worked with several colleagues at MIT and engineered a virus, known as the M13 bacteriophage whose target is usually Escherichia coli. M13 can be made to latch onto and coat itself with inorganic materials including gold and cobalt oxide. The long tubular virus (coated in cobalt oxide) now acts as a minuscule length of wire called a nanowire.[5] Belcher's group coaxed many of these nanowires together and found that they resemble the basic components of a potentially very powerful and compact battery.[6][7] In 2002 she founded Cambrios with Evelyn L. Hu of (at the time) University of California, Santa Barbara.[8] Their vision relied upon the use of nanostructured inorganic materials, fabricated and shaped by biological molecules to create novel materials and processes for a variety of industries. She also founded and serves on the Advisory Committee of Siluria Technologies, which develops catalytic methods for converting natural gas into products such as ethylene, gasoline, and diesel fuel.[9]

In 2009 Belcher and her team demonstrated the feasibility of using genetically modified viruses to build both anode and cathode of a lithium-ion battery. These new batteries have the same energy capacity and power as cutting-edge rechargeable batteries earmarked for use in hybrid cars, as well as powering a range of electronic devices. The batteries could be manufactured using a cheap and environmentally friendly process, as the synthesis can be done near room temperature, using no harmful solvents or toxic materials.[10][11]

A Time article[12] featured her work on viral batteries and Scientific American named her research leader of the year in 2006 for her current project.[13] In 2002, she was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[14] In 2013, Belcher was awarded the Lemelson-MIT Prize.[15] She has been elected to the Academy of Arts & Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors, and the National Academy of Engineering.[16][17][18]


  1. ^ "Angela M. Belcher". Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  2. ^ DMSE - Faculty - Angela Belcher. Archived November 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  3. ^ "Angela Belcher named head of the Department of Biological Engineering". MIT News. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  4. ^ Belcher, Angela (June 2003). "The College of Creative Studies - Distinguished Alumni - Angela Belcher, Ph.D. (From her commencement speech, June 2003)". University of California, Santa Barbara. Archived from the original on 2008-02-26.
  5. ^ Belcher, Angela M.; Iverson, Brent; Georgiou, George; Hayhurst, Andrew; Sweeney, Rozamond Y.; Kottmann, Stephen T.; Reiss, Brian D.; Solis, Daniel J.; Mao, Chuanbin (2004-01-09). "Virus-Based Toolkit for the Directed Synthesis of Magnetic and Semiconducting Nanowires". Science. 303 (5655): 213–217. Bibcode:2004Sci...303..213M. doi:10.1126/science.1092740. ISSN 1095-9203. PMID 14716009.
  6. ^ Belcher, Angela M.; Chiang, Yet-Ming; Hammond, Paula T.; Meethong, Nonglak; Chiang, Chung-Yi; Yoo, Pil J.; Kim, Dong-Wan; Nam, Ki Tae (2006-05-12). "Virus-Enabled Synthesis and Assembly of Nanowires for Lithium Ion Battery Electrodes". Science. 312 (5775): 885–888. Bibcode:2006Sci...312..885N. CiteSeerX doi:10.1126/science.1122716. ISSN 1095-9203. PMID 16601154.
  7. ^ Lee, Yun Jung; Yi, Hyunjung; Kim, Woo-Jae; Kang, Kisuk; Yun, Dong Soo; Strano, Michael S.; Ceder, Gerbrand; Belcher, Angela M. (2009-05-22). "Fabricating genetically engineered high-power lithium-ion batteries using multiple virus genes". Science. 324 (5930): 1051–1055. Bibcode:2009Sci...324.1051L. doi:10.1126/science.1171541. ISSN 1095-9203. PMID 19342549.
  8. ^ About Cambrios. Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Cambrios Technologies Corp.
  9. ^ Siluria Technologies Inc. "Siluria Technologies | Building with Natural Gas | Abundant fuels and chemicals without a single drop of oil". Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  10. ^ "Virus-Built Battery Could Power Cars, Electronic Devices". Science Daily. April 3, 2009.
  11. ^ Lee, Y. J.; Yi, H.; Kim, W.-J.; Kang, K.; Yun, D. S.; Strano, M. S.; Ceder, G.; Belcher, A. M. (April 2, 2009). "Fabricating Genetically Engineered High-Power Lithium Ion Batteries Using Multiple Virus Genes". Science. 324 (5930): 1051–1055. Bibcode:2009Sci...324.1051L. doi:10.1126/science.1171541. PMID 19342549.
  12. ^ Lemonick, Michael D. (April 6, 2007). "Angela Belcher". Time. 295 (6): 50. Bibcode:2006SciAm.295f..50M. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1206-50a.
  13. ^ Minkel, J.R. (November 12, 2006). "Scientific American 50: Research Leader of the Year". Scientific American.
  14. ^ "2002 Young Innovators Under 35". Technology Review. 2002. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  15. ^ "Dr. Angela Belcher | Lemelson-MIT Program". Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  16. ^ "Four MIT faculty named 2015 fellows of the National Academy of Inventors". MIT News. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  17. ^ "American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2012 Fellows" (PDF).
  18. ^ "National Academy of Engineering Elects 83 Members and 16 Foreign Members". NAE Website. Retrieved 2018-02-09.

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