Robert W. Carpick is the John Henry Towne Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and is a member of the Physics Graduate Group. Prof. Carpick moved to U. Penn in January 2007 after serving on the faculty for 7 years in the Engineering Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Prof. Carpick received his B.Sc. in Physics from the University of Toronto in 1991, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1997 under the supervision of Dr. Miquel Salmeron. His thesis is titled: “The Study of Contact, Adhesion and Friction at the Atomic Scale by Atomic Force Microscopy”.
He spent two years as a postdoctoral appointee at Sandia National Laboratory in the Surface and Interface Science Department, and then the Biomolecular Materials and Interfaces Department where he worked under the supervision of Dr. Alan R. Burns.
Prof. Carpick works at the intersection of mechanics, materials, and physics to conduct research into nanotribology (the atomic-scale origins of friction, adhesion, lubrication, and wear), nanomechanics, nanostructured materials, surface science, and scanning probe microscopy (SPM) including in situ methods. His primary focus is on using SPM and other surface science and material characterization techniques to probe the fundamental nature of materials in contact, and to apply the results to nanotechnology applications. Recently he has focused extensively on the science and technology of ultrahard carbon-based thin films, ultrathin materials such as graphene, and functional mechanisms of lubricant additives.
Prof. Carpick was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2012, a Fellow of the American Vacuum Society in 2014, and a Fellow of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers in 2016. He currently serves on the Editorial Boards of the journals Tribology Letters and Advanced Materials Interfaces, and served as a Board Member of the Solid Lubricants Division of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (2004-2009), serving as Division Chair for 2008-2009. He previously served as an elected board member of the Nanoscale Science and Technology Division of the American Vacuum Society, and on the Editorial Board of Review of Scientific Instruments. He was the recipient of a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in 2001, and was named Outstanding New Mechanics Educator by the American Society for Engineering Education in 2003. In 2009, he was awarded the Burt L. Newkirk Award of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is a co-recipient of a R&D 100 Award for the co-development of ultrananocrystalline diamond AFM probes, sold commercially as “NaDia Probes” by Advanced Diamond Technologies, Inc. He has taught several invited short courses on nanomechanics and scanning probe microscopy, is the author of over 150 peer-reviewed publications, and holds 5 issued patents.
From 2007-2011, Prof. Carpick served as the University of Pennsylvania Director of the Nanotechnology Institute (NTI), a multi-institutional entity funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that supports the commercialization of nanotechnology by funding university-based translational research with industrial collaboration.