Mark Hersam


Director, Northwestern University Materials Research Center

The Hersam Research Group applies the fundamental paradigm of materials science and engineering (i.e., the development of structure-property-processing-performance relationships) to hybrid hard and soft materials at the nanometer length scale. In many cases, the objective is to apply organic molecules to inorganic substrates in an effort to increase the functionality of the resulting hybrid system (e.g., silicon-based molecular electronics and graphene-based sensing). In other instances, an experimental technique that was originally developed for inorganic materials is adapted for the study of organic or biological systems (e.g., probing ion channels and organic photovoltaic devices using conductive atomic force microscopy).

This highly interdisciplinary research is enabled by a sophisticated suite of instrumentation including ultra-high vacuum (UHV) scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and additional equipment for studying the electrical and optical properties of materials.

Ongoing research projects range from fundamental studies (e.g., single molecule spectroscopy with UHV STM) to applied technology development (e.g., optimization of carbon nanotube and graphene materials for electronic and optical devices).

Overall, this research has wide impact in the fields of information technology, energy technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.