Steve Granick

 Steve Granick

Contact Information

Department of Chemistry
University of Illinois
1022 F. Seitz Materials Research Laboratory
104 South Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
Adjunct Professor of Chemistry
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Additional Campus Affiliations

  • Professor - Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology
  • Emeritus Professor - Materials Science & Engineerng


Professor Granick received his B.A. cum laude from Princeton University in 1978 and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1982. He joined the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1985 following postdoctoral research at the Collège de France with P.-G. de Gennes and at the University of Minnesota with Matthew Tirrell. His research interests are in the areas of single-molecule methods, polymers, complex fluids, and biomaterials.

Research Interests

  • in vivo and in vitro biophysics; complex fluids; single molecules, particles, and advanced imaging

Research Description

We use methods of physical, analytical, and materials chemistry to study molecules at surfaces. For example, thin films and interfaces of complex fluids (polymers, biopolymers, and other structured fluids) are at the heart of an enormous range of scientific and technological problems: drug delivery, colloidal stability and flocculation, coatings, lubrication, adhesion, chromatographic separation, polymer reinforcement with particulate fillers, and the blood compatibility of artificial internal organs. Students in the research group thus gain broad training in a variety of subjects.

Some experiments aim to measure single-molecule behavior, other experiments to measure the ensemble average. With unique instruments in the laboratory we study the motions and relaxations of fluid molecules in intimate contact with a solid surface. We measure equilibrium surface forces and also their dynamical responses over a wide range of excitation frequency and shear rate. A key point of this work is that interfacial forces depend strongly on time and rate. We would like to understand these rates, and learn how to control them. This research gets down to the fundamentals of surface-surface interactions, adhesion, friction, and surface recognition, at the direct level of molecular forces.

We also make much use of femtosecond laser fluorescence spectroscopy, and also of fluorescence imaging methods, to probe the surface diffusion rates, rotational relaxation times, surface conformations, and binding-unbinding rates of polymers, polyelectrolytes, DNA, and proteins. The surfaces are metallic, inorganic, and biological (lipid bilayers). These questions of the surface mobility of polymers and biopolymers, and how and why the relaxation between states is different from in the bulk, form the basis of many significant scientific problems to whose solution we would like to contribute - in areas from tribology to biology.

Students in this group include chemists, physicists, and engineers. This diversity of background and perspective helps to maintain a particularly stimulating environment.

Postdoctoral positions are sometimes available for persons with experience in laser spectroscopy. Inquiries are always welcome.

Distinctions / Awards

  • Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 2015
  • Polymer Physics Prize, American Physical Society, 2009
  • Chair, Gordon Conference on Liquids, 2009
  • Dow Lecture, MIT, 2008
  • Chair, Division of Polymer Physics, American Physical Society, 2006
  • Dorn Lecture, Northwestern University, 2006
  • Center for Advanced Study, Univ. Illinois, 2006

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