Four scientists associated with the Department of Chemistry have been honored by their election to the National Academy of Sciences.
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.
- in vivo and in vitro biophysics; complex fluids; single molecules, particles, and advanced imaging
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
In The News
In the classic fairy tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes," Hans Christian Andersen uses the eyes of a child to challenge conventional wisdom and help others to see more clearly.
Steve Granick, Founder Professor of Engineering , and professor of materials science and engineering , of chemistry , of chemical and biomolecular engineering , and of physics , was awarded the Polymer Physics Prize of the American Physical Society.
Like water and ice cubes mixed in a glass, a group of organic compounds called lipids can coexist as liquid and solid in membranes. This patchiness in phospholipid membranes is fundamental to their use as biomolecules and biosensors.
An innovative strategy of mixing lipids and nanoparticles to produce new drug and agricultural materials and delivery vehicles has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.