Ralph G. Nuzzo

 Ralph Nuzzo

Contact Information

Department of Chemistry
A128 CLSL, Box 6-6
601 South Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
G.L. Clark Professor of Chemistry
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Additional Campus Affiliations


Professor Nuzzo received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Rutgers University in 1976 and his Ph.D. degree in Organic Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980. After completing his graduate studies he accepted a position at Bell Laboratories, then a part of A.T.&T., where he held the title of Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff in Materials Research. He joined the Illinois faculty in 1991.

Research Interests

  • chemistry of materials, nano and micro-scale fabrication, soft materials, integrated devices and self-organizing structures

Research Description

Our research is concerned broadly with the chemistry of materials. Our research interests are frequently use-inspired, leading us to examine systems-level applications for both common and new materials that strenuously test them in technologically important ways. These efforts exploit state of the art tools as well as lead us to develop new means to fabricate high performance devices that integrate functional materials in new and empowering ways. Our work is providing an increasingly powerful set of capabilities for fabricating devices that embed challenging 2D and 3D nano scale design rules. We also explore in our research fundamental behaviors in materials in contexts where new understandings might engender useful forms of progress and new capabilities. These include: processes occurring at surfaces and interfaces; the properties of complex forms of matter; materials dynamics; catalytic transformations; mechanics and transport; and adhesion as specific examples. In our studies we make frequent use of state of the art methods of spectroscopic analysis and physical characterization. This research makes extensive use of state of the art methods and instrumentation for imaging complex chemical and materials systems. These microscopies provide what are unquestionably the most powerful methods currently available for characterizing important forms of nanoscale materials (especially catalysts) at atomic resolution.

A hallmark of our studies is that we explore systems of diverse form, doing so with an interest in defining novel mechanisms for preparing useful materials structures—whether nanoscale or more macroscopic—from solid, molecular, and other precursors. We integrate these efforts with a larger set of research interests directed at the development of novel methods of micro/nanoscale fabrication and molecular patterning, with an overarching interest to provide new capabilities for technology in areas as diverse as: light weight, flexible, and other novel form factor electronics; photovoltaic energy systems; advanced lighting; optics; batteries, fuel cells, and other electrochemical energy systems; actuators; chemical sensors; and bioanalytical arrays and scaffolds. The materials chemistry relevant to this work is therefore far ranging, spanning metals, semiconductors, polymers, ceramics, biological materials, and ultimately cells. These studies involve many points of collaborative interactions with our colleagues here and at other institutions.


Distinctions / Awards

  • 2013 Affiliated Member of the Faculty, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2013 Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • 2011 Fellow of the American Chemical Society
  • 2011 Research Award (Forschungspreis) of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • 2009 co-recipient of the IEEE George E. Smith Award
  • 2007 Fellow of the AVS.