Steve Granick

Steve Granick
Steve Granick

Steve Granick

Emeritus Professor
Materials Science and Engineering
1022 Seitz Materials Research Lab MC 230
104 S. Goodwin
Urbana Illinois 61801

chemistry and physics of colloids and polymers


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 College 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, nanotribology, biophysics, and soft matter.

Professor Granick is a Founder Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Professor of Physics and Biophysics, Chemistry, and Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Academic and Scientific Experience

Professional Highlights

  • Steve Granick graduated from Princeton University in 1978 and in 1982 earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin. His Ph.D. studies were with John D. Ferry (deceased), who was the pre-eminent polymer physical chemist of his generation. His postdoctoral research was with P.-G. de Gennes (deceased), who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1991. Until joining the IBS, Granick was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA) without interruption since 1985, most recently as the Racheff Chair of Materials Science and Engineering, Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Professor of Physics and Biophysics. In 2014, Steve Granick founded the IBS Center for Soft and Living Matter. Granick's research with his students and collaborators has been notable for contributions to diverse areas of science rather than any single one. Their publications have received over 10,000 citations.


  • Postdoctorate, College de France and University of Minnesota, 1983-1984
  • Ph.D. - Chemistry - University of Wisconsin - 1982
  • B.A. - Sociology - Princeton Univ. (Cum laude) - 1978

Academic Positions

  • Univerisity of Illinois, Department of Physics (0%) (2000-present)
  • University of Illinois, Department of Chemistry (0%) (2000-present)
  • University of Illinois, Department of Chemical Engineering (0%) (2000-present)
  • University of Illinois, Founder Professor of Materials Science and Engineering (1999-present)

Courses Taught

  • CHEM 488 - Surfaces and Colloids
  • MSE 450 - Polymer Science & Engineering
  • MSE 480 - Surfaces and Colloids

Research Statement

We are an experimental group interested in the interface between disciplines. We have strong collaborations, within UIUC and also with colleagues in industry and in government labs. Students in this group include chemical engineers, materials scientists, chemists, and physicists. This diversity of background and perspective helps to maintain a particularly stimulating environment. On our group webpage, each student explains his/her own work, in his/her own words.

We are interested in "soft materials", fluid membranes, liposomes, polymers, colloids, and other structured liquids, and presently focus on their behavior at surfaces. This is important because the structure, properties, and reactivity of matter at a surface can be very different from that in bulk. Thin films and interfaces of these complex fluids are at the heart of an enormous range of scientific and technological problems: drug delivery, colloidal stability and flocculation, coatings, lubrication, adhesion, polymer reinforcement with nanoparticles, and biocompatibility. Students in the research group thus gain broad training in a variety of subjects. The strengths of this group are in creatively devising new experimental approaches, using new experimental tools, to ask (and answer) new questions about these important problems.

One research theme is imaging, sometimes by single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, sometimes by Raman spectroscopy and other confocal methods. We make much use of these optical methods to track single molecules and nanoparticles, as well as to study how to induce them to self-assemble in novel, interesting ways. Femtosecond laser fluorescence spectroscopy is used to probe the surface diffusion rates, rotational relaxation times, surface conformations, and binding-unbinding rates of polymers, polyelectrolytes, DNA and proteins. 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.

Imaging is often combined with nanorheology experiments. We measure equilibrium forces of interaction between surfaces and have also devised a new device, a molecular tribometer, to measure 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.

Research Interests

  • Soft Materials, Nanoscience, Colloids, Imaging

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Qian Chen, Sung Chul Bae, and Steve Granick, "Directed self-assembly of a colloidal kagome lattice," Nature 469, 381 (2011).
  • Qian Chen, Jonathan Whitmer, Shan Jiang, Sung Chul Bae, Erik Luijten, and Steve Granick, "Supracolloidal reaction kinetics of Janus Spheres," Science 331, 199 (2011).
  • B. Wang, J. Guan, S. M. Anthony, S.C. Bae, K.S. Schweizer and S. Granick, "Confining potential when a biopolymer filament reptates," Physical Review Letters 104(11), 118301 (2010).
  • Yan Yu, Julie A. Vroman, Sung Chul Bae, and Steve Granick, "Vesicle Budding Induced by Pore-Forming Peptide," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 132(1), 195-201 (2010).
  • Yan Yu and Steve Granick, "Pearling of lipid vesicles induced by nanoparticles," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 31, 14158 (2009).
  • Bo Wang, Stephen M. Anthony, Sung Chul Bae, and Steve Granick, "Anomalous but Brownian," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 106, 15160 (2009).
  • Yan Yu, Stephen M. Anthony, Sung Chul Bae, Erik Luijten, Steve Granick, "Biomolecular Science of Liposome-Nanoparticle Constructs," Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 507, 18 (2009).
  • M. Kim, S. M. Anthony, and S. Granick, "Activated Surface Diffusion in a Simple Colloid System," Phys. Rev. Lett., 102, 178303 (2009).
  • S. Granick and S. C. Bae, "A Curious Antipathy for Water" (Perspective), Science 322, 1477 (2008).
  • B. Wang, L. Zhang, S.C. Bae, and S. Granick, "Nanoparticle-Induced Surface Reconstruction of Phospholipid Membranes," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 105, 18171-18175 (2008).
  • Liang Hong, Angelo Cacciuto, Erik Luijten, and Steve Granick, "Clusters of Amphiphilic Colloidal Spheres," Langmuir 24, 621 (2007).
  • Yan Yu, Stephen M. Anthony, Liangfang Zhang, Sung Chul Bae, and Steve Granick, "Cationic Nanoparticles Stabilize Zwitterionic Liposomes Better than Anionic Ones," J. Phys. Chem. C 111, 2833 (2007).
  • S. Granick and S. C. Bae, "Molecular Motion at Soft and Hard Interfaces: from Phospholipid Bilayers to Polymers and Lubricants," Annu. Rev. Phys. Chem., 58, 353 (2007).
  • A. Poynor, L. Hong, I. K. Robinson, S. Granick, Z. Zhang, P. A. Fenter, "How Water Meets a Hydrophobic Surface," Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 266101 (2006).
  • S. Anthony, L. Hong, M. Kim, and S. Granick, "Single-Particle Colloid Tracking in Four Dimensions," Langmuir 22, 9812-9815 (2006).
  • L. Hong, A. Cacciuto, E. Luijten, and S. Granick, "Clusters of Charged Janus Spheres," Nano Letters 6, 2510 (2006).
  • L. Zhang and S. Granick, "How to Stabilize Phospholipid Vesicles (Using Nanoparticles)," Nano Letters 6, 694 (2006).
  • L. Zhang and S. Granick, "Slaved Diffusion in Phospholipid Bilyers," MRS Bulletin (invited).

Research Honors

  • 2009 Polymer Physics Prize, American Physical Society (2009)
  • Dow Lecture, MIT (2008)
  • Dorn Lecture, Northwestern University (2006)
  • Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois (2006)
  • Paris-Sciences Medal, City of Paris (2002)
  • Named as Founder Professor of Engineering, UIUC (1999)
  • University Scholar, UIUC (1997)
  • NSF Award for Special Creativity (1993)
  • Senior Xerox Award,UIUC (1993)
  • Fellow, American Physical Society (1992)