Our department of 24 faculty, 389 undergraduates, and 187 graduate students welcomes you. Established in 1867, we have a long tradition of excellence in teaching, research, and service.

Steve Granick

Steve Granick
Emeritus Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Office 1022 F. Seitz Materials Research Laboratory

Telephone 217-333-5720 Fax 217-244-2278

Mail Address Department of Materials Science and Engineering
1304 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801 

sgranick@illinois.edu    Granick research group page

  • Profile
  • Research
  • Publications
  • Awards


Professor Granick received his BA cum laude from Princeton University in 1978 and his PhD 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 honors include: Fellow in the Center for Advanced Study of UIUC, 1990; Fellow, American Physcial Society, 1992; NSF Award for Special Creativity, 1993; Sabbatical Professor, Kyoto University, Japan, 1994; University Scholar, UIUC 1997; Founder Professor of Engineering, 1999-2013; Paris-Sciences Professor 2002; Guest Professor of Polymer Chemistry, Peking University, 2002 to date; Invited Foreign Professor, University of Bordeaux (France), 2003; Chair, Division of Polymer Physics, American Physical Society, 2006; Associate, Center for Advanced Study, UIUC, 2006; Guest Professor of Chemical Physics, USTC (China), 2006 to date; Polymer Physics Prize, APS, 2009; National Award in Colloid and Surface Chemistry, ACS, 2013; and Racheff Chair, 2013 to date. His research interests are in the areas of polymers, colloids, biomaterials and imaging.


We are an experimental group interested in the interface between materials science, chemistry, physics and biology. We have strong collaborations, within UIUC and also with colleagues in industry and in government labs. Students in this group include materials scientists, chemists, physicists, and chemical engineers. This diversity of background and perspective helps to maintain a particularly stimulating environment. On our group Web page, 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 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.


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).

Yan Yu, Julie A. Vroman, Sung Chul Bae, and Steve Granick, "Vesicle Budding Induced by Pore-Forming Peptide," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 132, 195 (2010). Highlighted: Nature 463, 439 (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 Yet Brownian," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA. 106, 15160 (2009).

Steve Granick and Sung Chul Bae, "A Curious Antipathy for Water," Science 322, 1477 (2008).

Bo Wang, Liangfang Zhang, Sung Chul Bae, and Steve Granick, "Nanoparticle-Induced Surface Reconstruction of Phospholipid Membranes," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA. 105, 18171 (2008). Highlighted: Nature Nanotechnology.

Liang Hong, Angelo Cacciuto, Erik, Luijten, and Steve Granick, "Clusters of Amphiphilic Colloid Spheres," Langmuir 24, 621 (2008).

Yan Yu, Stephen M. Anthony, Liangfang Zhang, Sun 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).

L. Hong, A. Cacciuto, E. Luijten, and S. Granick, "Clusters of Charged Janus Spheres," Nano Lett. 6, 2510 (2006).

S. Anthony, L. Hong, M. Kim, and S. Granick, "Single-particle colloid tracking in four dimensions," Langmuir 22, 9812 (2006).

L. Zhang, S. Granick, "How to Stabilize Phospholipid Liposomes (Using Nanparticles)," Nano Lett. 6 (2006): 694; Highlighted: Science 311 (2006): 1347; Nature Materials 5, 249 (2006).

L. Zhang and S. Granick, "Slaved Diffusion in Phospholipid Bilayers," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 102, 9118 (2005).

  • National Award in Colloid and Surface Chemistry, ACS (2013)
  • Polymer Physics Prize, APS (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, University of Illinois (2006)
  • Chair, DOE Council on Materials Panel on Polymers at Interfaces (2002)
  • Paris-Sciences Medal, City of Paris (2002)
  • University Scholar, University of Illinois (1997)
  • Senior Xerox Award, University of Illinois (1993)
  • NSF Award for Special Creativity (1993)
  • Fellow, American Physical Society (1992)