Chemistry at Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Ralph Nuzzo

G. L. Clark Professor of Chemistry
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering


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.


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.


“Conjugated Carbon Monolayer Membranes: Methods for Synthesis and Integration,” Unarunotai, S.; Murata, Y.; Chialvo, C. E.; Mason, N.; Petrov, I.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Moore, J. S.; Rogers, J. A. Advanced Materials 2010, 22, 1072-1077.

“Functional Nanostructured Plasmonic Materials,” Yao, J.; Le, A.-P.; Gray, S. K.; Moore, J. S.; Rogers, J. A.; Nuzzo, R. G. Advanced Materials 2010, 22, 1102-1110.

“Characterization of Ziegler-type Hydrogenation Catalysts Made From [1,5-COD)Ir(µ-O2C8H15)]2 and AlEt3 or Al(t-Bu)3,”  Kayiran, I.; Allet, W. M.; Wang, Q.; Frenkel, A. I.; Menard, L. D.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Ozkar, S.; Johnson, K.; Finke, R. G. Inorg. Chem. 2010, 49, 8131-8147.

“Bifunctional Polyacrylamide-based Polymers for the Specific Binding of Hexahistidine Tagged Proteins on Au Surfaces,” Thompson, L. B.; Mack, N. H.; Nuzzo, R. G. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2010, 12, 4301-4308.

“Visualizing Materials Chemistry at Atomic Resolution,” Sanchez; S. I.; Small, M. W.; Sivarmakrishnan, S.; Zuo, J.-M.; Nuzzo, R. G. Analyt. Chem. 2010, 82, 2599-2607.

Compact monocrystalline silicon solar modules with high voltage outputs and mechanically flexible designs,” Baca, A. J.; Yu, K. J.; Xiao, J.; Yoon, J.; Ryu, J. H.; Stevenson, D.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Rockett, A. A.; Huang, Y.; Rogers, J. A. Energy & Environmental Science 2010, 3, 208-211.

“Capillary Induced Self-Assembly of Thin Foils into 3D Structures,” Li, H.; Guo, X.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Hsia, K. J. J. Mech. Phys. Sol. 2010, 58, 2033-2042.

“Microfluidic Contact Printing: A Versatile Printing-based Platform for Patterning Biomolecular Inks on Hydrogel Substrates,” Zhang, H.; Hanson, J. N.; Nuzzo, R. G. Soft Matter 2010, 6, 2238-2245.

“3D Microperiodic Hydrogel Scaffolds for Robust Neuronal Cultures,” Hanson Sheppard, J. N.; Parker, S. T.; Sheppard, R. F.; Lewis, J. A.; Nuzzo, R. G. Advanced Functional Materials 2011, 21, 46-54.

“Guiding Neuron Development with Planar Surface Gradients of Substrate Cues Deposited using Microfluidic Devices,” Millet, L. J.;Stewart, M. E.;Nuzzo, R. G.;Gillette, M. U. Lab on a Chip 2010, 10, 1525-1535.

“Fabrication of Microstructured Silicon (µs-Si) from a Bulk Single Crystal Wafer and its use in the Fabrication of High Performance Thin Film Transistors on Plastic Substrates,” Lee, K. J.; Ahn, H.; Motala, M. J.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Menard, E.; Rogers, J. A. Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, 2010, 20, AN 075018.

“A Permeation-Based Microfluidic Direct Formic Acid Fuel Cell (DFAFC),” Erickson, E.; Mitrovski, S. M.; Gewirth, A. A.; Nuzzo, R. G. Journal of Electrophoresis 2011, in press.

“Genotyping by Alkaline Dehybridization Using Graphically Encoded Particles,“ Zhang,, H.; DeConinck, A. J.; Slimmer, S. C.; Doyle, P. S.; Lewis, J. A.; Nuzzo, R. G. Chemistry—A European Journal 2011, in press.

“Waterproof AlInGaP Optoelectronics on Flexible Tubing, Sutures, Gloves and Other Unusual Substrates, With Application Examples in Biomedicine and Robotics,” Kim, R.-H.; Kim, D.-H.; Xiao, J.; Kim, B. H.; Park, S.-I.; Panilaitis, B.; Ghaffari, R.; Yao, J.; Li, M.; Liu, Z.; Malyarchuk, V.; Kim, D. G.; Le, A.-P.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Kaplan, D. L.; Omenetto, F. G.; Huang, Y.; Zhan Kang, Z.;  Rogers, J. A. Nature Materials 2010¸ 9, 929-937.

“Conformal Printing of Electrically Small Antennas onto Three-Dimensional Surfaces,” Adams, J. J.; Duoss, E. B.; Malkowski, T. F.; Motala, M. J.; Ahn, B. Y.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Bernhard, J. T.; Lewis, J. A. Advanced Materials 2011, ASAP.

“Strain Anisotropies and Self-limiting Capacities in Single-crystalline 3D Silicon Microstructures: Models for High Energy Density Li-ion Battery Anodes,” Goldman, J.; Long, B. R.; Gewirth, A. A.; Nuzzo, R. G. Advanced Functional Materials 2011, in press.

“The Atomic Structural Dynamics of γ-Al2O3 Supported Ir-Pt Nanocluster Catalysts Prepared From a Bimetallic Molecular Precursor: A Study Using Aberration-Corrected Electron Microscopy and X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy,” Small, M. W.; Sanchez, S. I.; Menard, L. D.; Kang, J. H.; Frenkel, A. I.; Nuzzo, R. G. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, ASAP.

“Theory for Optimal Design of Waveguiding Light Concentrators in Photovoltaic Microcell Arrays,” Semichaivsky, A. V.; Johnson, H. T.; Yoon, J.; Li, L.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Rogers, J. A. submitted.

“A Finite-Deformation Mechanics Theory for Kinetically Controlled Transfer Printing,” Feng, X.; Bowen, A. M.; Meitl, M. A.; Huang, Y.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Rogers, J. A. submitted.

“Industrial Ziegler-type Hydrogenation Catalysts made from Co(neodecanoate)2 or Ni(2-ethylhexanoate)2, and AlEt3: Evidence for Nanoclusters and Nanocluster-Based Catalysis,” Alley, William M.; Hamdemir, Isil K.; Wang, Qi; Frenkel, Anatoly I.; Li, Long; Yang, Judith C.; Menard, Laurent D.; Nuzzo, Ralph G.; Özkar, Saim; Johnson, Kimberly; Finke, Richard G. submitted.

“Luminescent Solar Concentrators Based on Sparse, Embedded Arrays of Silicon Microcells,” Yoon, J.; Li, L.; Semichaivsky, A. V.; Ryu, J. H.; Johnson, H. T.;; Nuzzo, R. G.; Rogers, J. A. submitted.

“Printed Assemblies of InGaN-based Micro-scale Inorganic Light-emitting Diodes to form White Light Arrays on Transparent and Flexible Substrates.” Kim, H.-S.; Brueckner, E.; Song, J.; Kim, S.; Li, Y.; Lu, C.; Sulkin, J.; Choquette, K.; Huang, Y.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Rogers, J. A. submitted.


  • 2011 Forschungspreis of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • 2009 co-recipient of the IEEE George E. Smith Award
  • 2006 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award for "the development of a process for making large-scale, high-performance electronic circuits that can be applied to any surface."
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2005.
  • Fellow of the AVS, 2007.
  • Professional Engineering Publishing Award, Best Paper of 2006.
  • Recipient of the American Chemical Society's Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Advancement of Surface Chemistry, 2003.
  • Fellow, World Innovation Foundation, 2004.
  • Selected for recognition in 2003, in honor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society's 125th anniversary, as an author of one of the twelve top-ranking papers published in the journal.
  • ISI Essential Science Indicators selection in recognition of citations in molecular self-assembly, 2002.
  • Named G. L. Clark Professor of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008.
  • Named William H. & Janet G. Lycan Professor of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001.
  • Senior Editor, Langmuir, 1996-present.
  • Special Creativity Award, National Science Foundation, 1999-2001.
  • Named Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff in Research, A.T.&T. Bell Laboratories, 1987.


  1. US Patent: “Modification of the Properties of Metal Surfaces and Interfaces,” Allara, D.L.; Nuzzo, R.G., US 4690715 (09/01/1987)
  2. US Patent: “Intermetallic Catalyst Preparation,” Dubois, L.H.; Nuzzo, R.G., US 4,507,401 (10/01/1984)
  3. US Patent: “Aliphatic Aromatization with Intemetallic Group VIII-IIIA, IVA Catalyst,” Dubois, L.H.; Nuzzo, R.G., US 4,612,407 (09/16/1986)
  4. US Patent: “An Improved Process for the Chemical Vapor Deposition of Aluminum,” Green, M.L.; Levy, R.; Nuzzo, R.G.; US 4,716,050 (12/29/1987)
  5. US Patent: “Enhanced Corrosion Resistance of Metal Surfaces,” Dubois, L.H.; Nuzzo, R.G.; US 4,579,752 (04/01/1986)
  6. US Patent: “Self-Assembled Monolayer Directed Patterning of Surfaces”, Nuzzo, R. G.; Clem, P. L.; Payne, D. A. US 6,518,168, issued on 2/11/03.
  7. US Patent: “Decal Transfer Lithography”, Nuzzo, R. G.; Childs, W. R.; Motala, M. A.; Lee, K. J.; US 7,662,545 issued on 02/16/2010.
  8. US Patent: “Decal Transfer Microfabrication”, Nuzzo, R. G.; Childs, W. R. 6,805,809, issued on 10/19/04.
  9. US Patent: “Methods and Devices for Fabricating and Assembling Printable Semiconductor Elements”, Nuzzo, R. G.; Rogers, J.; Menard, E.; Lee, K.-J.; Khang, D.-Y.; Sun, Y.; Meitl, M.; Zhu, Z. 7,622,367, issued on 11/24/2009.
  10. US Patent: “Multispectral Plasmonic Crystal Sensors”, Nuzzo, R. G.; Rogers, J. A.; Mack, N. H.; Malyarchuk, V.; Stewart, M. E.; Yao J., 7,705,280 issued on 04/27/2010.
  11. US Patent: Nuzzo, R. G.; Rogers, J. A.; Khang, D.-Y.; Ko, H. C.; Lee, K. J.; Mack, K.; Meitl, M. A.; Menard, E.; Sun, Y.; Zhu, Z. 7,799,699, “Printable Semiconductor Structures and Related Methods of Making and Assembling”, issued on 07/21/2010.
  12. US Patent: Nuzzo, R. G.; Rogers, J. A.; Khang, D.-Y.; Lee, K. J.; Meitl, M.; Menard, E.; Sun, Y.; Zhu, Z. 11/423,192, “Pattern Transfer Printing by Kinetic Control of Adhesion to an Elastomeric Stamp”, Notice of Allowance 02/10/2011.
  13. US Patent: Rogers, J. A.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Meitl, M. A.; Ko, H. C.; Yoon, J.; Menard, E.; Baca, A. J. 11/858,788, “Release Strategies for Making Transferable Semiconductor Structures, Devices and Device Components”, Notice of Allowance 02/28/2011.


Photo of Ralph Nuzzo