Stefan Zauscher

Professor in the Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

My research lies at the intersection of surface and colloid science, polymer materials engineering, and biointerface science, with four central areas of focus: 1. Fabrication, manipulation and characterization of stimulus-responsive biomolecular and bio-inspired polymeric nanostructures on surfaces; 2. Nanotechnology of soft-wet materials and hybrid biological/non-biological microdevices; 3. Receptor-ligand interactions relevant to the diagnostics of infectious diseases; 4. Friction of soft-wet materials, specifically the role of glycoproteins on friction in diarthroidal joints. These four broad lines of inquiry deal with fundamental behaviors of soft-wet materials on surfaces and interfaces. The design and fabrication of these interfaces using "smart" polymeric and biomolecular nanostructures, and the characterization of the resulting structures, are critically important for the development of biomolecular sensors and devices and for bioinspired materials. Key approaches and tools I use in my research are: bottom-up organization on the molecular scale, through self-assembly, in-situ polymerization, and manipulation of intermolecular interactions; topdown fabrication, through scanning probe nanolithography; stimulus-responsive polymers; molecular recognition; and new approaches to sensing and manipulation. This research supports Duke's Pratt School of Engineering strategic initiative to expand research in soft-wet Materials Science.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor in the Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Associate Chair in Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Bass Fellow
  • Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 3385 Fciemas Building, Box 90300, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: (919) 660-5360
  • Email Address: zauscher@duke.edu
  • Websites:

Education

  • M.S. Oregon State University, 1992
  • Ph.D. University of Wisconsin - Madison, 1999

Research Interests

Nano-mechanical and nano-tribological characterization (elasticity, friction, adhesion) of materials including organic thin films; self-assembled monolayers, polymeric gels, and cellulosics; Fabrication of polymeric nanostructures by scanning probe lithography; Colloidal probe and atomic force microscopy; Single molecule force spectroscopy applied to ligand-receptor binding; Biomolecular nano- and micro-sensors

Courses Taught

  • BME 529: Properties and Characterization of Polymeric Materials
  • ME 221L: Structure and Properties of Solids
  • ME 391: Undergraduate Projects in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 490: Special Topics in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 514: Properties and Characterization of Polymeric Materials
  • ME 555: Advanced Topics in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 758S: Curricular Practical Training
  • MSEG 591: Independent Study

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Bekir, M., C. Brückner, S. Zauscher, and M. Gradzielski. “Polyelectrolyte brushes affect the adsorption kinetics of nanoparticles onto lipid membranes (Accepted).” Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects 677 (November 20, 2023). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.colsurfa.2023.132354.
  • Yang, Yunqi, Qinyi Lu, Yu Chen, Marcello DeLuca, Gaurav Arya, Yonggang Ke, and Stefan Zauscher. “Spatiotemporal Control over Polynucleotide Brush Growth on DNA Origami Nanostructures.” Angewandte Chemie (International Ed. in English) 62, no. 48 (November 2023): e202311727. https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.202311727.
  • Yang, Yunqi, Qinyi Lu, Yu Chen, Marcello DeLuca, Gaurav Arya, Yonggang Ke, and Stefan Zauscher. “Spatiotemporal Control over Polynucleotide Brush Growth on DNA Origami Nanostructures.” Angewandte Chemie, October 25, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1002/ange.202311727.
  • Gonzales, G., S. Zauscher, and S. Varghese. “Progress in the design and synthesis of viscosupplements for articular joint lubrication.” Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science 66 (August 1, 2023). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cocis.2023.101708.
  • Young, Michael N., Michael J. Sindoni, Amanda H. Lewis, Stefan Zauscher, and Jörg Grandl. “The energetics of rapid cellular mechanotransduction.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 120, no. 8 (February 21, 2023): e2215747120. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2215747120.