Zauscher Lab | Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Duke University


Zauscher Receives the Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research

In April 2012, Prof. Zauscher received the Capers and Marion McDonald Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research from the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. In annually recognizing the career achievements of one individual, this award honors all of our engineering faculty, who, over the years, through excellence in both teaching and research have challenged and nurtured our students and strongly contributed to knowledge.

Prof. Stefan Zauscher Receives a Named Professorship

In May 2012 Prof. Zauscher was inducted into the Bass Society of Fellows and was named the Sternberg Family Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.

Intelligent Surfaces in Biotechnology

This book, edited by Marcus Textor and Michelle Grandin will become
available soon at Wiley-VCH.

Check out Chapter 1:  “Stimulus Responsive Polymers as Intelligent Coatings for Biosensors: Architectures, Response Mechanisms, and Applications”
Vinalia Tjong, Jianming Zhang, Ashutosh Chilkoti and Stefan Zauscher

Triangle MRSEC Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) 2012!

The Triangle MRSEC is studying programmed assembly of soft matter, inventing materials that have never before existed and creating ways to use those materials.

Click here:

REU Projects in the Zauscher Lab:

Temperature-Triggered Micellization of ELP-DNA Block Copolymers

Many efforts have been made to advance new drug delivery system with optimal therapeutic activity while minimize negative side effect. Reversible micellar self-assembly of amphiphilic block copolymer system is becoming an increasingly interesting candidate as a drug delivery vehicle. Here we develop novel block copolymer systems that consist of a polypeptide block with thermally reversible phase transition (Tt), and a hydrophilic, single stranded polydeoxynucleotide (ssPDN) block. The polypeptide block also serves as a macroinitiator for the enzymatic growth of the ssPDN block, using a template-independent polymerase –terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT). This REU project will focus on the characterization of the resulting diblock copolymers and their self assembly behavior as a function of block molecular weight and temperature. Students will work in a team environment and will be trained in relevant characterization techniques such as static light scattering, AFM imaging, and small angle X-ray scattering.


Programmed Self-Assembly of Biomacromolecules and Colloidal Particles on Polarized Ferroelectric Thin Films

To date, control over surface charge is largely achieved by chemical patterning and setting the solution pH and ionic strength. These approaches lead to relatively low lateral resolution and surfaces of usually fixed charge. We are currently developing a new approach in which the surface charge density can be switched and controlled with tens of nanometer lateral resolution. Such surfaces have significant promise for detection and sensing applications as they should 1) enable control over the conformation of proteins and polymers at interfaces, 2) enable control over the hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity at the solid/liquid interface, 3) enable control over surface reactivity, and 4) enable the capture and release of drugs and other biological materials onto/from device surfaces. Our approach relies on the high surface charge density that can be achieved by imprinting local surface charge states into programmable ferroelectric thin films, such as lead zirconium titanate (PZT). This in turn can be harnessed for directing the localized self-assembly of biomacromolecules and colloidal particles on the surface. This research is materials science oriented and involves characterization by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), AFM, and ferroelectric capacitance measurements. The project also entails the nanoscale encoding of the polarization of the ferroelectric film locally using the AFM and subsequent characterization of the surface charge pattern and its interaction with proteins, organic molecules and colloidal particles in the immediate vicinity of the surface.

Jan 17, 2012, Prof. Zauscher Presents Invited Lecture at Bio-Inspired Engineering Symposium at Harvard

Lecture: Design and Use of Surface-Tethered (Bio)Macromolecular Nanostructures for Nanomechanical Sensing and Novel Detection and Amplification Platforms


Stefan Zauscher Promoted to Full Professor!

In January 2012, Dr. Zauscher was promoted to Full Professor.

Biointerface Science GRC 2012!

Please consider attending the 2012 Biointerface Science Gordon Research Conference (GRC). The GRC will be held in Les Diablerets, Switzerland, May 20-25, 2012.

(1) Responsive Bio-Interfaces  (Sunday PM)
Discussion Leader: Atul Parikh (Chemical Engineering, UC Davis, USA)
Bo Liedberg (Material Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Brent S. Sumerlin (Chemistry, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, USA)
(2) Interfacial Architectures  (Monday AM)
Discussion Leader: Ashutosh Chilkoti (Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, USA)
Curtis W. Frank (Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, USA)
Jürgen Rühe (Department of Microsystems Engineering, University of Freiburg, Germany)
Jean-Pierre Majoral (Chemistry, CNRS, Toulouse, France)
(3) Modeling of Biointerfaces    (Monday PM)
Discussion Leader: Michael Grunze (Physical Chemistry, University of Heidelberg, Germany)
Roland Netz (Physics, Free University of Berlin, Germany)
Yaroslava G. Yingling (Materials Science and Engineering, NC State University, Raleigh, USA)
(4) Nanoscopic Systems and Interfaces  (Tuesday AM)
Discussion Leader: Uwe Sleytr (NanoBiotechnology, University of Natural Resources, Vienna, Austria)
Zhenan Bao (Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, USA)
Erik Reimhult (NanoBiotechnology, University of Natural Resources, Vienna, Austria)
Stefan Diez (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany)
(5) Bio-Active Interfaces   (Tuesday PM)
Discussion Leader: Janos Vörös (Biomedical Engineering, ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
Gero Decher (Institut Charles Sadron, CNRS, Strasbourg, France)
Rigoberto Advincula (Chemistry, University of Houston, USA)
(6) Biointerfaces and Devices  (Wednesday AM)
Discussion Leader: Robert Clark (School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Rochester, USA)
Sabine Szunerits (Chemistry, CNRS, University of Lille, France)
Catherine Klapperich (Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, USA)
Fabio Biscarini (Institute for Nanostructured Materials, Bologna, Italy)
(7) Membranes    (Wednesday PM)
Discussion Leader: Steve Boxer (Chemistry, Stanford University, USA)
Steve Evans (Physics, University of Leeds, United Kingdom)
Alain Brisson (Biology, CNRS, University of Bordeaux, France)
(8) Cells and Cellular Structures I    (Thursday AM)
Discussion Leader: Willi Jahnen-Dechent (Cell and Molecular Biology, RWTH Aachen, Germany)
Kevin Healy (Bioengineering, UC Berkeley, USA)
Kam Leong (Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, USA)
Horst Vogel (Physical Chemistry, EPF Lausanne, Switzerland)
(9) Cells and Cellular Structures II    (Thursday PM)
Discussion Leader: Annette Brunsen (Chemistry, TU-Darmstadt, Germany)
Ali Miserez (School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Dan Morse (Molecular Biology, UC Santa Barbara, USA)

Triangle MRSEC: Check us out!


Ferroelectric Concept Paper Published in Small

Ferroelectric Thin Films in Fluidic Environments: A New Interface for Sensing and Manipulation of Matter

Robert Ferris, Benjamin Yellen and Stefan Zauscher

DOI: 10.1002/smll.201101173

HIV-1 Screening Paper Accepted by Journal of Immunological Methods

Congratulations to Greg Hardy and Yee Lam, their paper on “Screening interactions between HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies and model lipid surfaces” was accepted for publication in the Journal of Immunological Methods.

SMALL Concept Paper Accepted!

Congratulations to Rob Ferris. The concept paper on “Ferroelectric Thin Films in Aqueous Environments: A New Interface for Sensing and Manipulation of Matter” was accepted for publication in the journal SMALL.

Lei Tang wins AVS Dorothy M. and Earl S. Hoffman Travel Grant!

Lei will present her research at the 58th AVS International Symposium & Exhibition in Nashville, TN, October 28-November 4, 2011.


Stefan Zauscher is the Education Director for NSF Triangle Materials Research Science & Engineering Center



Through a six year, $13.6M grant, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Materials Research has established a multi-university center in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina to investigate aspects and applications of programmable assembly of soft matter. The Triangle MRSEC ( will include researchers at Duke University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and North Carolina Central University and will include two primary interdisciplinary research groups (IRGs) as well as seed projects. IRG1 is focused on multicomponent colloidal assembly and will develop fundamental understanding of self-assembly of bulk functional materials from multi-component colloidal suspensions. IRG2 is focused on the concept of syntax in the sequence of genetically encoded peptides with a deliberate goal of understanding programmable self-assembly of these peptides into supramolecular nano- to meso-scale structures. Both IRGs will combine elements of synthesis, characterization, theory and simulation to develop fundamental understanding for creation of useful new types of soft matter via programmable assembly and will also proactively engage in translating discoveries and innovations to the commercial sector. The Triangle MRSEC will be a national resource for soft matter materials science / engineering research and education in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (Triangle) area of North Carolina, a thriving technological and economic hub with a high concentration of materials innovation activity in both academia and industry.


Congratulations to Rob Ferris for passing his Preliminary Exam!

Greg Hardy in Australia (Summer 2011)

Field-Induced Nanolithography Paper accepted by SMALL

The paper “Field-Induced Nanolithography for Patterning of Non-Fouling Polymer Brush Surfaces” by Robert Ferris, Angus Hucknall, Byung Seok Kwon, Tao Chen, Ashutosh Chilkoti, and Stefan Zauscher* was just accepted for publication in the journal Small. Congrats!

Zauscher Complete CV

Please click here for Zauscher CV .

NSF summer fellowship

Gregory Hardy was awarded NSF’s East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) fellowship and will be spending the summer in Adelaide, Australia. He will be collaborating with Joe Shapter from Flinders University to image complex biomimetic lipid membranes. Congrats Greg! Make sure you bring us back some good wine : )

ACC Cycling Championships

Our very own, Robert Ferris came in second at the Virginia Tech ACC Conference Cycling Championships in Blacksburg, VA, and the team took the championship—earning the first ever ACC Division II Championship for Duke Cycling. The team’s blog ( gives a heart-pumping description of the heavy rains, dangerous crashes, broken derailleurs, descents through streams of water rushing pedal-high across the road, and confusing mass starts. Congratulations Rob!