Stefan Zauscher

Professor in the 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 Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Director of the Duke Materials Initiative
  • 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

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Fellow. American Vacuum Society (AVS). 2020
  • Dean of the Graduate School Award for Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education. Duke University. 2016
  • Chair. 5th Gordon Research Conference in Biointerface Science. 2014
  • Marion and Capers McDonald Award for Excellence in Teaching and Research. Duke University, Pratt School of Engineering. 2012
  • ICCES Young Investigator Award. International Center for Computational Engineering Sciences. 2008
  • Bronze Award for Scientific Achievement. 26th Army Science Conference, U.S. Army Research. 2008
  • Young Investigator Award. American Academy of Nanomedicine. 2005
  • Early CAREER Award. National Science Foundation. 2003
  • Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. National Science Foundation. 2003
  • Faculty Enhancement Award. Oak Ridge Associated Universities. 2001

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 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

  • Simon, Miriam, Albert Prause, Stefan Zauscher, and Michael Gradzielski. “Self-Assembled Single-Stranded DNA Nano-Networks in Solution and at Surfaces.” Biomacromolecules 23, no. 3 (March 2022): 1242–50. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.biomac.1c01493.
  • Gilpin, Anna, Yuze Zeng, Jiaul Hoque, Ji Hyun Ryu, Yong Yang, Stefan Zauscher, William Eward, and Shyni Varghese. “Self-Healing of Hyaluronic Acid to Improve In Vivo Retention and Function.” Adv Healthc Mater 10, no. 23 (December 2021): e2100777. https://doi.org/10.1002/adhm.202100777.
  • Yang, Yunqi, Qinyi Lu, Chao‐Min Huang, Hongji Qian, Yunlong Zhang, Sonal Deshpande, Gaurav Arya, Yonggang Ke, and Stefan Zauscher. “Programmable Site‐Specific Functionalization of DNA Origami with Polynucleotide Brushes.” Angewandte Chemie 133, no. 43 (October 18, 2021): 23429–35. https://doi.org/10.1002/ange.202107829.
  • Yang, Yunqi, Qinyi Lu, Chao-Min Huang, Hongji Qian, Yunlong Zhang, Sonal Deshpande, Gaurav Arya, Yonggang Ke, and Stefan Zauscher. “Programmable Site-Specific Functionalization of DNA Origami with Polynucleotide Brushes.” Angewandte Chemie (International Ed. in English) 60, no. 43 (October 2021): 23241–47. https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.202107829.
  • Navarro, Luis A., Justin J. Ryan, Michael Dzuricky, Michael Gradzielski, Ashutosh Chilkoti, and Stefan Zauscher. “Microphase Separation of Resilin-like and Elastin-like Diblock Copolypeptides in Concentrated Solutions.” Biomacromolecules 22, no. 9 (September 2021): 3827–38. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.biomac.1c00672.