Stefan Zauscher

Image of Stefan Zauscher

Sternberg Family Professor of Mechanical Engineering & 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
  • Sternberg Family Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science
  • Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Professor in the Department of Chemistry
  • Director of Graduate Studies
Contact Information:
  • Office Location: 144 Hudson Hall, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: (919) 660-5360
  • Email Address:
  • Web Page:

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

Curriculum Vitae
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


Nanomaterial manufacturing and characterization
Polymer and Protein Engineering
Sensing and sensor systems

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions:

  • ICCES Young Investigator Award, International Center for Computational Engineering Sciences
  • NSF Early CAREER Award, National Science Foundation
  • Oak Ridge Associated Universities Faculty Enhancement Award, Oak Ridge Associated Universities
  • Young Investigator Award, American Academy of Nanomedicine
  • Bronze Award for Scientific Achievement, 26th Army Science Conference, U.S. Army Research

Courses Taught:
  • BME 394: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 493: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 494: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 529: Theoretical and Applied Polymer Science (GE, BB)
  • BME 791: Graduate Independent Study
  • EGR 391: Projects in Engineering
  • ME 492: Special Projects in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 493: Engineering Undergraduate Fellows Projects
  • ME 494: Engineering Undergraduate Fellows Projects
  • ME 514: Theoretical and Applied Polymer Science (GE, BB)
  • ME 555: Advanced Topics in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 759: Special Readings in Mechanical Engineering
  • MENG 550: Master of Engineering Internship/Project
  • MENG 551: Master of Engineering internship/Project Assessment

Representative Publications: (More Publications)
    • Chang, DP; Guilak, F; Jay, GD; Zauscher, S, Interaction of lubricin with type II collagen surfaces: adsorption, friction, and normal forces., Journal of Biomechanics, vol 47 no. 3 (2014), pp. 659-666 [10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.11.048] [abs].
    • Wilusz, RE; Zauscher, S; Guilak, F, Micromechanical mapping of early osteoarthritic changes in the pericellular matrix of human articular cartilage., Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, vol 21 no. 12 (2013), pp. 1895-1903 [10.1016/j.joca.2013.08.026] [abs].
    • Ferris, RJ; Lin, S; Therezien, M; Yellen, BB; Zauscher, S, Electric double layer formed by polarized ferroelectric thin films., ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, vol 5 no. 7 (2013), pp. 2610-2617 [10.1021/am3031954] [abs].
    • Parlak, Z; Biet, C; Zauscher, S, Decoupling mass adsorption from fluid viscosity and density in quartz crystal microbalance measurements using normalized conductance modeling, Measurement Science and Technology, vol 24 no. 8 (2013) [10.1088/0957-0233/24/8/085301] [abs].
    • Malmsten, M; Zauscher, S, Colloids and surfaces in biology, Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science (2013) [10.1016/j.cocis.2013.07.003] [abs].
Professional Society Service:
  • American Chemical Society (ACS):
    • - Division of Polymer Chemistry (POLY)
    • - Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE)
    • - Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry (COLL)
    American Vacuum Society (AVS)
    • - Biomaterial Interfaces Division (BID)
    Materials Research Society (MRS)