Michael Strano Ph.D.

Strano, Michael
Position Department / Business Unit
Assistant Professor Dept of Chemical and Molecular Engineering
Institution Disciplines
University of Illinois - Urbana Nanotubes Nanoparticles
City State / Provence
Urbana Illinois
Country Website
(217) 333-5052

The Strano laboratory is interested in understanding the chemical and physical interactions that govern our ability to manipulate nanotube and nanoparticle systems for desired applications. We utilize a variety of spectroscopic and surface techniques combined with chemical engineering analysis to address problems central to the advancement of nanotechnology.

Quantum nanowires and nanotubes are molecular systems where electron transport is confined to a single dimension. These molecules demonstrate a unique chemical behavior with respect to surface reactivity and surface adsorption processes that governs their ability to be manipulated and incorporated into devices. Current theory and experimental observations indicate that the reactive behavior of these systems is strongly dependent on local deformations, chemical doping, photo-excitation and the local microenvironment. We seek to understand these processes in order to develop chemical handles to manipulate these materials and synthesize the next generation of nanoelectronic, sensor, electro-mechanical devices.

Many nanoparticle systems demonstrate unique optical properties such as tunable photo-absorption (plasmon resonances) and n-IR fluorescence that are important for immerging biomedical and biochemical applications. In particular, fluorescence in the near-IR avoids the natural auto-fluorescence of many biological systems and allows for deeper penetration into strongly scattering or absorbing media, such as whole blood or thick tissue. We are interested in how nanoparticles can be made to interact with cellular interfaces, measuring mass transfer and partitioning coefficients in both proxy and living cell membranes. To this end, we apply thermodynamics and colloidal science to examine routes for nanotube covalent and non-covalent functionalization that allow for selective adsorption and transport within cellular membranes or attachment to particular biomolecular sites.

Carbon nanotubes have tensile strengths nearly 100 times that of steel cable but are 1/6th as dense. There is tremendous interest in developing the next generation of high performance composites using these materials, although nanotube dispersion, matrix interactions, and deformation properties remain critical problems. We are interested in understanding nanocomposites under systematic deformations, transient energy conduction, and photo-induced actuation. We use the electronic changes in the nanotube itself to provide valuable insight into the molecular behavior of these systems in response to external perturbations. These efforts are leading to new “smart material” applications that proactively respond to external perturbations as well as novel photo-actuating mechanical devices.


B.S., Polytechnic University; Brooklyn, NY, 1997; Ph.D., University of Delaware, Newark, DE 2002


2005 Presidential Early Career Award (PACE)
2006 Collaboration Success Award from the Council of Chemical Research
2006 Beckman Young Investigator Award
2006 3M Nontenured Faculty Award
2006 Coblentz Award for Molecular Spectroscopy
2005 Young Investigator Award, Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum, AIChE
Top 1% of Highly Cited Researchers, Essential Science Indicators/Web of Science 2005
2005 National Science Foundation Career Award
2004 Top Young Innovator Award, MIT Technology Review (TR100)
2004 Dupont Young Investigator Award
Editorial board: Experimental Biology and Medicine

Important Articles

D. A. Heller, E. S. Jeng, T.-K. Yeung, B. M. Martinez, A. E. Moll, J. B. Gastala, and M. S. Strano, "Optical Detection of DNA Conformational Polymorphism on Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes," Science 311, 508-511 (2006).

P. W. Barone, S. Baik, D. A. Heller, M. S. Strano, "Near-infrared optical sensors based on single-walled carbon nanotubes," Nature Materials 4, 86-92 (2005).

C. Y. Lee, M. S. Strano, "Understanding the dynamics of signal transduction for adsorption of gases and vapors on carbon nanotube sensors," Langmuir 21, 5192-96 (2005).

S. Reich, M. Dworzak, A. Hoffman, C. Thomsen, M.S. Strano, "Excited-state carrier lifetime in single-walled carbon nanotubes," Physics Review B 71 Article 033402 (2005).

R. A. Graff, J. P. Swanson, P. W. Barone, S. Baik, D. A. Heller, M. S. Strano, "Achieving individual-nanotube dispersion at high loading in single-walled carbon nanotube composites," Advanced Materials, 17, 980-84 (2005).

X. Z. Bo, C. Y. Lee, M. S. Strano, M. Goldfinger, C. Nuckolls, G. B. Blanchet, "Carbon nanotubes-semiconductor networks for organic electronics: The pick-up stick transistor," Applied Physics Letters, 86 Article 182102 (2005).

M.S. Strano, M. Zheng, A. Jagota, G.B. Onoa, D.A. Heller, P.W. Barone, M.L. Usrey, "Understanding the nature of the DNA-assisted separation of single-walled carbon nanotubes using fluorescence and Raman spectroscopy," Nano Letters, 4 543-50 (2004).

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