Carnegie Mellon University

Department of Physics

Mellon College of Science

Stephen Garoff

Professor of Physics and Department Head
Professor of Chemical Engineering (Courtesy) and Professor of Materials Science & Engineering (Courtesy)

Soft Condensed Matter / Biological Physics Experiment
Wean Hall 7325

assistant (interim): Amanda Bodnar, 412-268-6681

lab website 

Prof. Steve Garoff

Education & Professional Experience

PhD: Harvard University, Applied Physics (1977)
M.S.: Harvard University, Applied Physics (1974)
B.S.: Yale University (1972)

Professional Societies:
American Physical Society, American Chemical Society, Materials Research Society
Fellow, American Physical Society


Curriculum ViTA

Head, Physics Department, Carnegie Mellon University, 2013–
Professor of Physics, Carnegie Mellon University, 1988–
Professor of Chemical Engineering (Courtesy), Carnegie Mellon University, 1988–
Professor of Materials Science & Engineering (Courtesy), Carnegie Mellon University, 1988–
Research Scientist: Schlumberger-Doll Research, Ridgefield, CT, 1986–88
Research Scientist: Exxon Research, Annandale, NJ, 1977–86

Research Interests

The properties of interfacial regions where fluid or solid phases meet dominate the behavior of many natural and technical processes. Wetting, friction and adhesion, corrosion, stability of emulsions (droplets of liquids in another liquid) or colloidal suspensions (solid particles suspended in a liquid) are some examples. But attaining a fundamental understanding of their behavior challenges our experimental abilities because these interfacial regions are structurally complex on a molecular scale, are seldom homogeneous on a microscopic scale, and may not even be in equilibrium. Often monomolecular layers along the interfaces dominate the behavior of the interface and the macroscopic phenomenon. In the Interfacial Physics Group we attempt to build an understanding of interfacial phenomena on the molecular, microscopic, and macroscopic levels. In our research, we probe many different liquid systems, including aqueous and non-aqueous fluids and solutions, surfactants and polymers, and even metals interacting with a variety of solids, including glasses, oxides and metals. We employ a range of techniques including x-ray, neutron, and optical techniques, atomic force microscopy, rheology, as well as UHV and non-UHV materials preparation. Presently, we focus on wetting, friction, and colloidal forces.  Our program draws on a broad range of scientific phenomena such as random field effects, nonequilibrium states, hydrodynamics, and noise in hysteretic systems. The results of our research reveal the scientific underpinnings of such technologies as coatings, adhesion, colloidal stability, and multiphase fluid flow.

We maintain extensive collaborations with groups in the Material Science, Chemical Engineering an Biomedical Engineering Departments at Carnegie Mellon as well as in the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.  We participate in the programs of the Center for Complex Fluids Engineering. We also work on applications of our research through projects funded by industry. For more details on our group, see Interfacial Physics Group.

Selected Publications

G. Dunéra, M. Kim, R. D. Tilton, S. Garoff, T. M. Przybycien, Effect of polyelectrolyte–surfactant complexation on Marangoni transport at a liquid–liquid interface, J. Colloid Interf. Sci. 467, 105 (2016)

Y. Zhang, S. D. Oberdick, E. R. Swanson, S. L. Anna, S. Garoff, Gravity driven current during the coalescence of two sessile dropsPhys. Fluids 27, 22101 (2015) 

R. Sharma, A. Khanal, T. E. Corcoran, S. Garoff, T. M. Przybycien, R. D. Tilton, Surfactant driven post-deposition spreading of aerosols on complex aqueous subphases. 2: Low deposition flux representative of aerosol delivery to small airwaysJ. Aerosol Med. Pulmonary Drug Deliv. 28, 394 (2015) 

R. Sharma, T. E. Corcoran, S. Garoff, T. M. Przybycien, E. R. Swanson, R. D. Tilton, Quasi-immiscible spreading of aqueous surfactant solutions on entangled aqueous polymer solution subphasesACS Appl. Mat.. Interf. 5, 5542 (2013) 

R. Sharma, R. Kalita, E. R. Swanson, T. E. Corcoran, S. Garoff, T. M. Przybycien, R. D. Tilton, Autophobing on liquid subphases driven by the interfacial transport of amphiphilic moleculesLangmuir 28, 15212 (2012)

R. T. Cerbus, S. Garoff, W. I. Goldburg, E. R. Peterson, Local heating at convection fronts and moving contact lines on hygroscopic fluidsColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochem. Eng. Aspects 393, 42 (2012)

K. Koch, B. Dew, T. E. Corcoran, T. M. Przybycien, R. D. Tilton, S. Garoff, Surface tension gradient driven spreading on aqueous mucin solutions: A possible route to enhanced pulmonary drug deliveryMol. Pharmaceutics 8, 387 (2011)

S. Ojha, B. Beppler, H. Dong, K. Matyjaszewski, S. Garoff, M. R. Bockstaller, Impact of polymer graft characteristics and evaporation rate on the formation of 2-D nanoparticle assembliesLangmuir 26, 13210 (2010)

Y. Wei, E. Rame, L. M. Walker, S. Garoff, Dynamic wetting with viscous Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluidsJ. Phys.s: Cond. Mat. 21, 464126 (2009)

A. L. Marcinkowski, S. Garoff, R. D. Tilton, J. M. Pilewski, T. E. Corcoran, Postdeposition dispersion of aerosol medications using surfactant carriersJ. Aerosol Med. Pulmonary Drug Deliv. 21, 361 (2008)

B. K. Beppler, K. S. Varanasi, S. Garoff, G. Evmenenko, K. Woods, Influence of fluid flow on the deposition of soluble surfactants through receding contact lines of volatile solventsLangmuir 24, 6705 (2008)

P. Wynblatt, D. Chatain, A. Ranguis, J. P. Monchoux, J. Moon, S. Garoff, Factors affecting the coverage dependence of the diffusivity of one metal over the surface of anotherInt. J. Thermophys. 28, 646 (2007)

J. Kim, S. Garoff, J. L. Anderson, L. J. M. Schlangen, Movement of colloidal particles in two-dimensional electric fieldsLangmuir 21, 10941 (2005)

H. Burnett, T. Shedd, G. Nellis, M. El-Morsi, R. Engelstad, S. Garoff, K. Varanasi, Control of the receding meniscus in immersion lithographyJ. Vacuum Sci. Techn. B: Microelectr. Nanometer Struct. 23, 2611 (2005)

R. T. Schumacher, S. Garoff, J. Woodhouse, Probing the physics of slip–stick friction using a bowed stringJ. Adhesion 81, 723 (2005)

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ORCID  Researcher ID