Awardee Interviews | Biography: Mark Hersam

Mark Hersam

Mark Hersam, Northwestern University, “For pioneering contributions to the synthesis, surface science, chemical functionalization, and application of low-dimensional nanoelectronic materials
Prof. Mark C. Hersam is the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Director of the Materials Research Center at Northwestern University. He also holds faculty appointments in the Departments of Chemistry, Applied Physics, Medicine, and Electrical Engineering. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 1996, M.Phil. in Physics from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 1997, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from UIUC in 2000. His research interests include nanomaterials, nanomanufacturing, scanning probe microscopy, nanoelectronic devices, and renewable energy.   
Dr. Hersam began his independent career as an Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University immediately following his PhD. As an Assistant Professor, Dr. Hersam explored the electronic properties of individual molecules on silicon surfaces using ultrahigh vacuum scanning tunneling microscopy. This early work garnered several early career awards (e.g., Beckman Young Investigator Award, NSF CAREER Award, ARO Young Investigator Award, ONR Young Investigator Award, Sloan Research Fellowship, Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, MRS Outstanding Young Investigator Award, and AVS Peter Mark Award) and resulted in Dr. Hersam being promoted directly from Assistant Professor to Full Professor in 2006.

Following his double promotion, Dr. Hersam ventured into the field of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs). In addition to elucidating fundamental phenomena in SWCNTs, he developed a scalable strategy for sorting SWCNTs by their physical and electronic structure using density gradient ultracentrifugation (DGU). Dr. Hersam subsequently generalized DGU to a wide range of solution-processed nanomaterials including graphene, metal nanoparticles, transition metal dichalcogenides, boron nitride, and black phosphorus. Recent research highlights include the synthesis and atomic characterization of borophene, covalent passivation of black phosphorus, mixed-dimensional van der Waals heterostructures, and multi-terminal neuromorphic memtransistors.

Beyond research, Dr. Hersam is a dedicated educator as evidenced by 8 Teacher of the Year Awards. Dr. Hersam also served as Chair of the AVS Nanoscale Science and Technology Division, and has been an Associate Editor of ACS Nano for the past decade. From the perspective of science policy, Dr. Hersam was co-chair of the NSF International Study of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and served as a U.S. Science Envoy for the U.S. State Department, where he helped inform the White House about opportunities for international scientific cooperation. An elected member of the National Academy of Inventors, Dr. Hersam has also founded two companies, NanoIntegris and Volexion, which are commercial suppliers of nanoelectronic and battery materials, respectively.

Dr. Hersam has received several recent recognitions including a Keck Foundation Science and Engineering Research Grant, NSF Creativity Award, ACS Arthur K. Doolittle Award, Advanced Materials Hall of Fame, and MacArthur Fellowship. He has also been named a Fellow of several professional societies including SPIE, MRS, APS, AAAS, IEEE, and AVS.  Overall, Dr. Hersam has given ~500 invited conference presentations and colloquia, is a named inventor on ~100 issued and pending patents, and published ~500 journal articles that have been cited over 40,000 times with an h-index of 98.