"Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought."
Albert Szent-Györgi
Laurence Marks

Professor Laurence Marks


Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Northwestern University
Evanston IL 60208, USA
Phone: (847) 491 3996
Email: L-marks at northwestern dot edu

Google Scholar Profile
Research Topics over the years
CV, moderately up to date

Research Interests

My current research interests cover a wide range of topics, some of which are relatively basic, such as Direct Methods, Surface Structures, and Density Functional Theory, while other, such as Hip Replacements, Environmental Catalysis, and Tribology, have a stronger eye on applications; see the links below the Research tab above for more details. Much of the fundamental work involves combining cutting-edge variants of electron microscopy in a unique combination of an electron microscope and surface science system so we can combine more standard surface science probes, such as XPS or Auger, and chambers where samples are grown, all within one unique UHV system. Current projects include:

Oxide Surfaces

At the current moment it is very hard to predict the structure of oxide surfaces; this is an important problem because these are very important in a large number of different areas, ranging from catalysis through new types of oxide devices to corrosion. We are exploiting both our direct methods approach as well as careful electron microscopy to understand the atomic scale structures.

  1. Surface determination through atomically resolved secondary-electron imaging
    J. Ciston, H.G. Brown, A.J. D'Alfonso, P. Koirala, C. Ophus, Y. Lin, Y. Suzuki, H. Inada, Y. Zhu, L.J. Allen and L.D. Marks
    Nat Commun, 2015. 6: p. 7358.

  2. Transition From Order To Configurational Disorder For Surface Reconstructions On Strontium Titanate (111)
    L.D. Marks, A.N. Chiaramonti, S.U. Rahman and M.R. Castell
    Physical Review Letters, 2015. 114(22): p. 226101.

  3. Defects on Strontium Titanate, in Defects at Oxide Surfaces,
    M.J. Marshall, A. Becerra-Toledo, L. Marks and M. Castell
    J. Jupille and G. Thornton, Editors. 2015, Springer International Publishing. p. 327-349.

  4. A chemical approach to understanding oxide surfaces
    J. A. Enterkin, A. E. Becerra-Toledo, K. R. Poeppelmeier, and L. D. Marks
    Surface Science 606 (2012) 344


Friction is a pervasive problem, by some estimates consuming about 5% of the GDP of the economies of the developed world, and a recent analysis has indicated that about one third of the fuel energy in automobiles goes to overcoming frictional losses. While the importance of minimizing friction can be traced back at least as far as the tomb of Tehuti-Hetep, circa 1880 B.C, where a man can be seen pouring a lubricant to assist in moving a statue, there are still many unknowns in the field of tribology that encompasses friction as well as other critical processes, such as wear and lubrication. My interests lie in understanding the materials science of sliding at the nanoscale using both in-situ experimentation as well as theory.

  1. Nanoscale Abrasive Wear of CoCrMo in In Situ TEM Sliding
    Liao, Y., E. Hoffman, and L.D. Marks
    Tribology Letters, 2015. 57(3)

  2. Graphitic Tribological Layers in Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacements (Supporting Info)
    Y. Liao, R. Pourzal, M. A. Wimmer, J. J. Jacobs, A. Fischer and L. D. Marks
    Science 334 (2011) 1687

  3. Quantification of sliding-induced phase transformation in N3FC diamond-like carbon films
    A. M'ndange-Pfupfu, O. Eryilmaz, A. Erdemir, and L.D. Marks
    Diamond and Related Materials 20 (2011) 1143

  4. A Dislocation-Based Analytical Model for the Nanoscale Processes of Shear and Plowing Friction
    A. M'ndange-Pfupfu and L.D. Marks
    Tribology Letters 39(2010) 163.

Nanoparticles: Plasmonics, Catalysis, and Fundamentals

My group has an active program in nanoparticles, ranging from their use in plasmonics and as catalysts to the fundamentals of their growth, thermodynamics and kinetics.

  1. Identification of active sites in CO oxidation and water-gas shift over supported Pt catalysts
    K. Ding, A. Gulec, A.M. Johnson, N.M. Schweitzer, G.D. Stucky, L.D. Marks and P.C. Stair
    Science, 2015.

  2. Segregation in bimetallic nanoparticles
    L. Peng, E. Ringe, R.P. Van Duyne and L.D. Marks
    Phys Chem Chem Phys, 2015. DOI: 10.1039/c5cp01492a

  3. Kinetic and Thermodynamic Modified Wulff Constructions for Twinned Nanoparticles
    Emilie Ringe, Richard P. Van Duyne, and Laurence D. Marks
    Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 117 (2013) 15859

  4. Nucleation and Growth of Silver Nanoparticles by AB and ABC-Type Atomic Layer Deposition
    Masango, S.S., L. Peng, L.D. Marks, R.P. Van Duyne, and P.C. Stair
    The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2014

  5. Plasmon Length: A Universal Parameter to Describe Size Effects in Gold Nanoparticles
    E. Ringe, M.R. Langille, K. Sohn, J. Zhang, J.X. Huang, C.A. Mirkin, R.P. Van Duyne and L.D. Marks
    Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 2012. 3(11): p. 1479-1483.

  6. Oriented Catalytic Platinum Nanoparticles on High Surface
    Area Strontium Titanate Nanocubes
    J. Enterkin, K. R. Poeppelmeier and L. D. Marks
    Nano Letters 11 (2011) 993

  7. Correlated Structure and Optical Property Studies of Plasmonic Nanoparticles
    A. I. Henry, J. M. Bingham, E. Ringe, L. D. Marks, G. C. Schatz and R. P. Van Duyne
    Journal of Physical Chemistry C 115 (2011) 9291

Density Functional Theory

My group extensively uses Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations to understand surface structures. In addition, I have an interest in the development of algorithms and methodologies to calculate properties faster and more accurately, and do much of the algorithm development and coding myself in my "spare time".

  1. Fixed-Point Optimization of Atoms and Density in DFT
    L. D. Marks
    Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 9 (2013) 2786.

  2. Robust mixing for ab initio quantum mechanical calculations
    L.D. Marks and D.R. Luke, Physical Review B 78(7): p. 075114-12, 2008
    (A gentler preprint)

  3. Force calculation for orbital-dependent potentials with FP-(L)APW + lo basis sets
    F. Tran, J. Kunes, P. Novak, P. Blaha, L.D. Marks, and K. Schwarz
    Computer Physics Communications 179: p. 784-790, 2008

Hip Replacements

Prosthetic implantation is one of the most successful treatments for patients with severe arthritis or rheumatism; it is the difference between a wheelchair and a normal life. As of 2003, more than 200,000 total hip replacement operations were performed annually in the US, and this number is expected to reach 572,000 by 2030. The bearing surfaces of current artificial hip replacements on the market are usually made out of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), cobalt-chromium-molybdenum (CoCrMo) alloys, ceramics (alumina) or ceramicized metals (e.g. oxygen diffusion-hardened ZrNb alloy). Unfortunately these materials are not perfect, and there are numerous problems. We are investigating the fundamentals of the metallurgy, tribology, corrosion as well as exploring some of the biological issues, in collaboration with scientists and physicians at Rush Orthopedics and elsewhere.

  1. The effect of contact load on CoCrMo wear and the formation and retention of tribofilms
    M.A. Wimmer, M.P. Laurent, M.T. Mathew, C. Nagelli, Y. Liao, L.D. Marks, J.J. Jacobs and A. Fischer
    Wear, 2015. 332–333(0): p. 643-649

  2. Intergranular pitting corrosion of CoCrMo biomedical implant alloy
    Panigrahi, P., Y. Liao, M. Mathew, M.A. Wimmer, J.J. Jacobs, and L.D. Marks
    Journal of Biomedical Research, 2013, 102B, 850-859

  3. CoCrMo metal-on-metal hip replacements.
    Y. Liao, E. Hoffman, M.A. Wimmer, A. Fischer, J.J. Jacobs, and L.D. Marks
    Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics. , 15 (2013) 746.

  4. Graphitic Tribological Layers in Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacements (Supporting Info)
    Y. Liao, R. Pourzal, M. A. Wimmer, J. J. Jacobs, A. Fischer and L. D. Marks
    Science 334 (2011) 1687