Core Faculty

Laurence Marks

Laurence Marks

Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

2220 Campus Drive

Cook Hall 2036

Evanston, IL 60208

l-marks( at )


Ph.D. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England

Research student, Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, England

B.A. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England

Research Interests

Materials at the Nanoscale

We need to develop the paradigms for materials when the carbon cost becomes a critical issue. Much of the research we do focuses on some of the fundamental scientific questions central to many energy related problems, for instance:

  • How do we engineer a concrete/cement that requires less energy to produce?
  • How do we reduce frictional losses which are estimated to cost about 5% of the GDP of most countries?
  • How do we improve on catalysts, for instance increasing the selectivity of partial oxidation reactions?
  • Can we improve on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells so we can produce electricity directly from hydrocarbons with high efficiency
  • How do we understand oxide surfaces, and as we do how do we engineer desirable surface structures?

 Visit The Marks Research Group website for more details.

Current projects include
  • Catalysis: The work we do combines a wide range of different techniques from growth of single crystals through solving the surface structures, examining how the materials behave as catalysis in practice to theoretical modelling of the surfaces. Our aim is to bridge what is called the "Materials Gap", connecting what is taking place on large, single crystal surfaces under controlled conditions with controlled nanoparticles of oxides used as catalysts.
  • Solid Oxide Fuel Cells: The basic premise of this project is that the significantly enhanced electronic and ionic transport properties of nano-scale oxides, combined with the high surface area of nano-porous materials, offer an opportunity to address electrode polarization and conductivity issues limiting low-temperature SOFC performance.
  • Density Functional Modelling: A critical component for understanding the properties of materials, and enabling the development of new materials is the ability to characterize them in detail as well as understand why they form. While this may appear to be a combination of two disparate concepts, in many respects they are not and should be considered as synergistic. Approached from the characterization side, better tools allow one to answer more fundamental scientific questions about why a particular structure is formed. Approached from the other side, the underlying scientific questions can drive what types of characterization is needed. Frequently the underlying science can be best revealed by theoretical calculations, particularly density functional calculations which despite some limitations can probe many important questions.
  • Nanotribology: The importance of controlling friction and wear through structure, materials selection and lubrication was realized since the time of the construction of the pyramids. It was first formulated and documented scientifically by Leonardo Da Vinci 200 years before Newton defined the laws of force and mechanics, making tribology one of the oldest fields of scientific study. Despite this, only a fragmented understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of friction exists.
  • Nanoplasmonics: Nanoplasmonics is the study of localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR), i.e. collective electron oscillations, in nanoparticles. By using correlated single particle spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy, it is possible to study the effect of shape and size on plasmonic properties without having to use ensemble averaged data.

Significant Recognition

  • Sloan Foundation Fellowship, 1987
  • Burton Medal from the Electron Microscopy Society of America for achievements in electron microscopy by a young researcher, 1989
  • Fellow, American Physical Society, 2002

Selected Publications

    1.            Modified Kinetic Wulff shapes for Twinned Nanoparticles. Ringe, E., R.P. Van Duyne, and L.D. Marks, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 2013. 117, 15859–15870.

    2.            Single nanoparticle plasmonics. Ringe, E., B. Sharma, A.I. Henry, L.D. Marks, and R.P. Van Duyne, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2013. 15(12), 4110-4129.

    3.            Thermodynamic Analysis of Multiply Twinned Particles: Surface Stress Effects. Patala, S., L.D. Marks, and M. Olvera de la Cruz, The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 2013. 4, 3089-3094.

    4.            Structure refinement from precession electron diffraction data. Palatinus, L., D. Jacob, P. Cuvillier, M. Klementova, W. Sinkler, and L.D. Marks, Acta Crystallographica Section A, 2013. 69(2), 171-188.

    5.            Direct Observation of Tribochemically Assisted Wear on Diamond-Like Carbon Thin Films. M'Ndange-Pfupfu, A., J. Ciston, O. Eryilmaz, A. Erdemir, and L.D. Marks, Tribology Letters, 2013. 49(2), 351-356.

    6.            What Are the Resolution Limits in Electron Microscopes? Marks, L.D., Physics, 2013. 6, 82-82.

    7.            Fixed-Point Optimization of Atoms and Density in DFT. Marks, L.D., Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 2013. 9, 2786–2800.

    8.            Synthesis-dependent atomic surfaces structures on oxide nanoparticles. Lin, Y., J. Wen, L. Hu, R.M. Kennedy, P.C. Stair, K.R. Poeppelmeier, and L.D. Marks, Physical Review letters, 2013. 111, 156101.

    9.            Epitaxial Stabilization of Face Selective Catalysts. Enterkin, J., R. Kennedy, J. Lu, J. Elam, R. Cook, L. Marks, P. Stair, C. Marshall, and K. Poeppelmeier, Topics in Catalysis, 2013, 1-6.

    10.          Three-dimensional imaging of dislocations in a nanoparticle at atomic resolution. Chen, C.-C., C. Zhu, E.R. White, C.-Y. Chiu, M.C. Scott, B.C. Regan, L.D. Marks, Y. Huang, and J. Miao, Nature, 2013. 496(7443), 74-77.

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