Materials and Interfaces


David Cahen, Head
The Rowland and Sylvia Schaefer Professorial Chair in Energy Research

Activities in the Department span a wide range of topics from soft, composite and hard materials to energy research, nanoscience, and biological systems. A UNIFYING THEME is the STUDY OF MATERIAL FUNCTIONALITY AND ITS RELATION TO FUNDAMENTAL PROPERTIES AT MULTIPLE SCALES. These properties may be mechanical, structural, electronic, magnetic and chemical. Some examples are: How do shapes and sizes of nm-sized particles affect their spectral properties? How can we tune the properties of solar cells by manipulating their material interfaces? How does friction in knee and hip joints depend on polyelectrolytes that lubricate them? How can we design self-assembling, even self-replicating (bio)chemical systems? THE RESEARCH IS BASED ON AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH, and in-deed the scientists bring complementary experience in chemistry, physics, and biophys-ics, including theory and experiment.

Among the materials under active study we can note:

Experimental and theoretical approaches include:

Many facilities that we use are part of the Chemical Research Support Unit. They include the Electron Microscopy Unit, Surface Science (Scanning Probe Microscopies and Pho-toelectron Spectroscopy) unit, X-ray diffraction and scattering unit, combined clean rooms / micro-fabrication / biological specimen manipulation ("nano-bio") laboratories. Further facilities in the department or Chemical Support Services include systems for low temperature electrical transport and for optical and magnetic characterization of materi-als. In addition to new insights in how materials properties can be understood from their atomic, molecular, macro-/supra-molecular and over-all composition and structure, our inter- and multi-disciplinary strategy to the study of the functionality of materials and its relation to fundamental properties of matter at multiple scales, permits exploring new materials and combinations. It has also led to a number of practical applications.

Recent accomplishments include:

Bar-Ziv Roy - Genetic circuit elements were constructed in vitro by engineering tran-scriptional activation and repression cascades, in which the protein product of each stage is the input required to drive or block the following stage.

Cahen David – Several proteins transport electronic charge as molecular wires, rather than as insulators (with Sheves, Pecht). New basic limits to photovoltaic conversion for 3d generation cells are defined. Inversion is a central issue for several solar cells.

Elbaum Michael - Studies focus on thermodynamics of molecular exchange at the cell nucleus, on biomaterials involved in gene transfer between living organisms, and on soft X-ray microscopy.

Hodes Gary – Solution deposition of oxides and semiconductors is strongly affected by the glass vessel in which deposition occurred. A surface treatment of ZnO nanorod films greatly improves semiconductor coverage in ETA solar cells, resulting in improved cells.

Joselevich Ernesto - Carbon nanotubes, grown on crystal surfaces, organize into well-defined geometries, serpentines, coils, and more. Twisting carbon and inorganic nano-tubes yields torsion-induced conductance oscillations and torsional stick-slip behavior.

Klein Jacob – Our studies of interfacial forces were recently extended to liposomes, and discovered to reduce friction between sliding surfaces to the uniquely low levels found at mammalian joints, with implications for both tissue engineering and prosthetic implants.

Kronik Leeor - Major advances in quantitative first principle calculations of molecular assemblies that were made include, among others, accounting for dispersive interactions and describing charge transfer excitations.

Lubomirsky Igor - Electromechanically active materials based on ionic conductors were developed. The nature of surface charges that develops on dielectric surfaces upon rub-bing was studied. The technology for electrochemical energy storage was improved.

Rubinstein Israel - Discontinuous, island-type gold films on transparent substrates exhib-iting morphology-dependent optical properties were studied and used as transducers for chemical and biological sensing.

Safran Sam - Self-assembly of inhomogeneous and charged membranes with application to rafts in biological cells, as well as elastic interactions and orientations of cells in gels and applications to biomaterials were studied.

Sagiv Jacob - Rapid multiple replication of hydrophilic-hydrophobic organic monolayer patterns via a novel "contact electrochemical" process based on wetting discrimination was proposed and demonstrated.

Tenne Reshef - The first core-shell nanotubes of layered compounds were synthesized. With aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy (0.7 A resolution), the de-tails of the growth mechanism of WS2 nanotubes were elucidated.

Wagner Daniel H - Nano-compression of pillar-like specimens of dentine, a micro-nano hierarchical composite; fracture toughness of C-nanotube-reinforced polymers; compos-ite mechanics studies of anisotropic size and shape change of live cell focal adhesion on fibronectin-coated surfaces.

Lahav Meir - Spontaneous enantio-selective polymerization of racemic amino acids into homochiral peptides in water, thin films and crystals was accomplished; its relevance to the origin of bio-chirogenesis was hypothesized.

Leiserowitz Les –Pathological crystallization in malaria and atherosclerosis; - hemozoin crystal nucleation in Plasmodium Falciparum-infected red blood cells; - crystalline cho-lesterol bilayer assembly in mixtures with phospholipids and phingomyelin in hydrated synthetic membranes. 

Research Staff, Visitors and Students


David Cahen, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, United States
       The Rowland and Sylvia Schaefer Professorial Chair in Energy Research
Gary Hodes, Ph.D., Queen's University of Belfast
Jacob Klein, Ph.D., University of Cambridg, Cambridge, United Kingdom
       The Hermann Mark Professorial Chair of Polymer Physics
Israel Rubinstein, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Samuel Safran, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, United States
       The Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Professorial Chair
Jacob Sagiv, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Reshef Tenne, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
       The Drake Family Professorial Chair of Nanotechnology
Daniel Hanoch Wagner, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
       The Livio Norzi Professorial Chair

Professors Emeriti

Zeev Alexandrowicz, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Joseph Jagur-Grodzinski, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Meir Lahav, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Leslie Leiserowitz, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Moshe Levy, Ph.D., State University of New York, Syracuse, United States
Joost Manassen, Ph.D., University of Amsterdam

Associate Professors

Roy Bar-Ziv, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Michael Elbaum, Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle, United States
Ernesto Joselevich, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Leeor Kronik, Ph.D., Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Igor Lubomirsky, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Senior Staff Scientists

Rivka Maoz, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Alexander Vaskevich, Ph.D., Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, Moscow, Russian Federation

Associate Staff Scientist

Rita Rosentsveig, Ph.D., Leningrad Technological Institute, Russian Federation

Assistant Staff Scientists

Nir Kampf, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Alla Milner, Ph.D., National Polytechnical University, Kharkov, Ukraine (left September 2010)
Ayelet Vilan, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Special Contract

Ilya Zon, Ph.D., Academy of Science USSR, Moscow, Russian Federation

Senior Intern

Doron Burshtain, Ph.D., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel


Tsevi Beatus, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel (left April 2010)
Lior Nissim, Ph.D., Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel


Baruch Ittah, M.Sc., Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel (left May 2010)


Maya Bar Sadan, Julich Research Center, Julich, Germany
Itai Carmeli
Yael Isabelle Dror
Haim Grunbaum, Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Joseph Jagur-Grodzinski
Valery Kaplan
Alon Katz
Haim Leader
Alexander Margolin, NanoMaterials Ltd., Rehovot, Israel (left March 2010)
Moshe Levy
Joost Manassen
Noa Marom, University of texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA
Doron Naveh, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA (left November 2010)
Leonid Odnopozov, IF, Consult, Rishon LeZion, Israel (left March 2010)
Zeev Porat, Nuclear Research Center, Negev, Israel
Lev Rapoport, Holon Institute of Technology, Honon, Israel
Dmitry Shumalinsky, Barzili Medical Center, Ashkelon, Israel
Ellen Wachtel
Isabelle Weissbuch
Ana Yaron Albu
Ella Zak, Nanomaterials Ltd, Rehovot, Israel
Daniel Ziskind, Private Clinic, Jerusalem

Visiting Scientists

Stefano Curtarolo, Duke University , NC, U.S.A.
Andrey Enyashin
David Ginley, NREL, Golden Co., U.S.A.
Sung You Hong, Max Planck Inst., Berlin, Germany
Antoine Kahn, Princeton University , NJ, U.S.A.
Richard Kaner, UCLA, CA, U.S.A.
Celia Mercader
Lev Rapoport, Holon Inst. of Technology, Israel
Meir Redlich, Hadassah Hebrew University Med. Ctr., Jerusalem, Israel
Deepak Sinha, Ecole Normale Superieure de Paris, France
Wentao Sun, University of Peking
Ashok Vaseashta, Nuari, Institute of advanced Sciences Convergence, U.S.A.
Jatinder Vir Yakhmi, Bhabha Atom. Rese. Ctr., Bombay, India

Postdoctoral Fellows

Benny Bar On, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Aviad Baram, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Inna Barsky, Ben-Gurion University, Israel
Tsevi Beatus, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Giuliano Bellapadrona, "Sapienza" University Of Rome
Yoav Biton, Ph.D., Rutgers, The State University of Nj
Doron Burshtain, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Yael Dror, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Benjamin Markus Friedrich, Tu Dresden, Germany
Ludmila Frolov, Tel-Aviv University, Israel
Ronit Goldberg, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Roni Antoine Illos, Ben-Gurion University, Israel
Jing Ji, University Of Science And Technology of China
Sanghyun Kim, Kaist
Saar Kirmayer, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Noa Lachman, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Wenjie Li, Simon Fraser University
Robert Lovrincic, Heidelberg University
Liran Ma, Tsinghua Univerisyt
Adi Makmal, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Amir Natan, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Pabitra Kumar Nayak, Tata Insitute of Fundamental Research
Lior Nissim, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Tutiki Umasankar Patro, Ph.D., Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
Silvia Piperno, University of L'Aquila
Dikla Raz-Ben Aroush, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Mark Schvartzman, Columbia University
Lior Segev, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Victor Shelukhin, Tel-Aviv University, Israel
Gabriel Shemer, Ph.D., Tel-Aviv University, Israel
Yair Shokef, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
Xiaomeng Sui, Ph.D., Chinese Academy of Science
Einat Tirosh, Tel-Aviv University, Israel
Tetsuya Yamamoto, Tokyo Institute of Technology
Asaf Zeira, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Research Students

Yahel Atsmon Aviad Baram
Lee Barnea-Nehoshtan Alik Belitzky
Jonathan Berson Ariel Biller
Dan Bracha Yulia Chaikin
Eran Edri Anna Faingold
Anastasia Gaisinskaya Jonathan Garel
Ronit Goldberg Irit Goldian
Rotem Har-Lavan Yafit Itzhaik
Sergey Kapishnikov Tanya Karakouz
Eyal Karzbrun Ofer Kedem
Michael Kokotov Roman Korobko
Anna Kossoy Eli Kraisler
Ronen Kreizman Noa Lachman
Roi Levi Adi Makmal
Gabriel Man Noa Marom
Amir Natan Elena Rabinovich
Gal Radovsky Izhar Ron
Lior Segev Lior Sepunaru
Jasmine Seror Nitzan Shadmi
Hagay Shpaisman Gilad Silbert
Ofer Sinai Raya Sorkin
Sarah Sultan Odeya Tairy
Alexander Tesler Ofer Tevet
Tal Toledano Allon Weiner
Inna Wiesel Noga Yaakov
Omer Yaffe Assaf Zeira


Adi Ein Gal Bar Nahum