Robert Macfarlane

AMAX Career Development Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering
B. A. in Biochemistry, Willamette University 2004
M. Sc. in Chemistry, Yale University, 2006
Ph. D. in Chemistry, Northwestern University, 2013


(617) 715-2828


  • Biomaterials
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Mechanical Behavior of Materials
  • Nanotechnology
  • Photonic Materials
  • Polymers
  • Self Assembly
  • Composites


Both inorganic nanoparticles and organic polymers offer unique advantages in the synthesis of materials with controllable properties (optical, magnetic, electrical) and chemical reactivities: polymers are highly modular structures that can incorporate many different chemical functional groups, and inorganic nanoparticles have size, shape, and material composition dependent properties such as surface plasmon resonances. Composites of these materials could result in powerful synthesis schemes for fabricating materials with controllable emergent properties, but a fundamental challenge in this area of research is developing self-assembly approaches to create polymer and nanoparticle composite materials where nanoscale order can be generated in a predictable and controllable manner. Research in the Macfarlane lab is focused on developing a set of design principles for synthesizing new inorganic/organic composite materials, where nanoscale structure can be manipulated to tune the emergent physical properties of a bulk material. These structures have the potential to significantly impact energy-related research via light manipulation (e.g. photonic band gaps or plasmonic metamaterials), electronic device fabrication (e.g. semiconducting substrates or data storage devices), and environmental and medical research (e.g. hydrogels for sustained drug delivery).

Course III faculty were involved with the Manhattan Project.