Robert J. Macfarlane

Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Primary Impact, Materials, Research Type

Contact Info

Office Phone: 617-715-2828
Office: 13-5056
Website/Lab: The Macfarlane Lab


Assistant Name: Kathy Simons
Assistant Email:
Assistant Phone: 617-452-3499


Professor Robert Macfarlane builds new materials using concepts and building blocks from supramolecular chemistry, polymer science, nanotechnology, self-assembly, colloids, and processing science. Researchers in the Macfarlane Lab have developed design principles for synthesizing hierarchically organized materials with simulteanous and programmed control of material structural features across the molecular, nano, micro, and macroscopic length scales. These new nanocomposites enable fundamental insight into mechanical, optical, chemical, electrical, and thermal structure-property relationships and provide entirely new sets of materials for applications in adhesives, coatings, sensors, electronic and optical devices, and energy storage. 


Professor Macfarlane earned a BA in biochemistry at Willamette University in 2004 and an MS in chemistry at Yale University in 2006. In 2013, he earned a PhD in chemistry at Northwestern University, where he developed design rules for the DNA-programmed assembly of nanoparticle superlattices. After finishing his doctorate in 2013, he was awarded the Kavli Nanoscience Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. There he developed self-assembly and processing methods to synthesize bottlebrush polymer photonic crystals. In 2015, he joined DMSE, where he has merged the assembly techniques he developed to establish novel synthesis, assembly, and processing routes for scalable, compositionally versatile, and hierarchically organized nanocomposites.

Awards & Honors

Non-Tenured Faculty Award , 3M
Unilever Award for Outstanding Young Investigator in Colloid and Surfactant Science
Faculty Early Career Development Award, National Science Foundation
Young Investigator Award, Air Force Office of Scientific Research
Outstanding Researcher Award, International Institute for Nanotechnology