Subra Suresh

  • Vannevar Bush Professor Emeritus of Engineering
  • Bachelor of Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, 1977
  • MS, Iowa State University, 1979
  • ScD, MIT, 1981
Subra Suresh


Prof. Suresh's research is in the following areas:

  • Nanomechanics of biological cells and molecules, and human disease states
  • Structure-Mechanical Property-Disease connections in the context of P. falciparum malaria, hereditary blood cell disorders and cancer
  • Computational simulations of cellular and molecular deformation and shape thermodynamics
  • High force optical tweezers studies of biological cells and human disease states
  • Nanostructured materials
  • Nanoindentation and microindentation


Recent News

How to bend and stretch a diamond

Diamond is well-known as the strongest of all natural materials, and with that strength comes another tightly linked property: brittleness. But now, an international team of researchers from MIT, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea has found that when grown in extremely tiny, needle-like shapes,…   more

New property found in unusual crystalline materials

Most metals and semiconductors, from the steel in a knife blade to the silicon in a solar panel, are made up of many tiny crystalline grains. The way these grains meet at their edges can have a major impact on the solid’s properties, including mechanical strength, electrical conductivity,…   more

Blood testing via sound waves may replace some tissue biopsies

Cells secrete nanoscale packets called exosomes that carry important messages from one part of the body to another. Scientists from MIT and other institutions have now devised a way to intercept these messages, which could be used to diagnose problems such as cancer or fetal abnormalities.…   more

NEW.Mech 2017

NEW.Mech is a one-day workshop that aims to bring together the New England Mechanics community with an interest in exploring new directions in the mechanics of materials and structures, and to provide an opportunity to share the latest…   more

How the spleen filters blood

Subra Suresh and Ming Dao have discovered that the shape and size of blood cells is determined by a tiny opening in the spleen called the interendothelial slit, where the cells undergo a sort of "physical fitness test" before they're able to continue circulating.  " '…   more



Z. -J. Wang et al., “Cyclic deformation leads to defect healing and strengthening of small-volume metal crystals”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 112. pp. 13502-13507, 2015.
Y. Zhang et al., “Multiple stiffening effects of nanoscale knobs on human red blood cells infected with Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 112. pp. 6068-6073, 2015.


H. Yao et al., “Protection mechanisms of the iron-plated armor of a deep-sea hydrothermal vent gastropod”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 107. pp. 987-992, 2010.


I. S. Choi, Detor, A. J., Schwaiger, R., Dao, M., Schuh, C. A., and Suresh, S., “Mechanics of indentation of plastically graded materials - II: Experiments on nanocrystalline alloys with grain size gradients”, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, vol. 56. pp. 172-183, 2008.


K. Tai, Dao, M., Suresh, S., Palazoglu, A., and Ortiz, C., “Nanoscale heterogeneity promotes energy dissipation in bone”, Nature Materials, vol. 6. pp. 454-462, 2007.


T. Zhu, Li, J., Van Vliet, K. J., Ogata, S., Yip, S., and Suresh, S., “Predictive modeling of nanoindentation-induced homogeneous dislocation nucleation in copper”, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, vol. 52. pp. 691-724, 2004.
J. Li, Zhu, T., Yip, S., Van Vliet, K. J., and Suresh, S., “Elastic criterion for dislocation nucleation”, Materials Science and Engineering a-Structural Materials Properties Microstructure and Processing, vol. 365. pp. 25-30, 2004.
K. J. Van Vliet, Li, J., Zhu, T., Choi, Y. J., Yip, S., and Suresh, S., Defect nucleation - Predictions through nanoscale experiments and computations, vol. 115. 2004.


K. J. Van Vliet, Bao, G., and Suresh, S., “The biomechanics toolbox: experimental approaches for living cells and biomolecules”, Acta Materialia, vol. 51. pp. 5881-5905, 2003.
Y. Choi, Van Vliet, K. J., Li, J., and Suresh, S., “Size effects on the onset of plastic deformation during nanoindentation of thin films and patterned lines”, Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 94. pp. 6050-6058, 2003.
K. J. Van Vliet, Tsikata, S., and Suresh, S., “Model experiments for direct visualization of grain boundary deformation in nanocrystalline metals”, Applied Physics Letters, vol. 83. pp. 1441-1443, 2003.
K. J. Van Vliet, Li, J., Zhu, T., Yip, S., and Suresh, S., “Quantifying the early stages of plasticity through nanoscale experiments and simulations”, Physical Review B, vol. 67. 2003.
T. Zhu, Li, J., Van Vliet, K. J., Yip, S., and Suresh, S., Simulation of nanoindentation via interatomic potential finite element method. 2003.


J. Li, Van Vliet, K. J., Zhu, T., Yip, S., and Suresh, S., “Atomistic mechanisms governing elastic limit and incipient plasticity in crystals”, Nature, vol. 418. pp. 307-310, 2002.
K. J. Van Vliet and Suresh, S., “Simulations of cyclic normal indentation of crystal surfaces using the bubble-raft model”, Philosophical Magazine a-Physics of Condensed Matter Structure Defects and Mechanical Properties, vol. 82. pp. 1993-2001, 2002.


M. Dao, Chollacoop, N., Van Vliet, K. J., Venkatesh, T. A., and Suresh, S., “Computational modeling of the forward and reverse problems in instrumented sharp indentation”, Acta Materialia, vol. 49. pp. 3899-3918, 2001.
A. Gouldstone, Van Vliet, K. J., and Suresh, S., “Nanoindentation - Simulation of defect nucleation in a crystal”, Nature, vol. 411. pp. 656-656, 2001.


T. A. Venkatesh, Van Vliet, K. J., Giannakopoulos, A. E., and Suresh, S., “Determination of elasto-plastic properties by instrumented sharp indentation: Guidelines for property extraction”, Scripta Materialia, vol. 42. pp. 833-839, 2000.


A. Gouldstone, Shen, Y. L., Suresh, S., and Thompson, C. V., “Evolution of stresses in passivated and unpassivated metal interconnects”, Journal of Materials Research, vol. 13. pp. 1956-1966, 1998.
J. Yoo, Cho, K. M., Bae, W. S., Cima, M. J., and Suresh, S., “Transformation-toughened ceramic multilayers with compositional gradients”, Journal of the American Ceramic Society, vol. 81. pp. 21-32, 1998.