Marya Lieberman

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Notre Dame

"Forces and Materials at the Nanoscale"

    Professor Lieberman studied chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating with a B.S. in 1989. She worked with Professor Tomikazu Sasaki at the University of Washington on the de novo design of protein structure, receiving her Ph.D. in 1994. She investigated semiconductor-liquid junction solar cells as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow with Professor Nathan Lewis at the California Institute of Technology and joined the faculty of the University of Notre Dame in 1996. She was promoted to associate professor in 2002.

    Professor Lieberman's research focuses on surface chemistry, self-assembly of two- and three-dimensional structures, and molecular electronics. The main experimental techniques used are inorganic/organic synthesis, CMOS processing, and physical and analytical measurements of surface or materials properties. Scanning tunneling microscopy, atomic force microscopy, electrochemistry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and optical spectroscopy are used to get insight into the structure and electronic properties of molecules on surfaces or inside materials. Her work is quite interdisciplinary and she collaborates with several groups in the College of Engineering.

    She studies fundamental materials issues for the integration of self-assembling DNA nanostructures (DNA lattices, tiles, or origami) with top-down CMOS fabrication methods. DNA-templated assembly of electronic components offers several possible wins as a patterning technology for nanoelectronics. Self-assembly of DNA can create objects on the scale of 10-100 nm as well as repeating grids or meshes that cover several square microns. Design principles are sufficiently understood such that DNA nanostructures with novel, arbitrary shapes can move from concept to reality in about 2 weeks. Students with an interest in synthetic chemistry can tackle the integration of non-DNA components with DNA nanostructures, while students with more of a physical or analytical focus can address fundamental questions about the yields, error types, and ultimate utility of self-assembly.

    Electron-beam lithography is used in very high resolution CMOS fabrication processes. She is developing methodology to use the electron beam to chemically pattern a surface, and then to deposit biomolecules upon the very tiny chemical patterns. Biomolecules of interest include proteins, virus particles, and DNA.