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Nathan Swami

Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor

Thornton Hall - C218
351 McCormick Road
PO Box 400743
Charlottesville, VA 22904-1000

Phone: (434)924-1390
FAX: (434) 924-8818

Molecular and bioelectric devices: Control over surface and interfacial phenomena are a key to understanding and manipulating the properties of nanoscale materials and devices. Through electronic functionalization of device surfaces the research group aims to develop molecular and bioelectric devices with controlled interfacial geometry, electronic structure, charge and chemistry to engineer nanoscale paradigms for guided self-assembly, signal transduction, sensing, and modulation of magnetic moments or charge. These paradigms may be applied within implantable biomaterials, microfluidic biomolecular devices, and nanoelectronic devices for purposes of tissue regeneration and molecular or environmental sensing. Research techniques include the use of electrical and electrochemical methods for assembly, fabrication and characterization of the described nanoscale interfacial phenomena on electronic, biomedical and environmental systems of interest. Nathan Swami teaches courses in the area of semiconductor devices.

Nathan Swami received his Ph.D. in Materials Science, at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1998. His research was centered on developing device paradigms based on fullerene, conducting fulleride and carbon nanotube phases. Following this, Nathan Swami was a Senior Scientist at a start-up company out of Caltech called Clinical Micro Sensors, Inc., working on developing microelectronic interfaces to molecular biology for eventual application as DNA sensors and lab-on-chip devices. Upon acquisition of the start-up by Motorola Inc. in 2000, he worked on the technical staff at Motorola Labs. After a stint as the Director of the statewide nanotechnology initiative, where he coordinated activities between numerous nanotechnology research centers within the state, he joined the faculty at the UVA Electrical & Computer Engineering Department in 2004. At UVA he teaches courses in semiconductor devices, directs the Electrical Engineering graduate program, and conducts research in the area of molecular and bioelectric devices.


  • Tissue Regeneration: The guided assembly of bio-degradable polymeric nanofibers scaffolds to mimic the extra-cellular matrix can result in assembly and regeneration of nerves, ligaments, and organs. My research group develops device interfaces for the control of electric fields during the electrospinning of the nanofibers to enable fiber alignment and patterning of fiber chemistry, which allows for hierarchical control of biofunctionality. Funding: NSF EFRI
  • Bioelectric Devices: Our group develops microfluidic biomolecular devices with nanostructured edges, constrictions and gaps to locally enhance electric field gradients during dielectrophoresis. This is aimed to enhance kinetics of biological processes by selective preconcentration of biopolymers, cells, and growth factors of interests, as well as for localized initiation of various biological functions such as electroporation, electro-fusion and wound healing. Funding: NSF NER
  • Molecular Device junctions: The control of surface charge and surfaces states are vital to signal transduction in the fields of nanoelectronics and photovoltaics. Towards this, my research group examines use of organic molecules to influence the modulation of charge at molecule-semiconductor interfaces, as well as for controlling the degree of electronic coupling at metal-molecule-semiconductor device junctions. Funding: NSF ECCS
  • Environmental implications of Nanotechnology: The research group examines the risks and benefits to society from the use of silver nanotechnologies for antibacterial and wound healing applications. Specifically, we characterize silver ion release and the role of its catalytic effects, such as the influence of the resulting activated oxygen on biological processes of interest. (Funding: NSF NER)

Most Recent Publications:

  • F. Camacho-Alanis, L. Wu, G. Zangari, N. Swami*, "Molecular Devices of ~1nm device length on self assembled monolayer modified n- versus p-GaAs", Journal of Materials Chemistry (accepted).
  • Wardak, A.; Gorman, M. E.; Swami, N.*; Deshpande S.+. Identification of Risks in the Life-Cycle of Nanotechnology-Based Products, Journal of Industrial Ecology 2008, 12, 1-14.
  • R. Parthasarathy, A. Bykhovski, B. Gelmont, T. Globus, N. Swami, and D. Woolard, "Enhanced Coupling of Subterahertz Radiation with Semiconductor Periodic Slot Arrays", Physical Review Letters 98, 153906 (2007); DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.98.153906.
  • N. Gergel-Hackett, N. Majumdar, Z. Martin+, N. Swami, L. R. Harriott, J. C. Bean*, Gyana Pattanaik and Giovanni Zangari, Y. Zhu and L. Pu, Y. Yao and J. M. Tour, "The Effects of Molecular Environments on the Electrical Switching with Memory of Nitro-Containing OPEs", Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A, 24 (4): 1243-1248 JUL-AUG 2006.
  • Wardak, A.; Gorman, M.E.; Swami, N.; Rajeski, D. Environmental Regulation of Nanotechnology and TSCA, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Summer 2007, 2, 48-56.