MSE Seminar - Dr. Dawn A. Bonnell, University of Pennsylvania (NAE)

MSE Seminar
Event Date:
Monday, March 28, 2016 - 4:00pm
GTMI Auditorium

Dr.  Dawn A. Bonnell, Henry Robinson Towne Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, and Vice Provost for Research, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, University of Pennsylvania (NAE) 

The Critical Role of Atoms at Surfaces and Interfaces: Do we really have control? Can we?

It is an accepted truism that the behavior of surfaces and interfaces is dictated by the interactions of atoms.  Further, the efficacy of chemical reactions and the function of devices are dictated by the behavior of surfaces and interfaces, respectively. Consequently, understanding atomic interactions at surfaces and interfaces is the foundational basis for predicting, controlling, and designing devices and processes. 

With the ubiquity of catalyzed chemical reactions in manufacturing, the emergence of the device laden internet of things, and the global challenges with respect to water and energy, it has never been more important to understand atomic interactions in the functional materials that can provide solutions in these spaces.

 This talk will consider the issue from two perspectives.

The first will examine the atomic and electronic structures of ferroelectric surfaces with a view towards determining thermodynamic stability of various phases, and ultimately the control of surface reactions.  This case will be based on the prototypical ferroelectric, BaTiO3, as a demonstration model system.

The second will explore the size dependence of nano scale heterogeneous interfaces with the goal of inducing new properties.  In this case metal-semiconductor and metal-organic interfaces will be used to demonstrate size dependence in resistive switching properties and hot electron generation.


Dawn Bonnell is the Henry Robinson Towne Professor of Engineering and Applied Science and the Vice Provost for Research at the University of Pennsylvania.   She received her PhD from the University of Michigan and was a Fulbright scholar to the Max-Planck-Institute in Stuttgart, Germany, after which she worked at IBM Thomas Watson Research Center.  She has authored or coauthored over 250 publications and edited several books.  Her work has been recognized by awards including the Presidential Young Investigators Award, the Ross Coffin Purdy Award, the Sosman Award, the Staudinger/Durrer Medal from ETH Zurich, and distinguished lectureships.  She serves on many editorial boards, national and international advisory committees, is a past president of AVS, a past vice president of the American Ceramic Society, and served on the governing board of the American Institute of Physics.  She is a fellow of the Am. Cer. Soc, the AAAS, the AVS, the Materials Research Society and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.  She was the founding Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center, that directed $30M  to research at the intersections of technology and biology. In her role as Vice Provost for Research Dr. Bonnell shapes policy and advances administrative initiatives for the Penn’s $900 million/year research enterprise.

Research in the Bonnell group focuses on atomic processes at surfaces.  The group is known for the first imaging of atoms on oxide surfaces, a result that generated a new field impacting catalysis, nanofabrication and materials growth technology sectors.  Her research focusses on nanometer scale phenomena at surfaces and interfaces.  An additional outcome of this research program has been the invention of new probes that reveal the behavior of small structures.