ARC Nanotechnology Network

Prof Israelachvili Distinguished Lecturer

Biographical information

Jacob Israelachvili received his BA and MA in (Experimental) Physics from the University of Cambridge, England, and also carried out graduate and postgraduate research work there at the Surface Physics Department of the Cavendish Laboratory. He received his PhD in 1972. After a two-year European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) research fellowship at the University of Stockholm, he left for Australia where, from 1974 to 1986, he lead an experimental research group devoted to measuring the forces between surfaces. In 1986 he joined the faculty of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) where he holds joint appointments as Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department, the Materials Department, and the BioMolecular Science and Engineering program. From 1993 to 2003 he was the Associate Director of the Materials Research Laboratory at UCSB.

Research interests

Israelachvili’s research interests are in the general area of intermolecular and intersurface forces in biological, complex fluid and materials systems. He uses the Surface Forces Apparatus for directly measuring the forces between surfaces in liquids and vapors, and for studying other interfacial phenomena at the molecular level. Many other techniques are also used. Not only static (i.e., equilibrium) but also dynamic forces are being looked at, such as the ‘micro’ and ‘nano’ viscosities of ultra-thin liquid films, molecular relaxation processes at surfaces, adhesion and friction, lubrication and wear. In particular, Professor Israelachvili is currently studying the very short-range forces between surfaces in liquids and the relation between adhesion, friction, and the conformations of molecules trapped between surfaces. Another area of activity is the development of new experimental techniques, especially for studying dynamic and time-dependent interactions. New techniques are also being developed for studying different materials and surfaces such as polymers, gels, silica, metals, metal oxides, ceramics, biological macromolecules (lipids, proteins, biopolymers, ligands and their receptors) and the interactions (adhesion, fusion and biolubrication) of model and real biomembranes and biosurfaces. The aim of these studies is to gain insight into the fundamental interactions in complex colloidal and biological systems that also have technological applications, for example, for creating biocompatible surfaces, developing new types of structured materials and soft biomaterials, and for medical diagnoses or treatments. As of October 2004 has published (authored or co-authored) 287 papers, and is the author of a text-book entitled “Intermolecular and Surface Forces”.

A video recoding on DVD of the seminar given at the Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering, ANU Canberra is now available.

If you would like a complimentary copy of the DVD, please email your name and postal address

Tour Details:

SYDNEY on Friday 9th Feb
Location: Macquarie University
Building E6A, Room 102
Time: 11:00 AM
Contact:Carol McNaught email:

CANBERRA on Monday 12th Feb
Location: The Australian National University
Leonard Huxley Lecture Theatre, end of Mills Rd
Time: 11:00 AM
Contact: Ilonka Krolikowska email: Ph: 02 6125 2495

ADELAIDE on Thursday 15th Feb
Location: University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes Campus
Room MC1-02, Mawson Centre
Time: 11:00 AM
Contact: Prof Roger Horn email:

MELBOURNE on Friday 16th Feb 2007
Location: University of Melbourne
Cunning Theatre, School of Chemistry
Time: 2:15 PM
Contact: Michelle Gee email: