Honors & Awards

  • GLAM Postdoctoral Fellow, Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials, Stanford (2016-2018)
  • Member, US Delegation to 2015 Lindau Nobel Laureate Interdisciplinary Meeting, National Science Foundation (2015)
  • Science and Engineering Fellow, NSF Center for Nanotechnology in Society, UCSB (2011-2015)
  • Honorable Mention, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation (2011)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Elected Council Member, Stanford University Postdoctoral Association (2017 - Present)

Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of California Santa Barbara (2016)
  • Bachelor of Science, North Carolina State Univ At Raleigh (2010)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Experimental measurement of the diamond nucleation landscape reveals classical and nonclassical features. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Gebbie, M. A., Ishiwata, H., McQuade, P. J., Petrak, V., Taylor, A., Freiwald, C., Dahl, J. E., Carlson, R. M., Fokin, A. A., Schreiner, P. R., Shen, Z., Nesladek, M., Melosh, N. A. 2018


    Nucleation is a core scientific concept that describes the formation of new phases and materials. While classical nucleation theory is applied across wide-ranging fields, nucleation energy landscapes have never been directly measured at the atomic level, and experiments suggest that nucleation rates often greatly exceed the predictions of classical nucleation theory. Multistep nucleation via metastable states could explain unexpectedly rapid nucleation in many contexts, yet experimental energy landscapes supporting such mechanisms are scarce, particularly at nanoscale dimensions. In this work, we measured the nucleation energy landscape of diamond during chemical vapor deposition, using a series of diamondoid molecules as atomically defined protonuclei. We find that 26-carbon atom clusters, which do not contain a single bulk atom, are postcritical nuclei and measure the nucleation barrier to be more than four orders of magnitude smaller than prior bulk estimations. These data support both classical and nonclassical concepts for multistep nucleation and growth during the gas-phase synthesis of diamond and other semiconductors. More broadly, these measurements provide experimental evidence that agrees with recent conceptual proposals of multistep nucleation pathways with metastable molecular precursors in diverse processes, ranging from cloud formation to protein crystallization, and nanoparticle synthesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1803654115

    View details for PubMedID 30068609

  • Tuning underwater adhesion with cation-pi interactions NATURE CHEMISTRY Gebbie, M. A., Wei, W., Schrader, A. M., Cristiani, T. R., Dobbs, H. A., Idso, M., Chmelka, B. F., Waite, J. H., Israelachvili, J. N. 2017; 9 (5): 473-479


    Cation-π interactions drive the self-assembly and cohesion of many biological molecules, including the adhesion proteins of several marine organisms. Although the origin of cation-π bonds in isolated pairs has been extensively studied, the energetics of cation-π-driven self-assembly in molecular films remains uncharted. Here we use nanoscale force measurements in combination with solid-state NMR spectroscopy to show that the cohesive properties of simple aromatic- and lysine-rich peptides rival those of the strong reversible intermolecular cohesion exhibited by adhesion proteins of marine mussel. In particular, we show that peptides incorporating the amino acid phenylalanine, a functional group that is conspicuously sparing in the sequences of mussel proteins, exhibit reversible adhesion interactions significantly exceeding that of analogous mussel-mimetic peptides. More broadly, we demonstrate that interfacial confinement fundamentally alters the energetics of cation-π-mediated assembly: an insight that should prove relevant for diverse areas, which range from rationalizing biological assembly to engineering peptide-based biomaterials.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/NCHEM.2720

    View details for Web of Science ID 000399785500015

    View details for PubMedID 28430190

  • Long range electrostatic forces in ionic liquids. Chemical communications Gebbie, M. A., Smith, A. M., Dobbs, H. A., Lee, A. A., Warr, G. G., Banquy, X., Valtiner, M., Rutland, M. W., Israelachvili, J. N., Perkin, S., Atkin, R. 2017; 53 (7): 1214-1224


    Ionic liquids are pure salts that are liquid under ambient conditions. As liquids composed solely of ions, the scientific consensus has been that ionic liquids have exceedingly high ionic strengths and thus very short Debye screening lengths. However, several recent experiments from laboratories around the world have reported data for the approach of two surfaces separated by ionic liquids which revealed remarkable long range forces that appear to be electrostatic in origin. Evidence has accumulated demonstrating long range surface forces for several different combinations of ionic liquids and electrically charged surfaces, as well as for concentrated mixtures of inorganic salts in solvent. The original interpretation of these forces, that ionic liquids could be envisioned as "dilute electrolytes," was controversial, and the origin of long range forces in ionic liquids remains the subject of discussion. Here we seek to collate and examine the evidence for long range surface forces in ionic liquids, identify key outstanding questions, and explore possible mechanisms underlying the origin of these long range forces. Long range surface forces in ionic liquids and other highly concentrated electrolytes hold diverse implications from designing ionic liquids for energy storage applications to rationalizing electrostatic correlations in biological self-assembly.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c6cc08820a

    View details for PubMedID 28000809

  • Long-range electrostatic screening in ionic liquids PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Gebbie, M. A., Dobbs, H. A., Valtiner, M., Israelachvili, J. N. 2015; 112 (24): 7432-7437


    Electrolyte solutions with high concentrations of ions are prevalent in biological systems and energy storage technologies. Nevertheless, the high interaction free energy and long-range nature of electrostatic interactions makes the development of a general conceptual picture of concentrated electrolytes a significant challenge. In this work, we study ionic liquids, single-component liquids composed solely of ions, in an attempt to provide a novel perspective on electrostatic screening in very high concentration (nonideal) electrolytes. We use temperature-dependent surface force measurements to demonstrate that the long-range, exponentially decaying diffuse double-layer forces observed across ionic liquids exhibit a pronounced temperature dependence: Increasing the temperature decreases the measured exponential (Debye) decay length, implying an increase in the thermally driven effective free-ion concentration in the bulk ionic liquids. We use our quantitative results to propose a general model of long-range electrostatic screening in ionic liquids, where thermally activated charge fluctuations, either free ions or correlated domains (quasiparticles), take on the role of ions in traditional dilute electrolyte solutions. This picture represents a crucial step toward resolving several inconsistencies surrounding electrostatic screening and charge transport in ionic liquids that have impeded progress within the interdisciplinary ionic liquids community. More broadly, our work provides a previously unidentified way of envisioning highly concentrated electrolytes, with implications for diverse areas of inquiry, ranging from designing electrochemical devices to rationalizing electrostatic interactions in biological systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1508366112

    View details for Web of Science ID 000356251800040

    View details for PubMedID 26040001

  • Bridging adhesion of mussel-inspired peptides: role of charge, chain length, and surface type. Langmuir Wei, W., Yu, J., Gebbie, M. A., Tan, Y., Martinez Rodriguez, N. R., Israelachvili, J. N., Waite, J. H. 2015; 31 (3): 1105-1112


    The 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (Dopa)-containing proteins of marine mussels provide attractive design paradigms for engineering synthetic polymers that can serve as high performance wet adhesives and coatings. Although the role of Dopa in promoting adhesion between mussels and various substrates has been carefully studied, the context by which Dopa mediates a bridging or nonbridging macromolecular adhesion to surfaces is not understood. The distinction is an important one both for a mechanistic appreciation of bioadhesion and for an intelligent translation of bioadhesive concepts to engineered systems. On the basis of mussel foot protein-5 (Mfp-5; length 75 res), we designed three short, simplified peptides (15-17 res) and one relatively long peptide (30 res) into which Dopa was enzymatically incorporated. Peptide adhesion was tested using a surface forces apparatus. Our results show that the short peptides are capable of weak bridging adhesion between two mica surfaces, but this adhesion contrasts with that of full length Mfp-5, in that (1) while still dependent on Dopa, electrostatic contributions are much more prominent, and (2) whereas Dopa surface density remains similar in both, peptide adhesion is an order of magnitude weaker (adhesion energy E(ad) ∼ -0.5 mJ/m(2)) than full length Mfp-5 adhesion. Between two mica surfaces, the magnitude of bridging adhesion was approximately doubled (E(ad) ∼ -1 mJ/m(2)) upon doubling the peptide length. Notably, the short peptides mediate much stronger adhesion (E(ad) ∼ -3.0 mJ/m(2)) between mica and gold surfaces, indicating that a long chain length is less important when different interactions are involved on each of the two surfaces.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/la504316q

    View details for PubMedID 25540823

  • Ionic liquids behave as dilute electrolyte solutions PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Gebbie, M. A., Valtiner, M., Banquy, X., Fox, E. T., Henderson, W. A., Israelachvili, J. N. 2013; 110 (24): 9674-9679


    We combine direct surface force measurements with thermodynamic arguments to demonstrate that pure ionic liquids are expected to behave as dilute weak electrolyte solutions, with typical effective dissociated ion concentrations of less than 0.1% at room temperature. We performed equilibrium force-distance measurements across the common ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide ([C4mim][NTf2]) using a surface forces apparatus with in situ electrochemical control and quantitatively modeled these measurements using the van der Waals and electrostatic double-layer forces of the Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek theory with an additive repulsive steric (entropic) ion-surface binding force. Our results indicate that ionic liquids screen charged surfaces through the formation of both bound (Stern) and diffuse electric double layers, where the diffuse double layer is comprised of effectively dissociated ionic liquid ions. Additionally, we used the energetics of thermally dissociating ions in a dielectric medium to quantitatively predict the equilibrium for the effective dissociation reaction of [C4mim][NTf2] ions, in excellent agreement with the measured Debye length. Our results clearly demonstrate that, outside of the bound double layer, most of the ions in [C4mim][NTf2] are not effectively dissociated and thus do not contribute to electrostatic screening. We also provide a general, molecular-scale framework for designing ionic liquids with significantly increased dissociated charge densities via judiciously balancing ion pair interactions with bulk dielectric properties. Our results clear up several inconsistencies that have hampered scientific progress in this important area and guide the rational design of unique, high-free-ion density ionic liquids and ionic liquid blends.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1307871110

    View details for Web of Science ID 000320930100031

    View details for PubMedID 23716690

  • Interaction Forces between Supported Lipid Bilayers in the Presence of PEGylated Polymers BIOMACROMOLECULES Banquy, X., Lee, D. W., Kristiansen, K., Gebbie, M. A., Israelachvili, J. N. 2016; 17 (1): 88-97


    Using the surface forces apparatus (SFA), interaction forces between supported lipid bilayers were measured in the presence of polyethylene glycol and two other commercially available pegylated triblock polymers, Pluronic F68 and F127. Pluronic F68 has a smaller central hydrophobic block compared to F127 and therefore is more hydrophilic. The study aimed to unravel the effects of polymer architecture and composition on the interactions between the bilayers. Our keys findings show that below the critical aggregation concentration (CAC) of the polymers, a soft, weakly anchored, polymer layer is formed on the surface of the bilayers. The anchoring strength of this physisorbed layer was found to increase significantly with the size of the hydrophobic block of the polymer, and was strongest for the more hydrophobic polymer, F127. Above the CAC, a dense polymer layer, exhibiting gel-like properties, was found to rapidly grow on the bilayers even after mechanical disruption. The cohesive interaction maintaining the gel layer structure was found to be stronger for F127, and was also found to promote the formation of highly structured aggregates on the bilayers.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.biomac.5b01216

    View details for Web of Science ID 000368047800010

    View details for PubMedID 26619081

  • Effects of Surfactants and Polyelectrolytes on the Interaction between a Negatively Charged Surface and a Hydrophobic Polymer Surface LANGMUIR Rapp, M. V., Donaldson, S. H., Gebbie, M. A., Gizaw, Y., Koenig, P., Roiter, Y., Israelachvili, J. N. 2015; 31 (29): 8013-8021


    We have measured and characterized how three classes of surface-active molecules self-assemble at, and modulate the interfacial forces between, a negatively charged mica surface and a hydrophobic end-grafted polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) polymer surface in solution. We provide a broad overview of how chemical and structural properties of surfactant molecules result in different self-assembled structures at polymer and mineral surfaces, by studying three characteristic surfactants: (1) an anionic aliphatic surfactant, sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), (2) a cationic aliphatic surfactant, myristyltrimethylammonium bromide (MTAB), and (3) a silicone polyelectrolyte with a long-chain PDMS midblock and multiple cationic end groups. Through surface forces apparatus measurements, we show that the separate addition of three surfactants can result in interaction energies ranging from fully attractive to fully repulsive. Specifically, SDS adsorbs at the PDMS surface as a monolayer and modifies the monotonic electrostatic repulsion to a mica surface. MTAB adsorbs at both the PDMS (as a monolayer) and the mica surface (as a monolayer or bilayer), resulting in concentration-dependent interactions, including a long-range electrostatic repulsion, a short-range steric hydration repulsion, and a short-range hydrophobic attraction. The cationic polyelectrolyte adsorbs as a monolayer on the PDMS and causes a long-range electrostatic attraction to mica, which can be modulated to a monotonic repulsion upon further addition of SDS. Therefore, through judicious selection of surfactants, we show how to modify the magnitude and sign of the interaction energy at different separation distances between hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces, which govern the static and kinetic stability of colloidal dispersions. Additionally, we demonstrate how the charge density of silicone polyelectrolytes modifies both their self-assembly at polymer interfaces and the robust adhesion of thin PDMS films to target surfaces.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.langmuir.5b01781

    View details for Web of Science ID 000358822300014

    View details for PubMedID 26135325

  • Hydrophobic, Electrostatic, and Dynamic Polymer Forces at Silicone Surfaces Modified with Long-Chain Bolaform Surfactants SMALL Rapp, M. V., Donaldson, S. H., Gebbie, M. A., Das, S., Kaufman, Y., Gizaw, Y., Koenig, P., Roiter, Y., Israelachvili, J. N. 2015; 11 (17): 2058-2068


    Surfactant self-assembly on surfaces is an effective way to tailor the complex forces at and between hydrophobic-water interfaces. Here, the range of structures and forces that are possible at surfactant-adsorbed hydrophobic surfaces are demonstrated: certain long-chain bolaform surfactants-containing a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) mid-block domain and two cationic α, ω-quarternary ammonium end-groups-readily adsorb onto thin PDMS films and form dynamically fluctuating nanostructures. Through measurements with the surface forces apparatus (SFA), it is found that these soft protruding nanostructures display polymer-like exploration behavior at the PDMS surface and give rise to a long-ranged, temperature- and rate-dependent attractive bridging force (not due to viscous forces) on approach to a hydrophilic bare mica surface. Coulombic interactions between the cationic surfactant end-groups and negatively-charged mica result in a rate-dependent polymer bridging force during separation as the hydrophobic surfactant mid-blocks are pulled out from the PDMS interface, yielding strong adhesion energies. Thus, (i) the versatile array of surfactant structures that may form at hydrophobic surfaces is highlighted, (ii) the need to consider the interaction dynamics of such self-assembled polymer layers is emphasized, and (iii) it is shown that long-chain surfactants can promote robust adhesion in aqueous solutions.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smll.201402229

    View details for Web of Science ID 000354226500010

    View details for PubMedID 25504803

  • Developing a General Interaction Potential for Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions LANGMUIR Donaldson, S. H., Royne, A., Kristiansen, K., Rapp, M. V., Das, S., Gebbie, M. A., Lee, D. W., Stock, P., Valtiner, M., Israelachvili, J. 2015; 31 (7): 2051-2064


    We review direct force measurements on a broad class of hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces. These measurements have enabled the development of a general interaction potential per unit area, W(D) = -2γ(i)Hy exp(-D/D(H)) in terms of a nondimensional Hydra parameter, Hy, that applies to both hydrophobic and hydrophilic interactions between extended surfaces. This potential allows one to quantitatively account for additional attractions and repulsions not included in the well-known combination of electrostatic double layer and van der Waals theories, the so-called Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory. The interaction energy is exponentially decaying with decay length D(H) ≈ 0.3-2 nm for both hydrophobic and hydrophilic interactions, with the exact value of D(H) depending on the precise system and conditions. The pre-exponential factor depends on the interfacial tension, γ(i), of the interacting surfaces and Hy. For Hy > 0, the interaction potential describes interactions between partially hydrophobic surfaces, with the maximum hydrophobic interaction (i.e., two fully hydrophobic surfaces) corresponding to Hy = 1. Hydrophobic interactions between hydrophobic monolayer surfaces measured with the surface forces apparatus (SFA) are shown to be well described by the proposed interaction potential. The potential becomes repulsive for Hy < 0, corresponding to partially hydrophilic (hydrated) interfaces. Hydrated surfaces such as mica, silica, and lipid bilayers are discussed and reviewed in the context of the values of Hy appropriate for each system.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/la502115g

    View details for Web of Science ID 000350192400001

    View details for PubMedID 25072835

  • Electrochemical control of specific adhesion between amine-functionalized polymers and noble metal electrode interfaces MATERIALS AND CORROSION-WERKSTOFFE UND KORROSION Donaldson, S. H., Utzig, T., Gebbie, M. A., Raman, S., Shrestha, B. R., Israelachvili, J. N., Valtiner, M. 2014; 65 (4): 362-369
  • The Intersection of Interfacial Forces and Electrochemical Reactions JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY B Israelachvili, J. N., Kristiansen, K., Gebbie, M. A., Lee, D. W., Donaldson, S. H., Das, S., Rapp, M. V., Banquy, X., Valtiner, M., Yu, J. 2013; 117 (51): 16369-16387


    We review recent developments in experimental techniques that simultaneously combine measurements of the interaction forces or energies between two extended surfaces immersed in electrolyte solutions-primarily aqueous-with simultaneous monitoring of their (electro)chemical reactions and controlling the electrochemical surface potential of at least one of the surfaces. Combination of these complementary techniques allows for simultaneous real time monitoring of angstrom level changes in surface thickness and roughness, surface-surface interaction energies, and charge and mass transferred via electrochemical reactions, dissolution, and adsorption, and/or charging of electric double layers. These techniques employ the surface forces apparatus (SFA) combined with various "electrochemical attachments" for in situ measurements of various physical and (electro)chemical properties (e.g., cyclic voltammetry), optical imaging, and electric potentials and currents generated naturally during an interaction, as well as when electric fields (potential differences) are applied between the surfaces and/or solution-in some cases allowing for the chemical reaction equation to be unambiguously determined. We discuss how the physical interactions between two different surfaces when brought close to each other (<10 nm) can affect their chemistry, and suggest further extensions of these techniques to biological systems and simultaneous in situ spectroscopic measurements for chemical analysis.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jp408144g

    View details for Web of Science ID 000329331800001

    View details for PubMedID 24229092

  • Asymmetric Electrostatic and Hydrophobic-Hydrophilic Interaction Forces between Mica Surfaces and Silicone Polymer Thin Films ACS NANO Donaldson, S. H., Das, S., Gebbie, M. A., Rapp, M., Jones, L. C., Roiter, Y., Koenig, P. H., Gizaw, Y., Israelachvili, J. N. 2013; 7 (11): 10094-10104


    We have synthesized model hydrophobic silicone thin films on gold surfaces by a two-step covalent grafting procedure. An amino-functionalized gold surface reacts with monoepoxy-terminated polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) via a click reaction, resulting in a covalently attached nanoscale thin film of PDMS, and the click chemistry synthesis route provides great selectivity, reproducibility, and stability in the resulting model hydrophobic silicone thin films. The asymmetric interaction forces between the PDMS thin films and mica surfaces were measured with the surface forces apparatus in aqueous sodium chloride solutions. At an acidic pH of 3, attractive interactions are measured, resulting in instabilities during both approach (jump-in) and separation (jump-out from adhesive contact). Quantitative analysis of the results indicates that the Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek theory alone, i.e., the combination of electrostatic repulsion and van der Waals attraction, cannot fully describe the measured forces and that the additional measured adhesion is likely due to hydrophobic interactions. The surface interactions are highly pH-dependent, and a basic pH of 10 results in fully repulsive interactions at all distances, due to repulsive electrostatic and steric-hydration interactions, indicating that the PDMS is negatively charged at high pH. We describe an interaction potential with a parameter, known as the Hydra parameter, that can account for the extra attraction (low pH) due to hydrophobicity as well as the extra repulsion (high pH) due to hydrophilic (steric-hydration) interactions. The interaction potential is general and provides a quantitative measure of interfacial hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity for any set of interacting surfaces in aqueous solution.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/nn4050112

    View details for Web of Science ID 000327752200057

    View details for PubMedID 24138532

  • Reply to Perkin et al.: Experimental observations demonstrate that ionic liquids form both bound (Stern) and diffuse electric double layers PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Gebbie, M. A., Valtiner, M., Banquy, X., Henderson, W. A., Israelachvili, J. N. 2013; 110 (44): E4122-E4122
  • Interactions and visualization of bio-mimetic membrane detachment at smooth and nano-rough gold electrode surfaces SOFT MATTER Donaldson, S. H., Valtiner, M., Gebbie, M. A., Haradad, J., Israelachvili, J. N. 2013; 9 (21): 5231-5238

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c3sm27217f

    View details for Web of Science ID 000318562800013

  • Hydrophobic Forces, Electrostatic Steering, and Acid-Base Bridging between Atomically Smooth Self-Assembled Monolayers and End-Functionalized PEGolated Lipid Bilayers JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Valtiner, M., Donaldson, S. H., Gebbie, M. A., Israelachvili, J. N. 2012; 134 (3): 1746-1753


    A molecular level understanding of interaction forces and dynamics between asymmetric apposing surfaces (including end-functionalized polymers) in water plays a key role in the utilization of molecular structures for smart and functional surfaces in biological, medical, and materials applications. To quantify interaction forces and binding dynamics between asymmetric apposing surfaces in terms of their chemical structure and molecular design we developed a novel surface forces apparatus experiment, using self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on atomically smooth gold substrates. Varying the SAM head group functionality allowed us to quantitatively identify, rationalize, and therefore control which interaction forces dominated between the SAM surfaces and a surface coated with short-chain, amine end-functionalized polyethylene glycol (PEG) polymers extending from a lipid bilayer. Three different SAM-terminations were chosen for this study: (a) carboxylic acid, (b) alcohol, and (c) methyl head group terminations. These three functionalities allowed for the quantification of (a) specific acid-base bindings, (b) steric effects of PEG chains, and (c) adhesion of hydrophobic segments of the polymer backbone, all as a function of the solution pH. The pH-dependent acid-base binding appears to be a specific and charge mediated hydrogen bonding interaction between oppositely charged carboxylic acid and amine functionalities, at pH values above the acid pK(A) and below the amine pK(A). The long-range electrostatic "steering" of acid and base pairs leads to remarkably rapid binding formation and high binding probability of this specific binding even at distances close to full extension of the PEG tethers, a result which has potentially important implications for protein folding processes and enzymatic catalysis.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/ja209653n

    View details for Web of Science ID 000301084400061

    View details for PubMedID 22176530