Jacob Israelachvili

Educator, Person


Who is Jacob Israelachvili?

Jacob Israelachvili is a professor of chemical engineering and materials at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Israelachvili received his Ph.D. in Physics from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1972, and joined UCSB in 1986. His research has involved study of molecular and interfacial forces. His work is applicable to a wide range of industrial and fundamental science problems. In particular, he has contributed significantly to the understanding of colloidal dispersions, biological systems, and polymer engineering applications. Currently, he is studying interfacial phenomena, the physics of thin films, and fundamental questions in rheology and tribology of surfaces.

Israelachvili has developed numerous techniques for the static and dynamic measurement of material and molecular properties of vapors, liquids, and surfaces. In particular, he pioneered a sensitive interfacial force-sensing technique known as the surface forces apparatus. This instrument involves carefully approaching two surfaces, and measuring the force of attraction and repulsion between them. Using piezoelectric positional movement and optical interferometry for position sensing, this instrument can resolve distances to within 0.1 nanometer, and forces at the 10–8 N level. This technique is similar to measuring the force of interaction between an atomic force microscope and a sample surface, except that the specialized SFA can measure much longer-range forces and is intended for surface-surface interaction measurements. The results of SFA experiments can be used to characterize the nature of intermolecular potentials and other molecular properties.

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  • University of Cambridge
  • Christ's College, Cambridge
  • University of California, Santa Barbara

on July 23, 2013


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