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Opportunity at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Theoretical Nanoscale Science


Physical Measurement Laboratory, Microsystems and Nanotechnology Division

RO# Location
50.68.02.B8072 Gaithersburg, MD 20899

Please note: This Agency only participates in the February and August reviews.


Name E-mail Phone
Zwolak, Michael Philip 301.975.4258


It has long been a dream to design molecular devices and machines in Nature's image. From the complex machinery of the ribosome to the integration of information, sensing, and actuation in cells, biological systems conduct the most exquisite nanofabrication and molecular operation that we know of. DNA nanotechnology, in particular, makes information – the sequence of bases – into structures by taking advantage of the specificity of Watson-Crick pairing. Thermodynamic and kinetic factors, though, influence the microscopic trajectories and steer the ensemble to a collection of outcomes, influencing yield and functionality in the process. To do as biology does (whether chemical, e.g., ribosomal, or structural), we require better tools to measure, model, and understand the complex interplay of molecules and their environment that ultimately leads to functional nanostructures. We are developing the theoretical principles of biomolecular assembly, design, and measurement. To do so, we employ a range of complementary techniques, from pen-and-paper theory to Brownian dynamics to large-scale all-atom molecular dynamics and innovative computational algorithms to tackle behavior spanning multiple length and time scales. Our team is engaged in a number of related projects in biomolecular force measurement, nanopore analysis platforms, and spectroscopic techniques for biomolecular dynamics. As part of the Microsystems and Nanotechnology Division at NIST, we offer a highly-collaborative atmosphere where close contact with experimental groups affords the opportunity to put theory into practice.


  • A spin-1 representation for dual-funnel energy landscapes, J. E. Elenewski, K. A. Velizhanin & M. Zwolak, J. Chem. Phys. 149, 035101 (2018)
  • The golden aspect ratio for ion transport, S. Sahu & M. Zwolak, Phys. Rev. E 98, 012404 (2018)
  • Dehydration as a Universal Mechanism for Ion Selectivity in Graphene and Other Atomically Thin Pores., S. Sahu, M. Di Ventra & M. Zwolak, Nano Lett. 17, 4719 (2017)
Self-assembly; DNA nanostructures; DNA origami; Protein folding; Conformational fluctuations; Structural transitions; Biomolecules; Nanostructures; Nanofluidics; Ion channels; Thermal transport; Electronic transport; Ion transport; Biophysics; Nanotechnology; Theory; High-performance computing;


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral applicants
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