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Rene Overney

Faculty Photo

Chemical Engineering

  • (206) 543-4353
  • BNS 349


  • Ph.D., Experimental Condensed Matter Physics, University of Basel (Switzerland), 1992
  • M.S., Theoretical Physics, University of Basel (Switzerland), 1989
  • B.S., Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy, University of Basel (Switzerland), 1987

Previous appointments

  • Associate Director for Education, UW Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute, 2010-2016
  • Visiting Professor at the University of Basel, (Switzerland), 2005
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Exxon (CR), 1994-1996

Research Statement

Overney's research interests center on rational molecular engineering based on nanoscale fundamentals, with a focus on enhanced electronic, photonic, ionic, energy, momentum and mass transport properties, based on molecular relaxations and entropic cooperative properties in complex organic thin films. Applications include tribology (lubrication, adhesion), interfacial compatibilization, electronics, ultrahigh density mass storage, and fuel cells. Overney’s group is known for its pioneering efforts in developing novel scanning probe methods towards mapping inter- and intra-molecular energetics and transitions in thin film and self-assembled systems.

Nanoscale Surface Science and Polymer Rheology

Developments of technology are becoming more and more challenging because we are approaching the inherent limitations in materials. Within the scientific community, there is considerable effort being directed towards understanding the physical and chemical properties of interfaces and surfaces of thin films. In particular, on the submicrometer scale within the field of polymers and tribology (friction, wear, and adhesion), it has been recognized that surface mechanical and rheological properties, surface structures, and interfacial interactions are of great importance to improve reaction rates, energy efficiencies (e.g., fuel efficiency), etc.
One of today's most promising techniques in studying surfaces on the submicrometer scale is the scanning probe microscope (SPM). The SPM derives from the scanning tunneling microscope (STM), the first real-space imaging tool with the capability of atomic-scale resolution. From the STM, a huge variety of other SPMs originated-such as the scanning force microscope (SFM) and the scanning near field optical microscope (SNOM).

Honors & awards

  • UW COE Community of Innovators Award in Teaching and Learning , 2012