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David Anthony Muller

  • David Anthony Muller
  • Dept: Applied and Engineering Physics
  • Title: Samuel B. Eckert Professor of Engineering
  • Address: 274 Clark Hall
  • Phone: 607 255-4065
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David Muller is a professor of Applied and Engineering Physics at Cornell University, and the acting director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science. His current research interests include the physics of renewable energy materials, atomic resolution electron microscopy and spectroscopy and the atomic-scale control of materials to create electronic phases that cannot exist in the bulk.

He is a graduate of the University of Sydney and received a PhD from Cornell University in the field of Physics. As a member of the technical staff in the physical sciences division at Bell Labs, he applied his research on imaging single atoms and atomic-scale spectroscopy to determine the physical limits on how small a transistor can be made.

For this work, he was named one of the top 100 young innovators in 2003 by Tech Review Magazine, and recipient of the Burton Medal from the Microscopy Society of America in 2006. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Microscopy Society of America, has received the Chau award for Excellence in Teaching in 2006 and the Provost's Award for Distinguished Scholarship in 2010 from Cornell University. He has 5 patents and has published over 150 papers, including over 35 in Nature or Science. His work has received over 10,000 citations.

Research Interests

My group's research at Cornell University is focused on understanding the behavior of materials and devices at the atomic scale, with an emphasis on renewable energy applications. Using some of the most powerful electron microscopes in the world, placed in specially-designed and environmentally isolated rooms, we are able to explore the chemistry, electronic structure and bonding inside objects as diverse as transistors, turbine blades, two-dimensional superconductors, fuel cells and batteries. All of these systems are made up of different materials, and where they join at the atomic scale, the boundary conditions on the quantum mechanical wavefunctions force very different behavior from what might be expected of the bulk materials. At these boundaries, where everyday intuition breaks down, we are searching for new and unexpected phases and physics. The impact of this research on devices, both larger and small, could be very significant.

We are interested in students who enjoy both physics theory and experiment, can think in both real and reciprocal space, and care about both why things are, and what they might be used for. Openings are likely in the area of atomically-engineered materials for energy generation, conversion and storage, and studies of two-dimensional materials and electronic phases in complex oxides. Projects range from fundamental science to collaboration with industry.

Selected Publications

  • Xin, H. L., J. A. Mundy, Z. Liu, R. Cabezas, R. Hovden, L. F. Kourkoutis, J. Zhang, N. P. Subramanian, R. Makharia, F. T. Wagner, David Anthony Muller. 2012. "Atomic-Resolution Spectroscopic Imaging of Ensembles of Nanocatalyst Particles Across the Life of a Fuel Cell." Nano letters 12 (1): 490-497.
  • Huang, P Y., C S. Ruiz-Vargas, A M. van der Zande, W S. Whitney, M P. Levendorf, J W. Kevek, S. Garg, J S. Alden, C J. Hustedt, Y. Zhu, J. Park, P L. McEuen, David Anthony Muller. 2011. "Grains and Grain Boundaries in Single-Layer Graphene Atomic Patchwork Quilts." Nature 469 (7330): 389-392.
  • Muller, David Anthony, L. F. Kourkoutis, M. Murfitt, J. H. Song, H. Y. Hwang, J. Silcox, N. Dellby, O. L. Krivanek. 2008. "Atomic-scale chemical imaging of composition and bonding by aberration-corrected microscopy." Science 319 (5866): 1073-1076.
  • Holtz, M E., Y. Yu, D. Gunceler, J. Gao, R. Sundararaman, K A. Schwarz, T A. Arias, H D. Abruña, D A Muller. 2014. "Nanoscale Imaging of Lithium Ion Distribution During In Situ Operation of Battery Electrode and Electrolyte." Nano letters 14: 1453-1459.
  • Huang, P Y., S. Kurasch, J S. Alden, A. Shekhawat, A A. Alemi, P L. McEuen, J P. Sethna, U. Kaiser, D A Muller. 2013. "Imaging atomic rearrangements in two-dimensional silica glass: watching silica's dance.." Science 342 (6155): 224-227.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Fellow of the Microscopy Society of America (Microscopy Society of America) 2013
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society 2011
  • Provost's Award for Distinguished Research 2010 (Office of the Provost, Cornell University) 2010
  • Burton Medal (Microscopy Society of America) 2006
  • Chau Award for Excellence in Teaching (Applied & Engineering Physics, Cornell University) 2006



  • BS (Physics), University of Sydney, 1991
  • MS (Physics), University of Sydney, 1993
  • Ph D (Physics), Cornell University, 1996