Department of

Chemical Engineering

Designing molecular technology for the 21st century with biology and chemistry


Professor Seong H. Kim | News

Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS) chemical engineering recipient photos

Congratulations to the faculty members and the chemical engineering alumnus who have received awards from the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS).

Professor Ali Borhan wins the Lawrence J. Perez Memorial Student Advocate Award. Professor Seong Kim receives the Outstanding Research Award, and alumnus Ken Graziani wins the Distinguished Service Award for his continuing work for the department of chemical engineering and Penn State.

The recipients formally received their awards at the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society Awards Ceremony held on April 1, 2014.


Seong Kim's research is featured on the cover of Langmuir, Vol. 30, Iss. 11, from March 25, 2014.

The image is derived from the feature article describing the equilibrium thickness and structures of adsorbed water and alcohol molecules on flat solid surfaces and their impacts on the tribological properties of solid surfaces under ambient pressure and temperature conditions. For more information, see "Effects of Gas or Vapor Adsorption on Adhesion, Friction, and Wear of Solid Interfaces" by Anthony J. Barthel, Ala' Al-Azizi, Nicholas D. Surdyka, and Seong H. Kim on pages 29772992.


Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems or MEMS are found in a variety of consumer products ranging from inkjet printers and the accelerometers that deploy your car's airbags, to the tiny gyroscopes that sense the movement of your Nintendo Wii or the way you rotate your iPhone.

Since MEMS are on the nanoscale, when we try to build systems with gears or other moving parts friction and lubrication become an issue. The February 2010 Tribology & Lubrication Technology Journal features an article that discusses the work of the Seong Kim Research Group as they attempt to develop a viable lubricant for Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS).

Download the "MEMS: An end to fear of contact.pdf" from the February 2010 issue of Tribology & Lubrication Technology Journal.

Chemical Engineering June 2013 (PAWS) Student of the month

Photo of graduate student David Marchand, June 2013 Safety Student of the Month.

David Marchand of the Seong Kim Research Group received the PAWS (Prevent Accidents With Safety) Student of the Month Award for June 2013.

A nominator said, "David has made it a habit of encouraging proper experimental set up and safety, and our lab has improved considerably since his return".

David will receive a $25 gift card to a local business of his choice.

Congratulations David.

Seong Kim research group develops Underwater Atomic Force Microscopy

Professor Seong Kim and his research group pioneer a new research method allowing biologists to probe the structure and electrical properties of cell membranes under natural conditions.

This new technique will provide a better understanding of the structure and electrical properties of biological materials such as cell membranes or proteins, which biologists need to study them in their native, watery environments.

Standard AFM experiments use a sharp tip scans over a surface, producing an image based on the forces the tip experiences as it interacts with molecules or atoms on the surface. AFM can generate atomic-scale information on the topography and electrical properties of a surface.

This technique works well in air and with robust samples that can withstand contact with the hard, sharp imaging tip, however, AFM is not a good technique to use with Biological structures like cells and proteins.

View the entire article "Underwater Atomic Force Microscopy" on the Chemical and Engineering News Website.

Seong Kim earns "Professor" of Chemical Engineering

Congratulations to faculty member Seong Kim who was recently promoted to Professor of Chemical Engieering.

Dr. Seong Kim receives a Courtesy Appointment

It is our pleasure to announce that faculty member Seong Kim has been named Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering in addition to having the title of Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Congratulations Dr. Seong Kim.

Graduate student Anthony Barthel is traveling through the NSF EAPSI Fellowship

Photo of graduate student Anthony Barthel.

Graduate student Anthony Barthel will be traveling to Korea for research with the aid of the National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) Fellowship.

Anthony is part of the Seong Kim Research Group and will be continuing a research collaboration in Korea that includes former members of Dr. Kim's research group.

Good luck Anthony.

Graduate Student Chris Lee wins the best poster award

Photo of Graduate Student Chris Lee receiving his American Chemical Society best poster award.

Graduate student Chris Lee wins 2012 ACS Division of Cellulose and Renewable Materials Best Poster Award.

Chris' research poster is titled "Structure of crystalline cellulose during growth in Arabidopsis thaliana and A. xylinum: A sum-frequency-generation (SFG) vibrational spectroscopy study". This project is part of ongoing research Chris is conducting with adviser Dr. Seong Kim.

Congratulations Chris.

Graduate Student Ala Al-Azizi receives NSF Fellowship

Photo of graduate student Ala Al-Azizi.

Graduate student Ala Al-Azizi has been selected to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship for the 2012 NSF CMMI Engineering Research and Innovation Conference to be held in July 2012.

Ala is a member of Dr. Seong Kim's Research Group in
the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Congratulations Ala.


A Misunderstanding Leads to Method for Making Nanowells

A safe, simple, and cheap method of creating perfectly etched micron and smaller size wells in a variety of substrates has been developed by researchers in Seong Kim's and Darrell Velegol's groups in The Department of Chemical Engineering.

This new process evolved out of a miscomunication between researchers and lead to surprising discovery. View the complete article on the Science Daily News Website.


February 2010 Tribology and Lubrication Technology
cover story features the research of the Seong Kim Research Group.

Doadload a P D F of the article "MEMS: An end to Fear of Contact, New lubrication technologies open the door to micromotors, turbines, gears, sliding mechanisms and other innovative contact applications".

TLT, vol. 66, no. 2, February 2010.pdf, (700 K. B.)


Air Products Graduate Fellowship in Chemical Engineering

Graduate Student Anna Barnette (Seong Kim Research Group) has been selected to receive this year's Air Products Graduate Fellowship in Chemical Engineering.

The Fellowship is part of an ongoing effort to strengthen the relationship between Penn State and Air Products - the Department truly appreciates the financial support that Air Products has provided for this award.


Advanced Coatings


View an article covering my group's research on MEMS coatings in the Winter 2009 issue of "Focus on Materials". MEMS are embedded in cell phones, automotive air bags, digital cameras, microphones, ink jet printers, and the popular Nintendo Wii gaming system.

View the "Advanced Coatings" article. - Link fixed on 05/15/12.

Download the entire Winter 2009 issue of "Focus on Materials" pdf. - Link fixed on 05/15/12.


David Asay and Omkar Parajuli recieve the Rustum & Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award

Cover of the Fall 2008 Focus on Materials magazine.

Former group member David B. Asay received the third annual Rustum & Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award for " interdisciplinary materials research which yields valuable, unexpected results."

View the complete story on the M R I "Focus on Materials" website. - Link fixed on 05/15/12.


View a P D F article in the April 2008 issue of Tribology & Lubrication Technology Journal (1.2 M.B.)

View a P D F article in the April 2008 issue of Tribology & Lubrication Technology Journal (1.2 M.B.) about Dr. Kim's research with MEMS.


Sandia National Laboratories, SUMMiTTM Technologies,

View an article about our research with MEMS title Vapour may solve lubrication problem in tiny devices on The Nature News Web Site.

David B. Asay is the recipient of the
Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award

Graduate student David B. Asay is the recipient of the Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award. The Rustum and Della Roy Innovation in Materials Research Award honors interdisciplinary materials research at Penn State which yields valuable, unexpected results and recognizes genuine innovation not previously achieved.


View a special issue of Nano Today on nanotribology. You can find several review papers on nanotribology problems including Prof. Kim's review article.

05/15/12 - We are currently looking for this article.


Developmnet of a practical atmospheric plasma treatment process for depositing stable hydrophobic coatings on a range of materials.

View the article on Chemical Technology web site.


Above: PPy-PEO composite nanofibers with an average size 96 30 nm are synthesized by vapor phase polymerization of pyrrole over electrospun PEO-FeCl3 fibers. The pyrrole monomer vapor difficulties into the nanofibers and is oxidatively polymerized by FeCl3 into polypyrrole. Futher details can be found in the Communication By S. Nair, S. Natarajan, and S. H. Kim.


View the article on Penn State Live Web Site about my research with with Postdoctoral Fellow Kenneth Strawhecker involving the lubrication of micro electromechanical systems (M.E.M.S.).

Top of page