Prathima Nalam



Current Position:

NBIC Post Doctoral Fellow

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

University of Pennsylvania

112 Towne Building, 220 S. 33rd Street

19104, Philadelphia, PA, US

Phone Number: 215-898-4591




PhD (2012)        

ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Department of Material Science, Laboratory of Surface Science and Technology

Dissertation: Polymer Brushes in Aqueous Solvent Mixtures: Impact of Polymer Conformation on Tribological Properties

Supervisor: Prof. Nicholas D Spencer


Masters of Science (2007)    

ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Department of Materials, Zurich, Specialization in Nano Science and Technology

Thesis title: Functionalization of three-dimensional polymer substrates with nanodots for cell culturing.

Supervisor: Prof. Joachim Spatz, Department of New Materials and Biosystems, Max-Planck Institute, Stuttgart, Germany.


Bachelors of Technology (2002)

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Gayatri Vidya Parishad College of Engineering, JNTU, India


Research Interests:

My current research interests are:

1. Study of nano-mechanical properties of soft films and materials.

2. Nanomechanics of pH Responsive Bilayer Films for Smart Drug Delivery Platforms

2. Development and functionalization of NCD-coated AFM scanning probes.

3. Nano-lithography of polymer films using AFM probes.



12. Direct torsional actuation of microcantilevers using magnetic excitation.

Nitya Nand Gosvami, Prathima C Nalam, Annemarie L Exarhos, Qizhan Tam, James M Kikkawa, Robert W Carpick.

Appl. Phys. Lett. 105, 093101 (2014)

 11. Stratified Polymer Grafts: Synthesis and Characterization of Layered ‘Brush’ and ‘Gel’ Structures.
Ang Li, Shivaprakash Ramakrishna, Prathima C. Nalam Edmondo M. Benetti and Nicholas D. Spencer
Advanced Materials Interfaces, 2014, 1 (1) 1300007.

10. Adhesion and Friction Properties of Polymer Brushes on Rough Surface: A Gradient Approach.
Shivaprakash Ramakrishna, Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal, Vikrant Naik, Prathima C. Nalam and Nicholas D. Spencer
Langmuir, 2013, 29 (49), pp 15251–15259

 9. Exploring lubrication regimes at nanoscales: Nano-tribological characterization of Silica and polymer brushes in viscous solvents.
Prathima C. Nalam, Shivaprakash Ramakrishna, Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal and Nicholas D. Spencer
Langmuir, 2013, 29 (32), pp 10149–10158.

8. Impact of solvation on equilibrium conformation of polymer brushes in solvent mixtures.
Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal*, Prathima C. Nalam*, Sreenath Bolishetty and Nicholas D. Spencer
Soft Matter, 2013, 9, 4045-4057 (* Co- First Author)

7. Two-Fluid Model for the Interpretation of Quartz Crystal Microbalance Response: Tuning Properties of Polymer Brushes with Solvent Mixtures.
Prathima C. Nalam,  Leonid Daikhin,  Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal,  Jarred Clasohm, Michael Urbakh and Nicholas D. Spencer.
J. Phys. Chem. C, 2013, 117 (9), pp 4533–4543

6. Study of adhesion and friction properties on a nanoparticle gradient surface: Transition from JKR to DMT contact mechanics.
Shivaprakash N. Ramakrishna , Prathima C. Nalam , Lucy Y. Clasohm and Nicholas D. Spencer.
Langmuir, 2013, 29 (1), pp 175–182.

5. The Impact of Hydrophilic/Hydrophobic Surface Chemistry on Hydration Forces in the Absence of Confinement.
Gillian B. Kaggwa, Prathima C. Nalam, Jason I. Kilpatrick, Nicholas D. Spencer and Suzanne P. Jarvis.
Langmuir, 2012, 28, 16, 6589–6594.

4. Macrotribological studies of Poly(L-lysine)-graft-Poly(ethylene glycol) in aqueous glycerol mixtures.
Prathima C. Nalam, Jarred N. Clasohm, Alireza Mashaghi, Nicholas D. Spencer.
Tribology Letters, 2010, 37, 541-552.

3. Wet-etching of precipitation-based thin film microstructures for micro-solid oxide fuel cells.
Jennifer L.M. Rupp, Ulrich P. Muecke, Prathima C. Nalam, Ludwig J. Gauckler.
Journal of Power Sources, 2010, 195, 2669–2676.

2. Dry sliding tribology of dioctylthiophosphoric acid self assembled on steel at 150oC.
Prathima C. Nalam, R. Sarin and S.K. Biswas.
Tribology Letters2006, 23.

1. A Thermal Study of accumulation of conformational disorders in the self-assembled monolayers of C8 and C18 alkanethiols on Au (111) surface.
Prathima N., Harini M., Neeraj Rai, Chandrasekhar R.H., Sampath S., Ayappa. K.G., Biswas S.K.
Langmuir2005, 21, 2364-2374.



SNSF Fellowship for Prospective Researchers

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) fellowship for the best prospective researchers to conduct post-doctoral program, 2012-2013.

Young Researcher Award

For the best technical talk on “Solvation Studies and its Influence on Frictional Properties of Polymer Brushes in Aqueous – Based Mixed Solvents” ASIATRIB, Perth, Australia, 2010.

Best Poster Award

For presenting  “Preparation and Characterization of two-dimensional gradients: A Combinatorial Approach.” International Nanotribology Forum (INF), The Hoi An Discussions, Hoi An, Vietnam, 2007.

Best Poster Award

For presenting “Thermal Stability of Self Assembled monolayers of short chain alkane thiols on Au (111).” International Nanotribology Forum (INF), NANOSIKKIM II, Sikkim, 2004.