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Olin Hall, 219
Phone: +1-508-831-5365
Fax: +1-508-831-5886

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Nancy A. Burnham

Nancy Burnham graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1987 with a PhD in Physics. Her dissertation concerned the surface analysis of photovoltaic materials. As a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory, she became interested in scanning probe microscopy, in particular its application to detecting material properties at the nanoscale. She spent nine years abroad pursuing the mechanical properties of nanostructures and instrumentation for nanomechanics.

She became an Associate Professor of Physics at WPI in January of 2000 where she teaches several undergraduate and graduate courses. Her research interests lie in the direction of nanoscience and engineering. She offers an undergraduate and graduate course in Atomic Force Microscopy, an important technique in this burgeoning interdisciplinary field, for which she is writing a book. Additionally, she organized the Minor in Nanoscience program at WPI.

Nancy Burnham has been an invited, tutorial, or plenary speaker at over 40 conferences, author or co-author of over 70 publications with over 7800 citations (h-index 31); she is as well active in professional societies as, e.g., Secretary of the Nanometer Structures Committee of the IUVSTA and Treasurer of the Nanoscience and Technology Division of the AVS. She was the recipient of the 2001 Nanotechnology Recognition Award from the latter organization, was a 2002 Institute of Physics of Ireland Lecturer, and became a Fellow of the AVS in 2010. Two of her articles were featured among the 25 highlighted publications for the 25th anniversary of the journal Nanotechnology in 2014, out of nearly 12,000. See news release for more information.

View Professor Burnham's real-time citation index.

Research Interests

  • Mechanical properties of nanostructures
  • Interpretation of probe microscopy data
  • Instrumentation and metrology for nanomechanics


  • BA Colgate University 1980
  • MS University of Colorado 1985
  • PhD University of Colorado 1987

Featured Publications

Professional Highlights

  • National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Alexander von Humboldt Fellow
  • Nanotechnology Recognition Award
  • Institute of Physics of Ireland Lecturer
  • Fellow of the AVS
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