Steven K. Buratto

Department Chair

Contact Phone

(805) 893-3393

Office Location

Chem 4148B



Dr. Buratto obtained his B.S. from the University of Puget Sound and his Ph.D. in 1992 from CalTech. He was a postdoctoral at the AT&T bell Laboratories for two years before joining the UCSB faculty in 1994. Since coming to UCSB, Dr. Buratto has received a Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award as well as a NSF Early Career Development Award.


Research Group Website:

General Research Areas:

Physical Chemistry

Energy, Catalysis & Green Chemistry

Devices, Assembly & Nanochemistry

Structural Chemistry, Spectroscopy & Advanced Analysis

Current Research

Through recent advances in near-field optics, optical microscopy and optical spectroscopy are possible with unprecedented spatial resolution (of the order of 10nm) and single molecule sensitivity. In my research we apply near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) and near-field optical spectroscopy (NFOS) to the study of thin films and surfaces on a nanoscopic scale (10nm to 100nm), a regime where many interesting chemical and physical properties are defined. To probe local structure and dynamics, a variety of steady-state and time-resolved spectroscopic techniques will be developed for use with NFOS including: absorption and emission spectroscopies, photoconductivity, linear and circular dichroism, excitation lifetime, pump-probe experiments, second harmonic generation, and optical detection of magnetic resonance (electron spin resonance and nuclear magnetic resonance). The materials studied include self-assembled monolayers, conducting polymers, inorganic semiconductors and biological membranes. The common thread in these materials is the importance of the local structure (and the surface) on the physical properties.

In organic self-assembled monolayer systems developed for nonlinear optics applications, NFOS is used to monitor layer growth. Beginning with very dilute coverage (well separated molecules), the influence of the substrate surface on single chromophore molecules in the monolayer can be determined. This data will provide insight into the chromophore-surface bond. By increasing surface coverage it is also possible to monitor development of local order and disorder in the monolayer and their effect on its static and dynamic properties.

In conducting polymer films used for light emitting diodes (LED's), NFOS explores local order and disorder in the film and its effect on carrier generation, transport and lifetime. The movement of charge carriers in these systems is an important process in light emission and is very sensitive to the local environment. In addition, it is also possible to image a working LED and provide insights into the spatial dependence of the emission. This type of data will have direct implication on the performance of the device.


Selected Research Publications

O’Dea, J. R.; Buratto, S. K. Phase Imaging of Proton Exchange Membranes under Attractive and Repulsive Tip− Sample Interaction Forces. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B 2011, 15, 1014–1020.

Price, S. P.; Tong, X.; Ridge, C.; Shapovalov, V.; Hu, Z.; Kemper, P.; Metiu, H.; Bowers, M. T.; Buratto, S. K. STM characterization of size-selected V-1, V-2, VO and VO2 clusters on a   TiO2 (110)-(1 x 1) surface at room temperature. Surf. Sci. 2011, 605, 972–976.

Buratto, S. K. Fuel cells: Engineering the next generation. Nat Nano 2010, 5, 176.

Investigation of the enhanced signals from cations and dopamine in electrochemical sensors coated with Nafion. J. Electroanal. Chem. (Switzerland) 2009, 632, 97–101101.

Bussian, D.A.; O'Dea, J.R.; Metiu, H.; Buratto, S.K., "Nanoscale Current Imaging of the Conducting Channels in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells." Nanoletters; 2007, 2, (7), 227-232.

Gargas, D. J.; Muresan, O.; Sirbuly, D. J.; Buratto, S. K., "Micropatterned porous-silicon Bragg mirrors by dry-removal soft lithography." Advanced Materials; 2006, 18, (23), 3164-3168.

Kemper, P.; Kolmakov, A.; Tong, X.; Lilach, Y.; Benz, L.; Manard, M.; Metiu, H.; Buratto, S. K.; Bowers, M. T., "Formation, deposition and examination of size selected metal clusters on semiconductor surfaces: An experimental setup." International Journal of Mass Spectrometry; 2006, 254, (3), 202-209.

Ostrowski, J. C.; Mikhailovsky, A.; Bussian, D. A.; Summers, M. A.; Buratto, S. K.; Bazan, G. C., "Enhancement of phosphorescence by surface-plasmon resonances in colloidal metal nanoparticles: The role of aggregates." Advanced Functional Materials; 2006, 16, (9), 1221-1227.

Chou, J.; Jayaraman, S.; Ranasinghe, A. D.; McFarland, E. W.; Buratto, S. K.; Metiu, H., "Efficient electrocatalyst utilization: Electrochemical deposition of Pt nanoparticles using nafion membrane as a template." Journal of Physical Chemistry B; 2006, 110, (14), 7119-7121.