Daniel Lacks, PhD

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Case School of Engineering
C. Benson Branch Professor of Chemical Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering
Case School of Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering
Case School of Engineering

Research Information

Research Interests

1. Molecular simulation of materials. We model materials at the molecular level so that the properties of the material can be predicted from first principles – i.e., without relying on experimental data. In these studies, large scale computer simulations are carried out to determine the dynamic trajectories of the constituent atoms, and from these trajectories the properties of the material are derived using statistical mechanics. Our focus is on the deformation and flow properties of disordered systems, including liquids, glassy solids, and biological systems such as proteins.

2. Triboelectric charging. Rubbing two surfaces can generate electrostatic charges on the surfaces. For example, this charging often occurs when you walk across a rug – and you find out about it when you touch a doorknob and feel the shock. While this triboelectric charging is very common, and can have important consequences in many diverse settings, it is surprising that the fundamental physics that underlie the charging is not well understood. We are studying this phenomenon with a combined experimental and theoretical approach.


  • Heinert, C., Sankaran, R. M., Lacks, D. J., “Electrostatic charge generation on material surfaces from the evaporation of liquids”, J. Electrostat. 105, 103450 (2020).
  • Lesher, C. E., Dannberg, J., Barfod, G. H., Bennett, N. R., Glessner, J. J. G., Lacks, D. J., Brenan, J. M., “Iron isotope fractionation at the core-mantle boundary by thermodiffusion”, Nature Geoscience 13, 382 (2020).
  • Toth, J. R., Rajupet, S., Squire, H., Volbers, B., Zhou, J., Xie, L., Sankaran, R. M., Lacks, D. J., “Electrostatic forces alter particle size distributions in atmospheric dust”, Atmos. Chem. Phys. 20, 3181 (2020).
  • Lacks, D. J., Shinbrot, T., “Longstanding and unresolved issues in triboelectric charging”, Nature Reviews Chemistry 3, 465 (2019).
  • Gil, P.S, Lacks, D. J., “Humidity Transforms Immobile Surface Charges into Mobile Charges during Triboelectric Charging”, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 21, 13821 (2019).
  • Gil, P.S., Lacks, D. J., Parisse, P., Casalis, L., Nkoua Ngavouka, M. D., “Single-stranded DNA oligomer brush structure is dominated by intramolecular interactions mediated by the ion environment”, Soft Matter 14, 9675 (2018).


Bachelor of Science
Chemical Engineering
Cornell University
Harvard University