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Prof. Munir Nayfeh


Prof. Munir Nayfeh born in 1946 received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the American University of Beirut in 1968, and 1970, respectively. He earned a PhD in physics from Stanford University in 1974. He served as a postdoctoral fellow and research physicist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 1974-1977, and as a lecturer at Yale University in 1977, before joining the physics faculty at the University of Illinois in 1978.

Following his arrival at the UIUC, Professor Nayfeh developed an active experimental program to study the multi-photon (nonlinear) dissociation of molecules as a means to enhance dissociation selectivity. He was the first to demonstrate isotope separation using this process. He was also the first physicist to examine the behaviour of hydrogen molecules in intense laser fields, and his seminal work in this area initiated a whole new area of research in molecular Coulomb explosions.

In the past few years, Professor Nayfeh has pursued two separate lines of research: (1) A theoretical program focusing on the role of classical chaotic dynamics in hydrogen atoms rendered essentially one-dimensional in the presence of very strong dc electrical fields; and (2) An experimental program he has termed “writing with atoms,” in which the spatial selectivity of the electric field in a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM) is combined with the frequency (energy) selectivity of a laser to deposit fine patterns with nearly atomic resolution on a variety of substrates at room temperature. Dr. Nayfeh was solely responsible for the conception and development of this innovative technique.

Most recently, Prof. Nayfeh has investigated the fabrication and the analysis of nanometer-scale structures by employing STM to study hysteresis effects in the formation of matter. This work provides physical insights on the fundamental nature and interactions of solids at nanometer/atomic scales, and it has significant implications for near-term technological applications in nanoelectronics and photonics.

As an expatriate scientist, Prof. Nayfeh has been energetically involved in a number of research projects in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and has made a serious effort to transfer his wide international experience to the countries of the region.
He is a prolific researcher, educator, science communicator.

Munir Nayfeh is an atomic physicist renowned for his groundbreaking work in nanotechnology, and is currently a professor at University of Illinois. He co-authored Electricity and Magnetism (also translated into Farsi), co-edited three books on lasers, and is the author of an upcoming book on silicon nanotechnology. He presents science-fiction, using the trademark “Dr. Nano,” to simplify nanotechnology for children.

Dr. Nayfeh has developed breakthrough imprints by developing writing with single atoms. He has made silicon (the dullest material and backbone of the electronics industry) glow by dispersing it into ultra-bright nanoparticles. This enables advanced low-cost devices for use in poor and remote areas, with diverse applications from solar energy and lighting to early detection/treatment of acute disease.

Dr. Nayfeh holds the largest number of patents in nanosilicon worldwide (23 US). He founded three companies – NanoSi Advanced Technologies, Nano Silicon Solar, and Parasat-Nanosi (Kazakhstan) – and is an IAS fellow, and has been president of the Network of Arab Scientists and Technologists Abroad, with the mission to accelerate strategies and technology development in Arab and OIC countries. He received the Beckman, AT&T, Industrial 100, and Energy 100 Awards.

He was elected a Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences in 2009.