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Briber, Robert M.

Briber, Robert M.
Associate Dean for Research, A. James Clark School of Engineering
Fellow, APS
Fellow, NSSA
1109 Chemical and Nuclear Eng. Bldg. / 3110B Kim Eng. Bldg.

News About This Professor


Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1984

Research Interests 

X-ray and neutron scattering, thermodynamics, structure of polymers.


Current Research Projects 

Synthesis and Characterization of Structured Hydrogels

Charged polymers (polyelectrolytes) and surfactant systems can have strong associations due to coulombic interactions and have been shown to form complex structures. We are extending these systems to hydrogels, where the polymer is crosslinked in the presence of an ordered surfactant system to form a structured hydrogel.

Data Analysis and Modeling of Off Specular Neutron Reflectivity

Specular neutron reflectivity is a powerful characterization tool for studying the structure of thin films in the film normal direction. Off specular reflectivity has the potential to extend the analysis to structure in the x-y plane of the film, but has been hampered by lack of suitable data analysis and modeling tools. We are working the NIST Center for Neutron Research to develop such tools and establish principles for analyzing such data using model systems.

Synthesis and Characterization of Nanocomposites with Improved Flammability

Polymer nanocomposites formed from layered silicates have been shown to have improved mechanical properties silicate is distributed in an exfoliated or intercalated morphology. We are working with collaborators in both the Fire Protection Engineering Department at the University of Maryland and the Fire Research Division at NIST to synthesis and characterize polymer nanocomposites with improved flammability.

Structure of Nanoporous Low K Dielectric Materials

We are working with IBM on the characterization of nanoporous films of spin on glass materials where the nanoporosity is formed by mixing the spin-on glass with a polymer prior to cure. During the high temperature cure of the spin-on glass the polymer degrades resulting in a nanoporous morphology to the thin film.

Folding of RNA

RNAs perform many biological functions by folding into specific three-dimensional structures. Understanding how RNAs fold is crucial for understanding the assembly of RNA-protein complexes such as the ribosome, the regulation of gene expression by RNA, and the engineering of RNA sensors and "riboswitches". In the presence of counterions, RNAs collapse into compact intermediates, which subsequently fold into the native tertiary structure. We are addressing these questions using X-ray and neutron scattering to address the structure, kinetics and dynamics of the RNA folding process.


Professor Briber teaches a range of classes at both the undergraduate and graduate level. At the undergraduate level he has taught:

  • ENES 100: Introduction to Engineering Design
  • ENMA 150: Materials of Civilization
    This is a University of Maryland Marquee Science and Technology Course designed for non-science majors. See for more information.
  • ENMA 300: Introduction to Materials and Their Applications
  • ENMA 423: Manufacturing with Polymers

At the graduate level, Dr. Briber has taught:

  • ENMA 620: Polymer Physics (MSE Graduate Program core course)
  • ENMA 661: Kinetics of Reactions in Materials (MSE Graduate Program core course)

Honors and Awards 

  • American Physical Society, Fellow (elected 1995)
  • Department of Commerce Bronze Medal, December 1990
  • Electron Microscope Society of America Presidential Student Scholarship, 1982
  • Editor, Journal of Polymer Science—Polymer Physics Edition (1/99-01/07)

Professional Memberships 

Professional Elected Offices
  • Neutron Scattering Society of America, President 2002-2005
  • Neutron Scattering Society of America, vice president 1999-2002
  • Member-at-Large to the Executive Committee of the Division of Polymer Physics, American Physical Society, 1999-2002
Professional Memberships
  • American Physical Society (Fellow)
  • Neutron Scattering Society of America
  • Materials Research Society
  • American Chemical Society
  • Biophysical Society
Professional Committee Memberships
  • NIST Center for Neutron Research Program Advisory Committee, member 1999 to 2004
  • University of Chicago Review Committee for the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source at Argonne National Laboratory 1997, 1999, 2001
  • Large Length Scales Working Group, Spallation Neutron Source, Oak Ridge National Lab, Dept. of Energy, November 1998
  • Basic Energy Science Advisory Committee Review of the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Lab, October 1998
  • Scheduling Committee, American Physical Society, Division of High Polymer Physics March Meeting, 1994-1998
  • Los Alamos—Argonne National Laboratory Pulsed Neutron Source Program Advisory Committee 1993-1997 (Chair 1996-97)
  • Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Research Award Committee, 1994-1997
  • American Physical Society Division of High Polymer Physics Nominations Committee
  • NASA Microgravity Research Review Panel for Polymers, 1995, 1997

Selected Publications 

B. Cipriano, S. Banik, R. Sharma, D. Rumore, W. Hwang, R.M. Briber, S. Raghavan, “Superabsorbent Hydrogels that are Robust and Highly Stretchable”, Macromolecules, 2014, (47)13, 4445-4452, DOI 10.1021/ma500882n

Ruiliang Bai, Peter J.  Basser, R.M. Briber and Ferenc Horkay, “NMR Water Self–Diffusion and Relaxation Studies on Sodium Polyacrylate Solutions and Gels in Physiologic Ionic Solutions”, J. of Applied Polymer Science 2014, 131(6), DOI: 10.1002/app.40001

Bergstrom, R., Jr.; Wuttig, M.; Cullen, J.; Zavalij, P.; Briber, R.; Dennis, C.; Garlea, V. O.; Laver, M., "Morphotropic Phase Boundaries in Ferromagnets: Tb1-XDyX Fe2 Alloys", Physical Review Letters 2013, 111, (1), 017203 DOI:   10.1103

J. Duncan Kilburn, Joon Ho Roh, Behrouzi, Reza, R.M. Briber, Sarah A. Woodson, “Crowders perturb the entropy of RNA energy landscapes to favor folding”, JACS 2013, 135, 10055

Ayyub, O. B.; Ibrahim, M. B.; Briber, R. M.; Kofinas, P., "Self-Assembled Block Copolymer Photonic Crystal for Selective Fructose Detection", Biosens Bioelectron 2013, 46, 124-129, DOI 10.1016/J.Bios.2013.02.025.

Wonjoo Lee, Seung Yong Lee, X. Zhang, R.M. Briber and Oded Rabin “Hexagonally ordered nanoparticles templated using a block copolymer film”, Nanotechnology, 2013, 24, 045305

B.J. Watson, B. Hammouda, R.M. Briber, and S.W. Hutcheson; “Influence of Organic Liquids on the Nanostructure of Precipitated Cellulose”, J. of Applied Polym. Sci. 2013, 127(4), 2620-2627 DOI:  10.1002/app.37540

Wonjoo Lee, Peter Kofinas, R.M. Briber; “Structure investigation of poly((2-dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate)/sodium dodecylsulfate complexes in concentrated poly((2-dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) solutions using small angle neutron scattering”, Polymer, 2012, 53(14), 2942-2948 DOI: 10.1016/j.polymer.2012.04.052

Zhang, X.; Sushkov, A. B.; Metting, C. J.; Fackler, S.; Drew, H. D.; Briber, R. M., "Silicon Patterning Using Self-Assembled Ps-B-Paa Diblock Copolymer Masks for Black Silicon Fabrication Via Plasma Etching", Plasma Processes and Polymers 2012, 9 (10), 968-974, Doi 10.1002/Ppap.201100198.

Reza Behrouzi, Joon Ho Roh, Duncan Kilburn, R. M. Briber, Sarah A. Woodson, “Native architecture encodes cooperativity and specificity in RNA folding intermediates”, Cell 2012, 149, 348–357 

Sangcheol Kim, Jack F. Douglas, Christopher L. Soles, Alamgir Karim, and R. M. Briber; “Using Block Copolymer Self-Assembly to Imprint the Crystallization of Polymer Dendrites”, Soft Matter, 2011, 7, 8969-8976. DOI: 10.1039/C1SM05768E

Lee, W., Zhang, X., & Briber, R.M., A simple method for creating nanoporous block-copolymer thin films. Polymer 51 (11), 2376-2382 (2010).

Khodadadi, S. et al., Dynamics of Biological Macromolecules: Not a Simple Slaving by Hydration Water. Biophysical Journal 98 (7), 1321-1326 (2010).

Roh, J.H. et al., Dynamics of tRNA at Different Levels of Hydration. Biophysical Journal 96 (7), 2755-2762 (2009).

Ren, S.Q., Briber, R.M., & Wuttig, M., Self-organized two-dimensional onions (vol 94, 113507, 2009). Applied Physics Letters 94 (25) (2009).

Ren, S.Q., Briber, R.M., & Wuttig, M., Self-organized two-dimensional onions. Applied Physics Letters 94 (11) (2009).

Moghaddam, S. et al., Metal Ion Dependence of Cooperative Collapse Transitions in RNA. Journal of Molecular Biology 393 (3), 753-764 (2009).

Dandu, R. et al., Silk-elastinlike protein polymer hydrogels: Influence of monomer sequence on physicochemical properties. Polymer 50 (2), 366-374 (2009).

Akcora, P., Briber, R.M., & Kofinas, P., Oxidation effect on templating of metal oxide nanoparticles within block copolymers. Polymer 50 (5), 1223-1227 (2009).

Yun, S.I. et al., Conformation of arborescent polymers in solution by small-angle neutron scattering: Segment density and core-shell morphology. Macromolecules 41 (1), 175-183 (2008).

Ren, S.Q., Briber, R.M., & Wuttig, M., Diblock copolymer based self-assembled nanomagnetoelectric. Applied Physics Letters 93 (17) (2008).

Woodson, S.A. et al., SAXS studies of RNA folding show a dependence on counterion charge density. Biophysical Journal, 48A-48A (2007).

Kim, S., Briber, R.M., Karim, A., Jones, R.L., & Kim, H.C., Environment-controlled spin coating to rapidly orient microdomains in thin block copolymer films. Macromolecules 40 (12), 4102-4105 (2007).

Yun, S.I., Briber, R.M., Kee, R.A., & Gauthier, M., Dilute-solution structure of charged arborescent graft polymer. Polymer 47 (8), 2750-2759 (2006).

Jones, R., Kim, S., Karim, A., Briber, R.M., & Kim, H.C., Orientation of block copolymer phases within confined environments. Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society 231 (2006).

Caliskan, G. et al., Dynamic transition in tRNA is solvent induced. Journal of the American Chemical Society 128 (1), 32-33 (2006).

Akcora, P., Briber, R.M., & Kofinas, P., TEM characterization of diblock copolymer templated iron oxide nanoparticles: Bulk solution and thin film surface doping approach. Polymer 47 (6), 2018-2022 (2006).

Zhang, X., Briber, R.M., & Kashiwagi, T., Molecular weight and filler dispersion on the flammability of PMMA/layered silicate nanocomposites. Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society 230, U3666-U3667 (2005).

Magbitang, T. et al., Templating organosilicate vitrification using unimolecular self-organizing polymers: Evolution of morphology and nanoporosity development with network formation. Advanced Materials 17 (8), 1031-+ (2005).

Lazzeri, P. et al., Thin-film transformations and volatile products in the formation of nanoporous low-k polymethylsilsesquioxane-based dielectric. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B 23 (3), 908-917 (2005).

Chauhan, S. et al., RNA tertiary interactions mediate native collapse of a bacterial group I ribozyme. Journal of Molecular Biology 353 (5), 1199-1209 (2005).

Caliskan, G. et al., Persistence length changes dramatically as RNA folds. Physical Review Letters 95 (26), - (2005).

Akcora, P., Zhang, X., Varughese, B., Briber, R.M., & Kofinas, P., Structural and magnetic characterization of norbornene-deuterated norbornene dicarboxylic acid diblock copolymers doped with iron oxide nanoparticles. Polymer 46 (14), 5194-5201 (2005).

Akcora, P., Briber, R.M., & Kofinas, P., Incorporation of iron oxide nanoparticles into microphase separated poly(norbornene)-block-poly(deuterated norbornene dicarboxylic acid) diblock copolymers. Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society 230, U3725-U3726 (2005).

Zhang, X., Briber, R.M., & Kashiwagi, T., Microstructure and flammability of PMMA/layered silicate nanocomposite. Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society 228, U423-U423 (2004).

Voge, G., Fosser, K., Waldow, D., Briber, R., & Halasa, A., Effect of random and block copolymer additives on a homopolymer blend studied by small-angle neutron scattering. Journal of Polymer Science Part B-Polymer Physics 42 (17), 3191-3203 (2004).

Perez-Salas, U.A. et al., Compaction of a bacterial group I ribozyme coincides with the assembly of core helices. Biochemistry 43 (6), 1746-1753 (2004).

McDermott, M.K. et al., Mechanical properties of polyurethane film exposed to solutions of nonoxynol-9 surfactant and poly(ethylene glycol). Journal of Applied Polymer Science 91 (2), 1086-1096 (2004).

Lazzeri, P. et al., ToF-SIMS studies of nanoporous PMSSQ materials: kinetics and reactions in the processing of low-K dielectrics for ULSI applications. Surface and Interface Analysis 36 (4), 304-310 (2004).

Kim, H.C. et al., Effect of molecular architecture of sacrificial porogens on the pore structures of nanoporous organosilicates: A small angle scattering. Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society 227, U554-U554 (2004).

Kashiwagi, T. et al., Flame retardant mechanism of polyamide 6-clay nanocomposites. Polymer 45 (3), 881-891 (2004).

Jones, R.L., Indrakanti, A., Briber, R.M., Muller, M., & Kumar, S.K., Phase behavior of ultrathin polymer mixtures. Macromolecules 37 (18), 6676-6679 (2004).

Zhang, X., Briber, R.M., Kashiwagi, T., & Harris, R.H., Characterization of changes in the clay platelet distribution in polyamide 6/Clay nanocomposites during combustion by TEM and x-ray diffraction. Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society 226, U526-U526 (2003).

Yun, S.I., Briber, R.M., Kee, R.A., & Gauthier, M., Small-angle neutron scattering of arborescent polystyrene-graft-poly(2-vinylpyridine) copolymers. Polymer 44 (21), 6579-6587 (2003).

Perez-Salas, U., Briber, R.M., Rafailovich, M.H., & Sokolov, J., Interfacial fracture toughness between glassy polymer networks. Journal of Polymer Science Part B-Polymer Physics 41 (16), 1902-1908 (2003).

Kim, H.C. et al., Neutron reflectivity on nanoporous poly(methylsilsesquioxane) thin films. Chemistry of Materials 15 (3), 609-611 (2003).

Feng, H.X., Briber, R.M., Lee, V.Y., Miller, R., & Kim, H.C., Supression of dewetting in polystyrene thin films using nanoparticles. Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society 226, U519-U519 (2003).

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Participants included researchers from 10 colleges and 15 research centers. April 12, 2017

MSE Research Team Wins Seed Grant Funding for Novel Sensor Technology
Drs. Oded Rabin, Robert Briber and Xin Zhang will utilize funding to develop fiber-optic sensor. December 12, 2016

Prof. Ray Phaneuf Appointed Acting Chair of Materials Science and Engineering
Professor Robert M. Briber named Clark School Associate Dean for Research. July 1, 2015

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Exceptional students recognized at annual ceremony. April 10, 2014

Nanopaper Featured in Nature Photonics News & Views
Article highlights Hu Group’s recent paper in Nano Letters. March 26, 2014

Briber Elected Fellow of the Neutron Scattering Society of America
Professor recognized for research and service. February 5, 2014

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Cumings Promoted
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Student will represent department in college-level competition. April 30, 2012

2011-2012 MSE Undergraduate Awards
Exceptional students recognized by the Department, Clark School, and professional societies. April 20, 2012

Hogg Wins Postdoc Poster Symposium
NIST-ARRA fellow recognized for work on using noise to learn more about true signals. April 12, 2012

Kozen Selected for Future Faculty Program
Graduate student joins highly selective cohort. February 10, 2012

Briber Named 2012-2013 Distinguished Scholar-Teacher
Professor recognized for efforts to promote science and engineering education at all levels. February 10, 2012

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2010-2011 MSE Undergraduate Awards
Students recognized at annual Clark School event. April 20, 2011

Briber Marquee Lecture: "Materials of Civilization"
Talks promote public awareness of science's role in society. March 18, 2011

Shih Wins NIST-ARRA Fellowship
Grad student studies polymer/nanoparticle system for potential use in biomedical applications. December 6, 2010

Takeuchi Elected APS Fellow
Cited for pioneering work in combinatorial materials science. December 3, 2010

UMD Hosts Ionizing Radiation and Polymers Symposium
Event chaired by MSE Professor Mohamad Al-Sheikhly. November 4, 2010

$15M Neutron Scattering Collaboration with NIST Renewed
Briber leads effort to develop new instrumentation, measurement techniques. September 9, 2010

Metting and Hsieh Take 2nd, 3rd in ACNS Poster Competition
Graduate students' work recognized at 2010 American Conference on Neutron Scattering. July 7, 2010

First Measurement Science Fellowship Positions Announced
New program funded by $15.5 million award from NIST. May 7, 2010

NIST Awards UM $15.5 Million in Fellowships
Program to benefit Clark School undergraduate and graduate students, research programs. May 5, 2010

2009-2010 MSE Undergraduate Awards
Students recognized at annual Clark School event. April 28, 2010

Biofuel Technologies Featured on CBS News
Segment highlights poplar research, Zymetis' cellulose-digesting bacterium. April 21, 2010

Briber, Watson Receive MIPS Funding for Work with Zymetis
Program awards over $100K to further development of solvent used in biofuel production. April 19, 2010

Briber, Oehrlein Courses Selected for I-Series
Faculty bring innovative science education to non-majors. March 8, 2010

Oehrlein, Arsenault Highly Cited Worldwide
Professors featured on Thomson Reuters' February 22, 2010

Non-Majors Delve Into Materials Science
Marquee Course demonstrates how materials science has shaped civilization. December 10, 2009

5 Professors Named 2009 Research Leaders
Faculty honored by university for bringing substantial sponsored research funds to campus. October 15, 2009

MSE Affiliate, Collaborator Named Director of ISR
Ghodssi to take office October 1. September 22, 2009

2008-2009 MSE Undergraduate Awards
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Ren Wins Dean's Doctoral Research Award
Grad student takes 1st place and $1500 prize. May 6, 2009

Ren Wins Inaugural MSE Doctoral Thesis Award
Student recognized for research in multiferroic nanocomposite materials. April 28, 2009

Materials and Interface Nanotechnology Laboratory Opens
Research will include work on nanoparticles, nanowires. November 20, 2008

6 Professors Named 2008 Research Leaders
Briber, Phaneuf, Rabin, Rubloff, Takeuchi and Wuttig honored at luncheon. October 22, 2008

Shin Selected for National School on Neutron, X-ray Scattering
Grad student will attend 2-week program at Argonne, Oak Ridge. September 24, 2008

Briber Re-Appointed MSE Chair
2nd term begins July 1. June 9, 2008

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Covers past, present and future of soft matter and neutron scattering. May 15, 2008

Bruce to Attend NSF Program in Australia
Program fosters collaborations, provides project leadership training. May 9, 2008

Open House Attracts Prospective Students, MSE Majors
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MSE recognizes Tapp, Senagore and Heikes. April 14, 2008

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Graduate Society Receives MRS Charter
Group recognized at Fall Meeting. December 6, 2007

NSF Boosts Nanotech Curriculum
MSE, ME faculty and staff develop new lessons, teaching lab. November 1, 2007

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New Hydrogen Storage Materials to Fuel Next-Generation Vehicles
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Briber Teaches New "Marquee Course"
Course examines how new materials have shaped history. September 19, 2007

MSE Undergraduates Honored
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5 MSE Professors Recognized for Sponsored Research
Briber, Oehrlein, Phaneuf, Rubloff, and Wuttig honored at luncheon. November 28, 2006

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MSE Professor and Chair will subcontract for CalTech. October 25, 2006

Polymer Symposium Showcases Student Research
Event promotes interaction between research groups. July 7, 2006

NanoCenter Funding Means Major Advances for MSE Department
New equipment and expanded capabilities to come. June 22, 2006

Briber Co-authors Paper on RNA Folding
Physical Review Letters publishes collaborative work. June 1, 2006

Graduate Students Attend National and International Workshops
Students focus on transmission electron microscopy and neutron scattering in Chile and New Mexico. June 1, 2006

New Chair for Materials Science and Engineering
Professor Robert M. Briber will assume the position of chair of the materials science and engineering department, effective July 1, 2003. June 10, 2003