Michael D. Ward

Professor of Chemistry; Director, Molecular Design Institute; Editor, Chemistry of Materials
B.S., William Paterson College of New Jersey; Ph.D., Princeton University; Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Texas at Austin

Phone: 212-998-8439
Office: Brown Building, 29 Washington Place, Room 554
Lab Homepage

Areas of Research/Interest
Materials and solid-state chemistry, supramolecular chemistry and self-assembly, interfacial chemistry, crystallization, atomic force microscopy, electrochemistry


The Materials Science of Pathological Crystals, L. N. Poloni, M. D. Ward, Chem. Mater. 2014, 26, 477–495.

Illusory spirals and loops in crystal growth. A. G. Shtukenberg1, Z. Zhu, Z. An, M. Bhandari, P. Song, B. Kahr, M. D. Ward, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2013, 110, 17195.

Isolation and Stabilization of a Pheromone in Crystalline Molecular Capsules. W. Xiao, C. Hu, M. D. Ward, Cryst. Growth. Des. 2013, 13, 3197.

Stereochemical Control of Polymorph Transitions in Nanoscale Reactors, Q. Jiang, C. Hu, and M. D. Ward, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 2144.

Biomimetic Peptoid Oligomers as Dual-Action Antifreeze Agents, M. L. Huang, D. Ehre, Q. Jiang, C. Hu, K. Kirshenbaum, M. D. Ward, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2012, 109, 19922.

Manipulating Crystal Growth and Polymorphism by Confinement in Nanoscale Crystallization Chambers, J-M. Ha, B. D. Hamilton, M. A. Hillmyer, M. D. Ward, Acc. Chem. Res. 2012, 45, 414.

Anti-Counterfeit Protection of Pharmaceutical Products with Spatial Mapping of X-Ray Detectable Barcodes and Logos, D. Musumeci, C. Hu, M. D. Ward, Anal. Chem. 2011, 83, 7444.

Persistent Molecular Archimedean Cages Assembled with 72 Hydrogen Bonds, Y. Liu, A. Comotti, C. Hu, M. D. Ward, Science 2011, 333, 436.

Controlled Orientation of Polyconjugated Guest Molecules in Tunable Host Cavities, A. C. Soegiarto, A. Comotti, M. D. Ward, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 14603.

Crystal Growth Inhibitors for the Prevention of L-Cystine Kidney Stones through Molecular Design, J. D. Rimer, Z. An, Z. Zhu, M. H. Lee, D. S. Goldfarb, J. A. Wesson, M. D. Ward, Science 2010, 330, 337.

Hydrogen-Bonded Monolayers and Interdigitated Multilayers at the Air-Water Interface, S. A. Martin, K. Kjaer, M. J Weygand, I. Weissbuch, and M. D. Ward, J. Phys. Chem. B, 2006, 110, 14292.

Directing Assembly of Molecular Crystals, M. D. Ward, MRS Bulletin Special Issue: Self-assembly in Materials Synthesis, 2005, 30, 705.

Design of crystalline molecular networks with charge-assisted hydrogen bonds, M. D. Ward, Chem. Comm., Focus article, 40th  anniversary commemoration, 2005, 5838.

Chiral Discrimination in Low-density Hydrogen Bonded Frameworks, R. Custelcean and M. D. Ward, Cryst. Growth. Des. 2005, 5, 2277.

Crystal surface adhesion explains the pathological activity of calcium oxalate hydrates in kidney stone formation, X. Sheng, J. A. Wesson, and M. D. Ward, J. Amer. Soc. Nephrol. 2005, 16, 1904.

Translational Design and Bimodal Assembly of Charge-assisted Hydrogen-bonded Networks, D. Shacklady, S.-O. Lee, S. Ferlay, M. W. Hosseini, and M. D. Ward, Cryst. Growth. Des. 2005, 5, 995.

Lyotropic Phases Reinforced by Hydrogen Bonding, S. M. Martin and M. D. Ward, Langmuir, 2005, 21, 5324.

Structure and Rheology of Hydrogen-bond Reinforced Smectic Liquid Crystals, S. M. Martin, Y. Yonezawa, M. J. Horner, C. W. Macosko, and M. D. Ward, Chem. Mater.2004, 16, 3045.

Regulating Polymorph Selectivity Through Confined Crystallization in Nanopores, J.-M. Ha, J. H. Wolf, M. A. Hillmyer, and M. D. Ward, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2004, 126, 3382.

Probing Crystallization of Calcium Oxalate Monohydrate and the Role of Macromolecule Additives with in situ Atomic Force Microscopy, T. Jung, X. Sheng, C. K. Choi, W.-S. Kim, J. A. Wesson,and M. D. Ward, Langmuir, 2004, 20, 8587.

Two-Dimensional Host-Guest Inclusion Crystals at the Air-Water Interface, D. J. Plaut, S. M. Martin, K. Kjaer, M. J. Weygand , M. Lahav, L. Leiserowitz, I. Weissbuch and M. D. Ward, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2003, 125, 15922.

Engineering Space Group Symmetry and Polar Order in Molecular Host Frameworks, K. T. Holman, A. M. Pivovar, M. D. Ward, Science 2001, 294, 1907.


A principal area of research in our group is the design and synthesis of crystalline molecular materials in which the constituents are held together in a lattice by weak, and typically unpredictable, intermolecular interactions. Our goal is to develop and use design principles, based on these interactions, which can be used to direct molecular assembly of molecules into solid-state structures endowed with unique properties, ranging from electronic conductivity to second harmonic generation to high-selectivity enantioselective separations. Our approach relies on the rational adjustment of solid-state structure and properties by deploying the versatility of organic synthesis, sometimes described as “crystal engineering.” For example, recent efforts in our group have led to the discovery of a novel class of porous molecular frameworks, held together by hydrogen bonding, which are capable of organizing guest molecules in their pores in unusual ways, or trapping molecules selectively to enable otherwise difficult separations. Our group also is synthesizing new organic materials designed for use as materials in field effect transistors.

We also seek to understand the nucleation and growth processes that lead to the formation of molecular crystals such as conducting solids, dyes and pharmaceutical reagents, and proteins. This understanding is crucial for control of crystal characteristics such as polymorphism, size, growth orientation, morphology and defect density, which ultimately affect the properties of these materials. These efforts include (i) the study of surface templates for selective growth of desirable crystalline polymorphs; (ii) elucidating the fundamental principles of epitaxy that govern nucleation of thin films and crystals; (iii) crystallization of organic compounds in nanometer-scale reactors, aimed at understanding the thermodynamic properties of organic nano-sized crystals, control of polymorphism, and discovery of new polymorphs. Our group also employs real-time in situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) for direct visualization of crystal growth at the near-molecular level.  These efforts include the study of disease pathways associated with pathological biomineralization, such as the formation of kidney stones, which in most cases are aggregates of calcium-containing crystalline minerals such as calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. AFM is used to study the effect of macromolecules and proteins on crystal growth, and its force measurement capability is used to probe the molecular-level adhesion properties of the various crystal surfaces, properties that are directly related to the formation of kidney stones.

Associated with other departments or programs
Molecular Design Institute

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