headshot of John Gibbs

john g. gibbs

Associate Professor
Applied Physics and Materials Science

Contact information

Phone: (928) 523-1916
Email: John.gibbs@nau.edu
Office: Bldg 19, Room 307

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Dr. Gibbs is an experimental condensed matter physicist who primarily focuses upon inorganic nanomaterials and their applications. Currently his two main research areas are: (1) the fabrication and optical properties of metamaterials with nanoscale features, and (2) active transport and collective behavior of self-propelled particles at the micro- and nanoscale, or so called active matter.

Inspiration for new materials often comes from observations of natural phenomena, such as the swarming of flocks of starling and schools of fish. That dynamic dancing and concerted motion of the natural world (“active matter” behavior) can also be observed at the micron and nanoscale, where collections of engineered and self-propelled nano- or micron-particles “swim” in viscous fluids. These active matter colloids consume energy and through catalysisexhibit mechanical motion. Beyond creating materials that can actively control and manipulate their environment, active materials hold promise for new applications in both the synthetic and living worlds (e.g. enabling motive cell penetration and fundamental understanding of non-equilibrium thermodynamics). The Gibbs group is particularly interested in the Advanced Design of Self-Propelled Colloids- fabrication and characterization, both via experiment and simulation, of active colloids with complex shape and materials composition. Design principles aim to achieve targeted ensemble behavior of self-propulsion.

Professional Experience

Associate Professor with Tenure, Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science
Center for Materials Interfaces in Research and Applications (¡MIRA!)
Northern Arizona University

Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science (2019 – 2020)
Department of Physics and Astronomy (2014 – 2019)
Northern Arizona University

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems Stuttgart, Germany

Honors and Awards

Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) Award, National Science Foundation

2019 Cottrell Scholar Award, Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), 2018, Tucson, AZ.

Ground Breaking Contribution Award, International Conference on Chiroptical Spectroscopy, 2013, Nashville, TN.

Highlighted Research

B Landry, V Girgis, JG Gibbs, Controlling the Speed of Light‐Activated Colloids with a Constant, Uniform Magnetic Field,  Small 16 (35), 2003375

AL Holterhoff, V Girgis, JG Gibbs, Material-dependent performance of fuel-free, light-activated, self-propelling colloids, Chemical Communications 56 (29), 4082-4085

JG Gibbs, Shape-and Material-Dependent Self-Propulsion of Photocatalytic Active Colloids, Interfacial Effects, and Dynamic Interparticle Interactions Langmuir 36 (25), 6938-6947

S. Sarkar, R. O. Behunin*, and J. G. Gibbs*, Shape-dependent, chiro-optical response of UV-activenanohelix metamaterials, Nano Lett. 2019, 19, 8089–8096.

J. G. Gibbs*, S. Sarkar, A. Leeth Holterhoff, M. Li, J. Castañeda, and J. Toller, Engineering the dynamics of active colloids by targeted design of metal-semiconductor heterojunctions, Adv. Mater. Interfaces 2019, 6, 1801894

A. Leeth Holterhoff, M. Li, and J. G. Gibbs*, Self-phoretic microswimmers propel at speeds dependent upon an adjacent surface’s physicochemical properties, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2018, 9, 5023–5028.

E. O’Neel-Judy, D. Nicholls, J. Castañeda, and J. G. Gibbs*, Light-activated, multi-semiconductor hybrid microswimmers, Small 2018, 14, 1801860.

D. Nicholls, A. DeVerse, R. Esplin, J. Castañeda, R. Nair, Y. Loyd, R. Voinescu, C. Zhou, W. Wang and J. G. Gibbs*, Shape-dependent motion of structured photoactive microswimmers, ACS Appl. Mater. & Interfaces 2018, 10, 18050–18056.

U. Choudhury, A. V. Straube, P. Fischer, J. G. Gibbs, and F. Höfling, Active colloidal propulsion over a crystalline surface, New J. Phys. 2017, 19, 125010.

A. Nourhani, D. Brown, N. Pletzer, and J. G. Gibbs*, Engineering contactless particle-particle interactions in active microswimmers, Adv. Mater. 2017, 29, 170391

J. N. Johnson, A. Nourhani, R. Peralta, C. McDonald, B. Thiesing, C. J. Mann, P. E. Lammert, and J. G. Gibbs*, Dynamic stabilization of Janus sphere trans-dimers, Phys. Rev. E 2017, 95, 042609