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Christopher Stafford

Project Leader, Polymer Membranes and Transport Media

The availability of clean water is one of the most significant challenges facing the world today. Polymer membranes are one of the most promising solutions to the water-scarcity problem. I lead a project that focuses primarily on thin film composite membranes, where the selective layer that separates water from dissolved ions is only 10s to a few 100s nm thick.  Probing the structure and dynamics of such thin layers is a significant measurement challenge. Providing industry with the measurement tools and proficiency will enable scientists and engineers to design more selective and energy-efficient membranes.

Chris was recently elected as an APS Fellow. See NIST announcement.
Chris was also recently elected as an ACS PMSE Division Fellow.  See NIST announcement.

"An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature’s answer."         - Max Planck

Research Interests

  • Polymer thin films and membranes
  • Water and ion transport
  • Thin film mechanics
  • Surface wrinkling and patterning

Google Scholar: publications and citations

LinkedIn: profession network and background

Research Opportunities

National Research Council (NRC) Research Associates Program (RAP)

  • RO# 50.64.21.B7643 "Polymer Membranes for Water Purification"
    We are developing quantitative measurement methods for determining the structure and dynamics of polymer membranes used in water purification, as well as how these properties change over time or after various processing treatments. Techniques include x-ray and neutron scattering/reflectivity, advanced chemical spectroscopy, scanning probe microscopy, and dielectric spectroscopy
  • RO# 50.64.21.B5585 "Nanomechanical Properties of Polymer Thin Films"
    We are applying a wrinkling-based metrology to elucidate the mechanical response of confined and/or structured polymer films. Of interest is how chain architecture, main chain stiffness, and side group flexibility impacts the elastic and viscoelastic properties of ultrathin polymer films.


Fellow of the ACS PMSE Division (2018)
Fellow of the American Physical Society (2017)
MML Accolade for Technology Transfer (2016)
Adhesion Society Outstanding Young Adhesion Scientist Award(2010)
U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award (2007)
NIST Sigma Xi Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Scientific Research (2006)
U.S. Department of Commerce Silver Medal Award (2005)
National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associateship (2002-2004)


Nanoscale Pattern Decay Monitored via in-situ Heated Atomic Force Microscopy

Sonal Bhadauriya, Jianan Zhang, Jaejun Lee, Michael R. Bockstaller, Alamgir Karim, Richard J. Sheridan, Christopher M. Stafford
We combine in-situ heated atomic force microscopy (AFM) with automated line-by-line spectral analysis to quantify the relaxation or decay of nanopatterned

Insights into the Water Transport Mechanism in Polymeric Membranes from Neutron Scattering

Edwin P. Chan, Bradley R. Frieberg, Jacob Daniel Tarver, Madhusudan Tyagi, WenXu Zhnag, Bryan Coughlin, Christopher M. Stafford, Abhishek Roy, Steve Rosenberg, Christopher L. Soles
Polymeric membranes are ubiquitous in a number of transport ap- plications including gas separation, water desalination, solid state batteries and fuel cells
Created October 9, 2019, Updated January 28, 2020