Irving P. Herman


905 CEPSR & 208 Mudd
Mail Code 4701

Tel(212) 854-4950

Herman's research concentrates on the fundamental aspects and applications of laser interactions with matter and nanoscience.  This includes properties of nanocrystals and films composed of nanocrystals, van der Waals layers, optical physics of the solid state, molecular and chemical physics, thin film processing, and optical spectroscopy. One active area of research in his group is the study of the optical properties of semiconductor and metal oxide nanocrystals and how to assemble them into films by controlled evaporation and electrophoretic deposition (electric field directed assembly). 

Research Interests

Nanocrystals, optical spectroscopy of nanostructured materials, laser diagnostics of thin film processing, mechanical properties of nanomaterials.

He also studies van der Waals layers, including how to interface them with nanocrystals. Another active area of research in his group is the use of optical spectroscopies to probe the physical and chemical events that occur in the thin film processing of microelectronic materials. These techniques are also called real-time optical diagnostics. He is also interested in optical spectroscopy of semiconductors and, in particular, in the effects of strain, confinement, and temperature on these materials.

Herman has written two comprehensive books: the monograph "Optical Diagnostics for Thin Film Processing" (Academic Press, San Diego) and the textbook "Physics of the Human Body" (Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg-New York), now in its second edition. He has also developed three interactive seminars on ethics and presents them to students in his department.

In 2020 Herman published "Coming Home to Math: Become Comfortable with the Numbers that Rule Your Life", which is meant to be a semi-popular, semi-trade-book, explanatory book, mostly of interest to adults who claim they do not like math or are no good at it.

Herman graduated with SB and PhD degrees in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972 and 1977. From 1977-1986 he was a member and section leader in O-group within the Physics Department at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he was engaged in research in laser isotope separation of deuterium and tritium, and the use of direct laser writing in thin film processing. In 1986, he joined the faculty of Columbia University, where he is now the Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Applied Physics. He directed the Columbia Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) from 1998 – 2010 and was Director of the Columbia Optics and Quantum Electronics IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program) from 2015 -2019. From 2006-2012 he was chair of the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and he was re-elected chair in 2018. He has served in the Columbia University Senate since 2017.


  • Postdoctoral Scientist, M.I.T., Physics Department, 1977
  • Fannie and John Hertz Predoctoral Research Fellow, M.I.T., Physics Dep't, 1972 – 1977


  • Member, Columbia University Senate, 2017 –
  • Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Applied Physics, Columbia University, 2016 –
  • Professor of Applied Physics, Columbia University, 1995 – 2016
  • Director, Columbia University, NSF IGERT: Engineering Photons for a Sustainable Future, 2015 –2019
  • Chair, Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, 2006 – 2012
  • Vice Chair, Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, 2001 – 2006
  • Director, NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Columbia University, 1998 – 2010
  • Cochairman, Committee on Materials Science and Engineering/Solid State Science and Engineering, Columbia University, 1998 –
  • Chairman, Committee on Solid-State Science and Engineering, Columbia University, 1993 – 1998
  • Member of the Columbia Nano Initiative (CNI) [formerly called Integrated Science and Engineering Center (CISE) and Columbia Radiation Laboratory (CRL)], 1987 –
  • Associate Professor of Applied Physics, Columbia University, 1986 – 1995
  • Section Leader, Special Studies Group, Physics Department, LLNL, 1981 – 1986
  • Professional Staff Member, University of California, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 1977 – 1986


  • Fellow, American Physical Society
  • Fellow, Optical Society of America
  • Materials Research Society
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
  • American Vacuum Society


  • Named Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Applied Physics, 2016
  • Gift from Honda Research Institute USA, Inc., 2012
  • The Seidman Family Series Lecturer. Department of Materials Engineering, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, June 13-17, 2010
  • Lady Davis Fellowship Visiting Professor, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, awarded for 2000-2001
  • Gift from Kulite Semiconductor Products, Inc., 1999
  • Visiting Scholar: Department of Materials Engineering, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Jan. 3-17, 1999
  • Fellow, Optical Society of America, 1998
  • Fellow, American Physical Society, 1997
  • Awarded AT&T Foundation Special Purpose Grant, 1993
  • Who's Who in Science and Engineering and Who's Who in the East, 1992
  • National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow (declined), 1977
  • Phi Beta Kappa 1972: National Science Foundation Fellowship (declined), 1972


  • “Passivating 1T′-MoTe2 Multilayers at Elevated Temperatures by Encapsulation,” D. Wang, K. Smyser, D. Rhodes, L. Balicas, A. Pasupathy and I. P. Herman, Nanoscale 9, 13910-13914 (2017). DOI: 10.1039/C7NR04998F
  • “Forming Nanoparticle Monolayers at Liquid-air Interfaces by Using Miscible Liquids,” D. Zhang, J. Hu, K. M. Kennedy, and I. P. Herman, Langmuir 32, 8467-8472 (2016). doi:10.1021/acs.langmuir.6b00828  PDF
  • “Passivation of CdSe Quantum Dots by Graphene and MoS2 Monolayer Encapsulation,” D. Zhang, D. Z.-R. Wang, R. Creswell, C. Lu, J. Liou, and I P. Herman, Chem. Mater. 27, 5032-5039 (2015). doi: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.5b01522  PDF
  • “Small Angle X-ray Scattering of Iron Oxide Nanoparticle Monolayers Formed on a Liquid Surface,” D. Zhang, C. Lu, J. Hu, S. W. Lee, F. Ye, and I. P. Herman, J. Phys. Chem. C 119, 10727-10733 (2015). doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b01741  PDF
  • “Electronic Transport in Nanoparticle Monolayers Sandwiched Between Graphene Electrodes,” C. Lu, D. Zhang, A. van der Zande, P. Kim and I. P. Herman, Nanoscale 6 (23), 14158-14162 (2014). PDF
  • “Introducing Graduate and Undergraduate Students to Research and Professional Ethics at Columba University,” I. P. Herman, 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Science, Technology and Engineering (2014).
  • “Following the Law”, I. P. Herman, “Nature 445, 228 (2007). (Laws of Herman) (non-scientific paper in NatureJobs) PDF
  • “Raman Microprobe Analysis of Elastic Strain and Fracture in Electrophoretically-Deposited CdSe Nanocrystal Films,” S. Banerjee, S. Jia, D. I. Kim, R. D. Robinson, J. Kysar, J. Bevk, and I. P. Herman, Nano Letters 6, 175-180 (2006). PDF
  • "Electric-Field Assisted Deposition of Patterned Nanocrystal Films using Thermally Charged CdSe Nanocrystals," M. Islam and I. P. Herman, Appl. Phys. Lett. 80, 3823-3825 (2002). PDF
  • "Raman Microprobe Analysis During the Direct-Laser Writing of Silicon Microstructures," F. Magnotta and I. P. Herman, Appl. Phys. Lett. 48, 195 (1986). PDF
  • "Deuterium Separation at High Pressure by Nanosecond CO2 Laser Multiple-Photon Dissociation," J. B. Marling, I. P. Herman, and S. J. Thomas, J. Chem. Phys. 72, 5603 (1980).
  • "Observation of Dicke Superradiance in Optically Pumped HF Gas," N. Skribanowitz, I. P. Herman, J. C. MacGillivray and M. S. Feld, Phys. Rev. Lett. 30, 309 (1973).