Masha Kamenetska

Degrees and Positions

  • B.S. Physics, MIT 2005
  • Ph.D. in Applied Physics, Columbia University, 2012
  • NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University 2012-2014
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Yale University, 2014-2017


  • Scientific Teaching Fellow, Yale University, 2014
  • Robert Simon Memorial Prize for best PhD, Department of Applied Physics, Columbia University, 2012
  • National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biology, 2011
  • Burroughs Welcome Fund Collaborative Research Travel Grant, 2011
  • PhD with Distinction, Columbia University, 2012
  • Peter J. Eloranta Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, MIT 2005


The Kamenetska research group develops and uses novel single molecule nano-manipulation, detection and spectroscopy techniques to understand and control how the structure of the intermolecular interface affects function in biological and man-made devices.

As matter is confined to the nanometer scale, unusual phenomena arise. The ~1 nm regime is where physics meets chemistry–materials approach atomic dimensions and can no longer be described by bulk properties. In order to create devices on these size scales, we must learn to probe the atomic structure of single molecule systems while simultaneously measuring their function. Of particular interest is to understand how the structure of the intermolecular interface affects properties. My lab develops experimental approaches that allow such multi-probe measurements on the nanometer scale in both biological and semiconducting materials. Methods include Scanning Tunneling Microscopy Break Junction, Atomic Force Microscopy, Optical Tweezers and Raman Spectroscopy. We are working to combine existing measurements in novel ways and invent new single-molecule sensing probes. Our vision is for label-free, sub-diffraction-limit investigation and control of single molecule machines.

Questions we would like to answer include:

  • What determines charge transport in metal-molecule-metal junctions and how can we control it?
  • Can we measure and harness charge transfer in DNA to make useful devices?
  • How does the nature of the interface between a DNA-molecule and a histone protein affect nucleosome dynamics and function?
  • How can we combine single molecule spectroscopy techniques with nano-manipulation and force measurements in an optical trap?

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics

Division of Materials Science and Engineering
LSEB 907
Phone 617-358-3334
Office hours: Wednesday 11:00-12:00 PM; Friday 10:00-11:00 AM; or by appointment
Kamenetska Research Lab
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