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Cristian Staii

Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Tufts University, 574 Boston Avenue, Medford, MA 02155


Research Areas: Biological Physics, Non-Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics, Condensed Matter Physics, Quantum Mechanics.

I have broad interests in physics. During my Master in Science studies and at the beginning of my PhD I was interested in high energy physics and worked on a variety of problems in quantum field theory, topology applied to conformal field theory, quantum chromodynamics and neutrino physics. After several years of research in this area I started to work on electronic transport in low-dimensional and strongly correlated electron systems including carbon nanotubes, silicon nanowires and organic polymers. My PhD dissertation was about electronic and optical properties of carbon nanotubes. After the PhD my work focused on developing and applying novel Scanning Probe Microscopies to study biophysical properties of biomolecules (DNA and proteins) and the mechanics of cells. It is through these techniques that I became interested in biological physics. As a physicist I realized that biological systems exhibit a wealth of fascinating physical phenomena that underlie their organization and function. Both experimental and theoretical tools of physics are extremely effective for studying these processes, and this fact has important consequences for applications. However, as physicists our primary motivation is to find novel principles of self-organization, energy transfer, information processing and collective behavior and thus expand the intellectual range of physics.

My current research topics are:

1. Neuron dynamics, formation of neuronal networks, information processing and self-organization (Experiment and Theory)

2. Mathematical modeling of neuronal growth using stochastic differential equations (Theory)

3. Neuron and cellular mechanics and scanning probe microscopies (Experiment and theoretical modeling using continuum mechanics)

4. Non - equilibrium statistical mechanics, classical and quantum chaos (Theory and Experiment)

5. Stochastic processes in quantum mechanics and quantum field theory (Theory)

6. Electronic transport in nanoscale systems (Experiment)


Follow the links below to learn more about my work:   

Research: a brief overview

Research projects for undergraduate and graduate students

Link to the complete publication list (Google Scholar)

Group members

Outreach Activities 

The Lab

Educational AFM video

Group Photos



Funding & Support


Some Representative Publications: 

 1.  D. J. Rizzo, J.D. White, E. Spedden, M.R. Wiens, D.L. Kaplan, T.J. Atherton, and C. Staii, Neuronal growth as diffusion in an effective potentialPhysical Review E, 88, 042707 (2013).

2.  E. Spedden, M.C. Demirel, and C. StaiiEffects of surface asymmetry on neuronal growthPLOS One, 9, e106709 (2014). 

3.  E. Spedden, J.D. White, E.N. Naumova, D.L. Kaplan, and C. Staii, Elasticity maps of living neurons measured by combined fluorescence and Atomic Force Microscopy, Biophysical Journal, 103, 868-877, (2012).

 4.   M. Simon, M. Dokukin, V. Kalaparthi, E. Spedden, I. Sokolov, and C. Staii Load Rate and Temperature Dependent Mechanical Properties of the Cortical Neuron and Its Pericellular Layer Measured by Atomic Force Microscopy Langmuir, 32 (4), 1111-1119 (2016).

5.   S. Lin, S. Ryu, O. S. Tokareva, G. Gronau, M. Jacobsen, W. Huang, D. J. Rizzo, D. Li, C. Staii, N. Pugno, J. Wong, D. L. Kaplan, and M. Buehler Predictive Modelling-Based Design for Synthesis and Spinning of Bioinspired Silk Fibres,  Nature Communications, 6, 6892, (2015).

6.   Q. Iqbal, P. Bernstein, Y. Zhu, J. Rahamim, P. Cebe, and C. Staii, Quantitative Analysis of Mechanical and Electrostatic Properties of Poly(lactic) Acid Fibers and Poly(lactic) Acid - Carbon Nanotube Composites Using Atomic Force Microscopy, Nanotechnology, 26, 105702 (2015).

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