Frans Spaepen

Frans Spaepen

  • John C. and Helen F. Franklin Professor of Applied Physics


Spaepen conducts research in the following areas:

  • Colloidal systems as analog computers for the study of defects and deformation of crystals and glasses (with D. Weitz).

  • Amorphous materials (metals, semiconductors, polymers): structure, formation, stability, mechanical properties, atomic transport (viscosity, diffusivity, structural relaxation, crystallization).

  • Properties of interfaces: crystal/melt, amorphous/crystalline semiconductor, grain boundaries, grain growth, interface tension, interface stress, and interface stiffness.¬†

  • Thin films and multilayers: preparation, stability, mechanical properties.¬†General effects of size scale on mechanical properties.

Contact Information

Office:207 Pierce Hall
Office Phone:(617) 495-3760
Office Fax(617) 495-9837
Lab Location:402 McKay
Lab Phone:(617) 495-4469
Assistant:Joel Veak
Assistant Office:Pierce Hall 225
Assistant Phone:(617) 495-2677
Research Mgr: Alex Yen Yee Man

Primary Teaching Area

Positions & Employment

Rowland Institute, Director 2002-2013

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • Present: John C. and Helen F. Franklin Professor
  • 2008-2009: Interim Dean
Harvard Center for Nanoscale Systems
  • 2009-2010: Interim Director
Harvard Materials Research Laboratory/Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
  • 1990-1998: Director
Harvard Division of Applied Sciences
  • 1983: Professor
  • 1981: Associate Professor
  • 1977: Assistant Professor

Other Experience & Professional Membership

  • Co-editor, Solid State Physics, 1994-2009


  • Member, National Academy of Engineering, 2008
  • Fellow, American Physical Society (chairman of the Division of Materials Physics in 1992)
  • Fellow, Metallurgical Society of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers
  • Member, Vlaamse Academie voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten
  • Fellow, Materials Research Society