David A. Weitz

David A. Weitz

  • Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics
  • Director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
  • Co-Director of the BASF Advanced Research Initiative
  • Associate Faculty Member, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering
  • Member, Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology


Weitz and his group study the physics of soft condensed matter, materials easily deformed by external stresses, electric, magnetic or gravitational fields, and even thermal fluctuations. These materials typically possess structures much larger than atomic or molecular scales; the structure and dynamics at these mesoscopic scales determine the macroscopic physical properties.

The goal of their research is to probe and understand the relationship between mesoscopic structure and bulk properties. The group studies both synthetic and biological materials, with interests ranging from fundamental physics to technological applications and from basic materials questions to specific biological problems.

Techniques used by the group include video-image analysis, light scattering, optical microscopy, rheology, and laser tweezing. New experimental techniques are developed, such as the use of multiply scattered waves to study the dynamics and mechanical properties of materials.

Weitz and his group study the properties of colloidal suspensions to investigate the behavior of crystals and glasses as well as the properties of highly disordered gels.  They use confocal microscopy, scattering and rheology to investigate both fundamental properties that are modeled using the colloidal particles as well as more technological applications of these systems.  They also investigate other soft materials such as foams, emulsions and gels, to study the relationship between their internal structure and dynamics and their bulk properties, developing a fundamental understanding that can also impact on technological applications.

Weitz and his group also are developing methods to make ‘designer’ emulsions and foams on a drop-by-drop basis using a class of microfluidic devices that they have developed.  They fabricate multiple emulsions with exquisite precision and they explore both the basic physics of these structures, as well as their potential uses for encapsulation of active materials.  In addition, they explore the scale-up of these structures to make useful quantities of materials.

The group also develops drop-based microfluidics for biophysics and biotechnology applications.  This is a microfluidic technique where minute drops immersed in an inert carrier fluid are used as reaction vessels of only a few picoliters in volume.  They are used to collect biological data at very high rates, and Weitz and his group are applying them to investigate issues in biology and for biotechnology applications.

The group also investigates the mechanical properties of biopolymer networks, both model, reconstituted networks, and those in cells, with a goal of understanding mechanical behavior at the level of single cells and of tissue.  They investigate the properties of reconstituted networks of actin, microtubules and intermediate filaments, and study ‘active’ networks, where molecular motors induce active motion.  These studies provide insight into the mechanical properties of cells. They also investigate mechanical properties of extracellular biopolymer networks, including collagen and fibrin.

Weitz and his group have extensive interactions with industry, with some of their work motivated by the science that directly addresses technologically important problems.  In addition, some research in the group has led to promising new technologies, and several start-up companies have emerged from the research. 

Contact Information

Nickname: Dave
Office:231 Pierce Hall
Office Phone:(617) 496-2842
Office Fax(617) 495-0426
Lab Name:Experimental Soft Condensed Matter Group
Assistant:Matthew Zahnzinger
Assistant Office:Pierce Hall 232
Assistant Phone:(617) 496-2159
Research Mgr: Melissa Rae Giglio

Primary Teaching Area

Positions & Employment

Harvard University

  • 2005-Present: Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics & Applied Physics

BASF Advanced Research Initiative at Harvard

  • 2007-Present: Co-director

Harvard Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology

  • 2007-2011: Co-director

Technical University of Munich

  • 2008-2009: Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies

Department of Systems Biology, Harvard University

  • 2006-Present: Professor

University of Amsterdam

  • 2004-2005: van der Waals Honorary Visiting Professor

Harvard Materials Research Science & Engineering Center

  • 2001-Present: Director

Harvard Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • 1999-2005: Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics & Physics

University of Pennsylvania

  • 1995-1999: Professor of Physics

Exxon Research and Engineering Co.

  • 1978-1995: Physicist
  • 1987-1989: Group Leader: Interfaces and Inhomogeneous Materials Group
  • 1989-1993: Science Area Leader: Complex Fluids

Other Experience & Professional Membership

Honors & Awards:

  • Honorary PhD. University of Waterloo
  • Member, National Academy of Engineering
  • Foreign member, Chinese Academy of Chemistry
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences
  • Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • Exxon Incentive Awards, 1985, 1981


Visiting Positions:

  • Jolicot Chair, ESPCI, Paris, France, 2016
  • Visiting Professor, Institute for Quantitative Biology, Peking University, 2015-
  • Visiting Professor, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Sichuan University, 2011-
  • Michelin Chair, ESPCI, Paris, France, 2011, 2012
  • Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies, Technical University of Munich, Germany, 2008-2009
  • van der Waals Honorary Visiting Professor, University of Amsterdam, Nov. 2004 – Aug. 2005.
  • Industrial Visitor, James Franck Institute, The University of Chicago, Oct.-Nov. 1992.


Scientific Advisory Boards:

  • LafargeHolcim Cement 2014 – present
  • Pepsico, 2013 – present
  • TRIUMF, 2010-2012
  • AxioMx, 2010 - 2015
  • Affomix, 2009-2010
  • Dow-Corning, 2007-2015
  • Cabot Corp. 2002-2008
  • Arryx Corp. 2001-2005
  • Max Planck Institute for Polymers, Mainz, Germany 2001-2009
  • Center for Non-Linear Science, Los Alamos, NM 2001-2010


Entrepreneurship Activities:

  • Co-founder, Calyxia, microfluidics for encapsulation (2015)
  • Co-founder 1CellBiO Inc., single-cell sequencing (2015)
  • Co-founder Hunter Biodiscovery, personalized diagnostic and drug discovery company (2015)
  • Co-founder, BoD, BioMillenium, microfluidics to screen for new enzymes (2014)
  • Co-founder, HiFiBio, high-throughput screening and drug discovery (2013)
  • Co-founder, SphereBio, microfluidics company for directed evolution (2013).
  • Co-founder, BoD, GnuBIO, microfluidic sequencing (2011); acquired by BioRad, 2014
  • Co-founder, HAbSel, microfluidics to discover human antibodies (2008)
  • Co-founder, BoD, Capsum, microfluidics for cosmetics (2008); acquired by Chanel 2015
  • Co-Founder and BoD, Raindance Technologies, 2004-2010


  • Member, National Academy of Sciences, 2010
  • Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2010

Patents Awarded

  1. “Emulsions and Techniques for Formation,” Liang-Yin Chu, Ho Cheung Shum, Alberto Fernandez-Nieves, Andrew Utada, Enric Santanach Carreras, David A. Weitz, PCT filed 3/28/08, priority to provisional patent 60/920,574, filed 03/28/07 (70292US00).
  2. “Surfaces, Including Microfluidic Channels, with Controlled Wetting Properties,” Adam R. Abate, Amber T. Krummel, Christian Holtze, and David A. Weitz, US provisional patent filed 3/28/08.
  3. “Droplet Based Microfluidics for Emulson and Solvent Evaporation Synthesis of Monodisperse Mesoporous Silica Microspheres,” Dimiter Nikolov Petsev, Erin Derbins, David A. Weitz, Sergio Mendez, Shailendra B. Rathod, Nick J. Carroll provisional patent filed through the University of New Mexico. Jan. 2008.
  4. “Systems and Methods for Nucleic Acid Sequencing,” US Provisional 2998 UStba filed 12/21/07 David A. Weitz, Jeremy Agresti, Michael Weiner, Adam Ross Abate.
  5. “Highly Responsive Hydrogel Scaffolds by 3-Dimensional Organization of Submicron-sized Microgel Particles” US Provisional 2998 UStba filed 12/18/07 – David Weitz, Jinwoong Kim, Alberto Fernandez-Nieves, En-Chul Cho.
  6. “A Robust Technique to Manufacture Janus Particles with Tunable Properties” US Provisional 3074tba filed 11/2/07 – David Weitz, Rhutesh Shah, Jinwoong Kim.
  7. “Magnetic Particles Made from Ferrofluid Emulsions with Microcapillaries” US Provisional 60/966,044 filed 8/24/07 – David Weitz, Jerome Bibette, Enric Santanach-Carreras.
  8. “Glass Coating of Microfluidic Channels” US Provisional 60/963,709 filed 8/7/07 – David Weitz, Christian Holtze, Adam Abate, Daeyeon Lee, Thao Do.
  9. “High-Throughput Method for Biological Applications” US Provisional 3009 US tba filed 7/13/07 – David Weitz, Sarah Koester, Andrew Griffiths, Honey Duan, Elio Angiles.
  10. “Ferrofluid Emulsions, Magnetic Particles, and Systems and Methods for Making and Using the Same,” Enric Santanach Carreras, Jerome Bibette, David Weitz, US provisional patent filed 7/07.
  11. “Bypass-pot for Biological Assays: Cells, Cells in drops, & Cells in Gels” US provisional field 04/19/07 – David Weitz, Seth Fraden (Brandeis), Yanwei Jei, Hakim Boukellal and Seila Selemoviv.
  12. “Microfluidics based method to fabricate controlled monodisperse multiple emulsions” US provisional 60/920,574 filed 3/28/07 – David Weitz, Liang-Yin Chu.
  13. “Microfluidic drop-templated solid particles” US provisional 60/905,567 filed 03/07/07 – Daid Weitz, Jeremy Agresti, Liang-Yin Chu.
  14. “Target-locking Confocal Microscope System” US provisional 60/932,396, filed May 31, 2007 – David Weitz, Peter Lu, Peter Sims, James MacArthur and Hidekazr Oki.
  15. “Synthesis of Nonspherical Colloidal Particles with Anisotropic Properties,” David Weitz, Ryan J. Larsen and Jin-Woong Kim, US provisional filed 11/06/06.
  16. “New Routes to Stabilizing Inverse Emulsion Droplets in Fluorocarbon Oils,” David Weitz, Christian Holtze, Rodrigo Guerra, Jeremy Agresti and Keunho Ahn, US provisional filed 8/07/06.
  17. “Emulsion Stability” David Weitz, Chanjoong Kim, Yaqian Liu, US regular application 11/449 360 filed 6/08/06, filed by BASF.
  18. “Capillary Microfluidic Device for Generating Single and Multiple Emulsions Using Opposing Flow” – US Provisional PCT/US06/007772 filed 3/3/06 – David Weitz, Darren Link.
  19. “Fluidic Droplet Coalescense,” David Weitz, Keunho Ahn, Henry Chong, Jeremy Agresti and Darren Link, US Provisional filed January 27, 2006.
  20. “The Phase Chip” Seth Fraden, Darren Link, David Weitz, Galder C. Azkarate and Jung Shim US Provisional PCT/US2006/034659 filed 9/7/06 – (co-owned with Brandeis University).
  21. “Compartmentalized Combinatorial Chemistry,” David Weitz, Andrew Griffiths, Darren Link and Keunho Ahn, PCT/GB2005/003927.
  22. “Compartmentalized Screening,” David Weitz, Andrew Griffiths, Darren Link and Keunho Ahn, PCT/GB2005/003924.
  23. “In Vitrro Evolution in Microfluidic Systems,” David Weitz, Andrew Griffiths, Jerome Bibette, Keunho Ahn and Darren Link, 10/961, 695 filed 10/08/04.
  24. “Method and Apparatus for Fluid Dispersion”, Howard Stone, Shelley Anna, Darren Link, George Whitesides, Nathalie Bontoux, David Weitz, Willow DiLuzio, Irina Gitlin, and Piotr Garstecki, PCT/US033/20542 filed 6/30/03.
  25. “Electric Field Mediated Emulsification in a Flow Focusing Microfluidic Device”, David Weitz, Darren Link, Manuel Marquez-Sanchez, and Zhengdong Cheng, US Provisional filing 60/461,954 filed 4/10/03, PCT filing designating the US 4/2004, PCT/US2004/010903.
  26. “Electrostatic Steering of Charged Droplets in Microfluidic Devices”, Darren Link, David Weitz, Zhengdong Cheng, and Galder Cristobal-Azkarte, US Provisional Filing 8/27/03, PCT/US2004/027912.
  27. “Passive Breakup of Drops using Microfluidic Channels,” Howard Stone, Shelley Anna, David Weitz, Darren Link, US Provisional patent filed 2002 US Provisional filing 60/424,042 filed 11/05/02.
  28. “Vesicles Comprising an Amphiphilic Di-Block Copolymer And a Hydrophobic Compound,” Mathieu Joanicoat, Ani Nikova, Ruela Maria Talinting and D.A. Weitz, patent 2001, international patent, 2003.
  29. “Methods and Compositions for Encapsulating Active Agents,” A.D. Dinsmore, M.F. Hsu, M. Nikolaides, A.R. Bausch and D.A. Weitz, US Provisional patent filed 2001.
  30. “Arrangement and method to apply diffusing-wave spectroscopy to measure the properties of multi-phase systems, as well as the changes therein,” C.G. de Kruif, E. Ten Grotenhuis, D.A. Weitz, G. Nishimura and A.G. Yodh, European Patent granted, #98201042.3-2204 (1999).