California NanoSystems Institute
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Sarah Tolbert, Ph.D.

Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, Physical Chemistry
Member, NanoElectronics, Photonics, Architectonics, NanoMechanical and Nanofluidic Systems, California NanoSystems Institute
Researcher, Inorganic, Nanoscience and Materials, Physical

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1995 -
B.S., Yale University, 1990

Academic Experience:
1995 - 1997 NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Santa Barbara

Professional Societies:
Materials Research Society
American Chemical Society

Contact Information:
Email Address:
Work Email Address:
Laboratory Address: Young Hall 4107
Mail Code: 156905
Work Address: Young Hall 3045A
Mail Code: 156905
ARR Papers:
Home Page:
Fax Number: (310) 206-4038
Lab Number: 1 (310) 794-6618
Work Phone Number: 1 (310) 206-4767
Technical Research Interest:

Research in the Tolbert group is focused on controlling nanometer-scale architecture in solution-processed nanomaterials to generate unique optical, electronic, magnetic, structural, and electrochemical properties. Her group specifically focuses on four main areas, including (1) self-assembling organic materials for application in solar energy harvesting, (2) optimizing nanoscale architecture for performance in electrochemical energy storage, (3) nanomagnetics and magnetoelectric composites, and (4) new ultra-hard materials.

Patents and Patent Applications:
  • “Ordered Vertically Oriented Porous Inorganic Films Produced through Solution Processing.” E.K. Richman and S.H. Tolbert. United States Patent Application No. 11/449465, filed June 8, 2006. Issued 2013.

  • "Novel Synthesis and Applications of Nanoporous and Nanocomposite Piezoelectric, Magnetic and Multiferroic Materials Produced through Solution Phase Processing." Van Hoang Le, Torsten Brezesinski, Thomas E. Quickel, Robert A. Senter, Vijay Gupta, Ajey Jacob, Sarah H. Tolbert. United States Patent application No. 12/412,953, filed March 27, 2009.

  • "Photovoltaic Devices Including Self-Assembling Fullerene Derivatives For Improved Efficiencies." Sarah H. Tolbert, Benjamin J. Schwartz, Yves Rubin, Merissa Halim, Christopher T. Day, Darcy Wanger, Christopher J. Tassone, , Alexander L. Ayzner, and Robert Kennedy. United States Patent application No. 12/419,936, filed April 7, 2009.

  • "Rhenium Boride Compounds and Uses Thereof." Richard B. Kaner, Sarah H. Tolbert, Abby Kavner, Jenn-Ming Yang, Michelle B. Weinberger, Robert W. Cumberland, John J. Gilman, Hsiu-Ying Chung, Jonathan B. Levine. United States Patent application No. 12/423,949, filed on April 15, 2009. Issued 2013.

  • “Mesoporous Nanocrystalline Film Architecture For Capacitive Storage Devices.” Bruce S Dunn, Sarah H Tolbert, John Wang, Torsten Brezesinski. International Patent Application Serial No. PCT/US10/20572, filed on January 10, 2010. “Lithium Ion Batteries Based on Nanoporous Silicon.” Eric J. Nemanick, Chris B.-H. Kang, Sarah H. Tolbert. United States Provisional Patent application No. 61/352,263, filed on June 7, 2010.

  • "Solution Processable Inorganic Ordered Vertically Oriented Porous Films." E.K. Richman and S.H. Tolbert. United States Provisional Patent Application No. 60/688615, Filed June 8, 2005.

  • Continuation in Part to "Polarized-Light Emitting Films and Methods for Producing the Same." H. Miyata, S.H. Tolbert, W.C. Molenkamp, B.J. Schwartz, and I. Martini. United States Patent Application 11/103600, Filed April 12, 2005.

  • "Polarized-Light Emitting Films and Methods for Producing the Same." H. Miyata, S.H. Tolbert, W.C. Molenkamp. United States Patent Application No. 10/623561, Filed July 22, 2003.

Additional Information:

In addition to her research work, Tolbert also directs the CNSI high school nanoscience program aimed at bringing related nano-concepts to high school students in the greater LA area. Professor Tolbert is the recipient of a number of awards including the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, and a Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship.

Selected Publications:

Brezesinski K, Haetge J, Wang J, Mascotto S, Reitz C, Rein A, Tolbert SH, Perlich J, Dunn B, Brezesinski T, Ordered mesoporous ?-Fe2O3 (hematite) thin-film electrodes for application in high rate rechargeable lithium batteries, Small, 2011, 7 (3), 407-14.
Torsten Brezesinski, John Wang, Robert Senter, Kirstin Brezesinski, Bruce Dunn and Sarah H. Tolbert, On the Correlation between Mechanical Flexibility, Nanoscale Structure, and Charge Storage in Periodic Mesoporous CeO2 Thin Films, ACS Nano, 2010, 4 (2), 967-77.
Quickel TE, Le VH, Brezesinski T, Tolbert SH, On the correlation between nanoscale structure and magnetic properties in ordered mesoporous cobalt ferrite (CoFe2O4) thin films, Nano Lett, 2010, 10 (8), 2982-8.
Torsten Brezesinski, John Wang, Sarah H. Tolbert & Bruce Dunn, Ordered Mesoporous α-MoO3 with Iso-Oriented Nanocrystalline Grains for Next Generation Thin Film Pseudocapacitors, Nature Materials, 2010, 9, 146 - 151.
Brezesinski, K., Wang, J., Haetge, J., Reitz, C., Steinmueller, S.O., Tolbert, S.H., Smarsly, B.M., Dunn, B. and Brezesinski, T., Pseudocapacitive Contributions to Charge Storage in Highly Ordered Mesoporous Group V Transition Metal Oxides with Iso-Oriented Layered Nanocrystalline Domains, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2010, 132 (20), 6982-90.
, Second-harmonic generation in conjugated polymer films: A sensitive probe of how bulk polymer crystallinity changes with spin speed, J Chem Phys, 2010, 133 (4), 044901.
X. Chen, B.L. Kirsch, R. Senter, S.H. Tolbert, and V. Gupta, Tensile Testing of Thin Films Supported on Compliant Substrates, Mechanics of Materials, 2010, 41 (7), 839-848 .
Yang J, Kickhoefer VA, Ng BC, Gopal A, Bentolila LA, John S, Tolbert SH, Rome LH, Vaults are dynamically unconstrained cytoplasmic nanoparticles capable of half vault exchange, ACS Nano, 2010, 4 (12), 7229-40.
J.B. Levine, S.H. Tolbert, R.B. Kaner, Advances in the Search for Superhard Ultra-Incompressible Metal Borides, Advanced Functional Materials, 2009, 19 (22), 3519 - 3533.
S.D. Korlann, A.E. Riley, B.S. Mun, and S.H. Tolbert, Chemical Tuning of the Electronic Properties of Nanostructured Semiconductor Films formed through Surfactant Templating of Zintl Cluster, J. Phys. Chem. C, 2009, 113 (18), 7697–7705.
M.B. Weinberger, J.B. Levine, H.-Y. Chung, R.W. Cumberland, H.I. Rasool, J.-M. Yang, R.B. Kaner, and S.H. Tolbert, Incompressibility and Hardness of Solid Solution Transition Metal Diborides: Ru1-xOsxB2, Chem. Mater, 2009, 21 (9), 1915–1921.
Brezesinski, T. Wang, J. Polleux, J. Dunn, B. Tolbert, S. H., Templated nanocrystal-based porous TiO(2) films for next-generation electrochemical capacitors, J Am Chem Soc, 2009, 131 (5), 1802-9.
H.-Y. Chung, J.-M. Yang, S.H. Tolbert and R.B. Kaner, Anisotropic Mechanical Properties Of Ultra-Incompressible, Hard Osmium Diboride, J. Mater, 2008, 23 (6), 1797-1801.
S. Virji, B.H. Weiller, J. Huang, H. Shepherd, T. Faltens, P.C. Haussmann, R. Blair, R.B. Kaner, and S.H. Tolbert, Construction of a Polyaniline Nanofiber Gas Sensor, J. Chem. Ed, 2008, 85 (8), 1102-1104.
H.Y.Chung, M.B. Weinberger, J.M. Yang, S.H. Tolbert, and R. B. Kaner, Correlation Between Hardness And Elastic Moduli Of The Ultraincompressible Transition Metal Diborides RuB2, OsB2, and ReB2, Appl. Phys. Lett, 2008, 92 (26), 261904 - 261904-3 .
Ng, B. C. Yu, M. Gopal, A. Rome, L. H. Monbouquette, H. G. Tolbert, S. H., Encapsulation of semiconducting polymers in vault protein cages, Nano Lett, 2008, 8 (10), 3503-9.
X. Chen, E.K. Richman, B.L. Kirsch, R. Senter, S.H. Tolbert, and V. Gupta, Measurement of anisotropic fracture energies in periodic templated silica/polymer composite coatings, J. Appl. Phys, 2008, 104, 083515.
Richman, E. K. Kang, C. B. Brezesinski, T. Tolbert, S. H., Ordered mesoporous silicon through magnesium reduction of polymer templated silica thin films, Nano Lett, 2008, 8 (9), 3075-9.
Weinberger, M. B. Tolbert, S. H. Kavner, A., Osmium metal studied under high pressure and nonhydrostatic stress, Phys Rev Lett, 2008, 100 (4), 045506.
M. Yu, B.C. Ng, L.H. Rome, S.H. Tolbert, H.G. Monbouquette, Reversible pH Lability of Crosslinked Vault Nanocapsules, Nano Lett, 2008, 8 (10), 3510-3515.
A.L. Ayzner, D.D. Wanger, C.J. Tassone, S.H. Tolbert and B.J. Schwartz, Room to Improve Conjugated Polymer-Based Solar Cells: Understanding how Thermal Annealing Affects the Fullerene Component of a Bulk Heterojunction Photovoltaic Device, J. Phys. Chem. C, 2008, 112 (48), 18711-18716.
Kennedy, R. D. Ayzner, A. L. Wanger, D. D. Day, C. T. Halim, M. Khan, S. I. Tolbert, S. H. Schwartz, B. J. Rubin, Y., Self-assembling fullerenes for improved bulk-heterojunction photovoltaic devices, J Am Chem Soc, 2008, 130 (51), 17290-2.
E.K. Richman, T. Brezesinski, and S.H. Tolbert, Vertically Oriented Hexagonal Mesoporous Films Formed through Nanometer Scale Epitaxy, Nature Mater, 2008, 7, 712-717.
Martini, I. B. Craig, I. M. Molenkamp, W. C. Miyata, H. Tolbert, S. H. Schwartz, B. J., Controlling optical gain in semiconducting polymers with nanoscale chain positioning and alignment, Nat Nanotechnol, 2007, 2 (10), 647-52.
A.E. Riley and S.H. Tolbert, Synthesis and Characterization of Tin Telluride Inorganic/Organic Composite materials with Nanoscale Periodicity through Solution Phase Self-Assembly: A New Class of Composite Materials Based on Zintl Cluster Self-Oligomerization, Res. Chem. Intermed, 2007, 33 (1-2), 111-124.
Chung, H. Y. Weinberger, M. B. Levine, J. B. Cumberland, R. W. Kavner, A. Yang, J. M. Tolbert, S. H. Kaner, R. B., Synthesis of ultra-incompressible superhard rhenium diboride at ambient pressure, Science, 2007, 316 (5823), 436-9.
L. Huang, E.K. Richman, B.L. Kirsch, and S.H. Tolbert, Controlling Thickness in Hexagonal Polymer Templated Mesoporous Silica Films, Microporous Mesoporous Mater, 2006, 96 (1-3), 341-349.
D. Sun, A.E. Riley, A.J. Cadby, E.K. Richman, S.D. Korlann, and S.H. Tolbert, Hexagonal Nanoporous Germanium through Surfactant-Driven Self-Assembly of Zintl Clusters, Nature, 2006, 441, 1126-1130.
Clark, A. P. Cadby, A. J. Shen, C. K. Rubin, Y. Tolbert, S. H., Synthesis and self-assembly of an amphiphilic poly(phenylene ethynylene) ionomer, J Phys Chem B, 2006, 110 (44), 22088-96.
A.E. Riley, S.D. Korlann, E.K. Richman, and S.H. Tolbert, Synthesis of Semiconducting Thin Films with Nanometer Scale Periodicity by Solution Phase Co-Assembly of Zintl Clusters with Surfactants, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed, 2006, 45 (2), 235-241 .
Clark, A. P. Shen, K. F. Rubin, Y. F. Tolbert, S. H., An amphiphilic poly(phenylene ethynylene) as the structure-directing agent for periodic nanoscale silica composite materials, Nano Lett, 2005, 5 (9), 1647-52.
Korlann, S. D. Riley, A. E. Kirsch, B. L. Mun, B. S. Tolbert, S. H., Chemical tuning of the electronic properties in a periodic surfactant-templated nanostructured semiconductor, J Am Chem Soc, 2005, 127 (36), 12516-27.
Cadby, A. J. Tolbert, S. H., Controlling optical properties and interchain interactions in semiconducting polymers by encapsulation in periodic nanoporous silicas with different pore sizes, J Phys Chem B, 2005, 109 (38), 17879-86.
O. Trofymluk, A.A. Levchenko, S.H. Tolbert, A. Navrotsky, Energetics of Mesoporous Silica: Investigation into Pore Size and Symmetry, Chem. Mater. , 2005, 17 (14), 3772-3783 .
Lapena, A. M. Gross, A. F. Tolbert, S. H., Examining the role of surfactant packing in phase transformations of periodic templated silica/surfactant composites, Langmuir, 2005, 21 (1), 470-80.
Kaner, R. B. Gilman, J. J. Tolbert, S. H., Materials science. Designing superhard materials, Science, 2005, 308 (5726), 1268-9.
R.B. Kaner, J.J. Gilman, and S.H. Tolbert, Materials science – Designing Superhard Materials, Science, 2005, 308, 1268.
Cumberland, RW Weinberger, MB Gilman, JJ Clark, SM Tolbert, SH Kaner, RB, Osmium diboride, an ultra-incompressible, hard material, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2005, 127 (20), 7264-5.
B.L. Kirsch, X. Chen, E.K. Richman, V. Gupta, and S.H. Tolbert, Probing the Effects of Nanoscale Architecture on the Mechanical Properties of Hexagonal Silica/Polymer Composite Thin Films, Adv. Func. Mater. , 2005, 15 (8), 1319-1327.
Riley, A. E. Korlann, S. D. Richman, E. K. Tolbert, S. H., Synthesis of semiconducting thin films with nanometer-scale periodicity by solution-phase coassembly of zintl clusters with surfactants, Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 2005, 45 (2), 235-41.
Rugge, A. Park, J. S. Gordon, R. G. Tolbert, S. H., Tantalum(V) nitride inverse opals as photonic structures for visible wavelengths, J Phys Chem B, 2005, 109 (9), 3764-71.
Molenkamp, W. C. Watanabe, M. Miyata, H. Tolbert, S. H., Highly polarized luminescence from optical quality films of a semiconducting polymer aligned within oriented mesoporous silica, J Am Chem Soc, 2004, 126 (14), 4476-7.
B.F. Kirsch, E.K. Richman, A.E. Riley, and S.H. Tolbert, In-Situ X-Ray Diffraction Study of The Crystallization Kinetics Of Mesoporous Titania Films, J. Phys. Chem. B, 2004, 108, 12698-12706.
Kirsch, B. L. Riley, A. E. Gross, A. F. Tolbert, S. H., Probing the effects of interfacial chemistry on the kinetics of phase transitions in amorphous and tetragonal zirconia nanocrystals, Langmuir, 2004, 20 (25), 11247-54.
D. Sun, C.W. Kwon, G. Baure, E.K. Richman, J. MacLean, B. Dunn, and S.H. Tolbert., The Relationship between Nanoscale Structure and Electrochemical Properties of Vanadium Oxide Nanorolls, Adv. Func. Mater, 2004, 14 (12), 1197-1204.
A.F. Gross, M.R. Diehl, K.C. Beverly, E. Richman, and S.H. Tolbert, Controlling Magnetic Coupling between Cobalt Nanoparticles through Nanoscale Confinement in Hexagonal Mesoporous Silica, J. Phys. Chem. B, 2003, 107 (23), 5475-5482.
A. Rugge, W.T. Ford, and S.H. Tolbert, From a Colloidal Crystal to an Interconnected Colloidal Array: a Mechanism for a Spontaneous Rearrangement, Langmuir, 2003, 19 (19), 7852-7861.
A.F. Gross, S.Yang, A. Navrotsky, and S.H. Tolbert, In-Situ Calorimetric Study of the Hexagonal-to-Lamellar Phase Transformation in a Silica/Surfactant Composite, J. Phys. Chem. B, 2003, 107 (12), 2709-2718.
A.E. Riley, G.W. Mitchell, P.A. Koutentis, M. Bendikov, P. Kaszynki, F. Wudl, and S.H. Tolbert, Liquid Crystalline Phase Behavior in a Zwitterionic Tetraazapentacene, Adv. Func. Mater. , 2003, 13 (7), 531-540.
B.L. Kirsch and S.H. Tolbert, Stabilization of Isolated Hydrous Amorphous and Tetragonal Zirconia Nanoparticles Through the Formation of a Passivating Alumina Shell, Adv. Func. Mater, 2003, 13 (4), 281-288.
Riley, A. E. Tolbert, S. H., Synthesis of periodic hexagonal surfactant templated platinum tin tellurides: narrow band gap inorganic/organic composites, J Am Chem Soc, 2003, 125 (15), 4551-9.
A. Rugge, J.S. Becker, R.G. Gordon, and S.H. Tolbert, Tungsten Nitride Inverse Opals by Atomic Layer Deposition, Nano Lett, 2003, 3 (9), 1293-1297.
A.F. Gross, V.H. Le, B.L. Kirsch, and S.H. Tolbert, Chemical Control of Phase Transformation Kinetics in Periodic Silica/Surfactant Composites, J. Am. Chem. Soc, 2002, 124 (14), 3713-3724.
J. Wu, L. Zhao, E.L. Chronister, and S.H. Tolbert, Elasticity through Nanoscale Distortions in Periodic Surfactant Templated Porous Silica under High Pressure, J. Phys. Chem. B, 2002, 106 (22), 5613-5621.
A. Rugge and S.H. Tolbert, The Effect Of Electrostatic Interactions On Crystallization In Binary Colloidal Films, Langmuir, 2002, 18 (18), 7057-7065.
A.M. Lapena, J.J. Wu, A.F. Gross, and S.H. Tolbert, Using High Pressure Phase Stability to Determine the Internal Pressure of Silica/Surfactant Composites, J. Phys. Chem. B, 2002, 106 (45), 11720-11724.