Malkiat Johal

Professor of Chemistry
With Pomona Since: 2006
  • Expertise


    In his research, Mal Johal uses self-assembly and ionic adsorption processes to fabricate nano-materials for optical and biochemical applications. Undergraduate research students are heavily involved in both the construction of and the detailed characterization of ultra-thin assemblies. These functional materials include bioactive surfaces (immobilized proteins) within polyelectrolyte multilayers, asymmetrically orientated surfactant multilayers, and self-assembled polyelectrolytes with desirable photoluminescent, photovoltaic and NLO-active properties.

    Johal and his undergraduate research team also explore fundamental phenomena such as ion-pair complexation, adsorption, surface wettability, and intermolecular non-covalent interactions that lead to highly ordered structures. His lab is also exploring the use of functionalized stacked waveguides and piezoelectric quartz crystal resonators as platforms for chemical and biological detection, catalysis, and the nano-fabrication of photovoltaic and organic LED materials. 

    Research Interests

    Johal’s research focuses on molecular aggregation and interactions within ultra-thin nano-assemblies. In particular, he is interested in how natural self-assembly processes can be exploited to create functional materials with novel biological and optical properties. Recently, he used electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions to immobilize proteins and enzymes to fabricate stable biofunctionalized surfaces. He is also investigating the fundamental interactions between charged surfactants and polyelectrolytes within multilayer assemblies. The goal of the latter studies is to control molecular orientation of chromophores on polyelectrolyte surfaces and create materials with nonlinear optical properties.

    Areas of Expertise

    • Surface Chemistry
    • Nano-Materials
    • Self-Assembly
    • Nonlinear Optics
  • Work


    Understanding Nanomaterials (Taylor & Francis, 2011)

    With A. Nadim (CGU), A. Niemz (KGI), T. Zwang ('11) and J. Lin ('14), "Multiphasic DNA Adsorption to Silica Surfaces under Varying Buffer, pH, and Ionic Strength Conditions" in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B 16, pp. 5661-5670.

    With T. Zwang ('11), W. Fletcher ('12), and T. Lane ('10), "Quantification of the Layer of Hydration of a Supported Lipid Bilayer," Langmuir(7), 4598-4601, 2010

    "Electrostatic Self-Assembly Methods of Fabricating Enzymatic Surfaces" in Soft Nanomaterials (American Scientific Publishers, 2009, 209-231)

    With C. Selassie, M. Gormally '11 and R. McKibben '09, "Controlling Tyrosinase Activity on Charged Polyelectrolyte Surfaces: A QCM-D Analysis," Langmuir, 25 (17), pp 10014-10019, 2009

    With P. Davies, “Structural Changes in a Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Assembly Investigated by Reflection Absorption Infrared Spectroscopy and Sum Frequency Generation Spectroscopy,” in Journal of Physical Chemistry B 113:6, pp. 1559-68, 2009

    "Molecular Order in Langmuir-Blodgett Assembled Films of an Azobenzene Amphiphile," Thin Solid Films, 517, 4639-4643, 2009

    With C. Selassie, A. Yang '10 and PR. Rawle '08, "A Quartz Crystal Microbalance Study of Polycation-Supported Single and Double Stranded DNA Surfaces," Biomacromolecules 9(12), 3416-3421, 2008

    With C.R.D. Selassie and R. Rawle ’08,“A Real-Time QCM-D Approach to Monitoring Mammalian DNA Damage Using DNA Adsorbed to a Polyelectrolyte Surface,” Biomacromolecules 9(1), pp. 9-12, 2008

  • Education


    University of Cambridge

    Bachelor of Science
    University of Warwick

  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    U.S. Department of Energy, Synthesis and Processing Center, Grant, Collaborator “Nanotribology: Experimental and Computational Lubrication at the Nanoscale,” Los Alamos National Laboratory, 2003

    Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Award for Undergraduate Institutions, 2000

    U.S. Department of Energy, Laboratory Directed Research and Development Grant, Collaborator- exploring the orientation of NLO-active chromophore blocks within polyelectrolyte multilayer assemblies, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1999–2000