Michael Rubinstein

Michael Rubinstein

Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Professor of Biomedical Engineering (Joint)

Professor of Physics (Joint)

Professor of Chemistry (Joint)

Office Location: 
3377 Fciemas Building, Box 90300, Durham, NC 27708
Front Office Address: 
3377 Fciemas Building, Box 90300, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 660-5365


The research of the Rubinstein group is in the field of polymer theory and computer simulations. The unique properties of polymeric systems are due to the size, topology and interactions of the molecules they are made of. Our goal is to understand the properties of various polymeric systems and to design new systems with even more interesting and useful properties.

Our approach is based upon building and solving simple molecular models of different polymeric systems. The models we develop are simple enough to be solved either analytically or numerically, but contain the main features leading to unique properties of real polymers. Computer simulations of our models serve as an important bridge between analytical calculations and experiments.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Harvard University 1983

Selected Grants

Engineering Technologies to Determine Causal Relationships Between Chromatin Structure and Gene Regulation awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2022

Center for the Chemistry of Molecularly Optimized Networks awarded by National Science Foundation (Co Investigator). 2018 to 2021

Rubinstein, Michael. “Theoretical Challenges in Polymer Dynamics.” Theoretical Challenges in the Dynamics of Complex Fluids, edited by T. McLeish, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997, pp. 21–51.

Button, Brian, et al. “Roles of mucus adhesion and cohesion in cough clearance..” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 115, no. 49, Dec. 2018, pp. 12501–06. Epmc, doi:10.1073/pnas.1811787115. Full Text

Rubinstein, Michael, et al. “Structure of Liquid Coacervates formed by Oppositely Charged Polyelectrolytes..” Macromolecules, vol. 51, no. 23, Dec. 2018, pp. 9572–88. Epmc, doi:10.1021/acs.macromol.8b02059. Full Text

Ge, Ting, et al. “Nanorheology of Entangled Polymer Melts..” Physical Review Letters, vol. 120, no. 5, Feb. 2018. Epmc, doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.057801. Full Text

Zhou, Jinsheng, et al. “Enhanced nanochannel translocation and localization of genomic DNA molecules using three-dimensional nanofunnels.” Nature Communications, vol. 8, no. 1, Springer Nature, Dec. 2017. Crossref, doi:10.1038/s41467-017-00951-4. Full Text

Peters, Brandon L., et al. “Polymers at Liquid/Vapor Interface.” Acs Macro Letters, vol. 6, no. 11, American Chemical Society (ACS), Nov. 2017, pp. 1191–95. Crossref, doi:10.1021/acsmacrolett.7b00466. Full Text

Wagner, Caroline E., et al. “A Rheological Study of the Association and Dynamics of MUC5AC Gels.” Biomacromolecules, vol. 18, no. 11, American Chemical Society (ACS), Nov. 2017, pp. 3654–64. Crossref, doi:10.1021/acs.biomac.7b00809. Full Text

Simon, Joseph R., et al. “Programming molecular self-assembly of intrinsically disordered proteins containing sequences of low complexity..” Nature Chemistry, vol. 9, no. 6, June 2017, pp. 509–15. Epmc, doi:10.1038/nchem.2715. Full Text

Jacobson, David R., et al. “Single-stranded nucleic acid elasticity arises from internal electrostatic tension.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114, no. 20, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 2017, pp. 5095–100. Crossref, doi:10.1073/pnas.1701132114. Full Text

Gonzalez, Mark A., et al. “Strong, Tough, Stretchable, and Self-Adhesive Hydrogels from Intrinsically Unstructured Proteins..” Advanced Materials (Deerfield Beach, Fla.), vol. 29, no. 10, Mar. 2017. Epmc, doi:10.1002/adma.201604743. Full Text

Ge, Ting, et al. “Nanoparticle Motion in Entangled Melts of Linear and Nonconcatenated Ring Polymers.” Macromolecules, vol. 50, no. 4, American Chemical Society (ACS), Feb. 2017, pp. 1749–54. Crossref, doi:10.1021/acs.macromol.6b02632. Full Text


Rubinstein, Michael. “Polymer physics-The ugly duckling story: Will polymer physics ever become a part of “proper” physics?.” Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics, vol. 48, no. 24, Wiley, 2010, pp. 2548–51. Crossref, doi:10.1002/polb.22135. Full Text

Rubinstein, Michael, and Audrey V. Dobrynin. “Associations leading to formation of reversible networks and gels.” Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science, vol. 4, no. 1, Elsevier BV, Feb. 1999, pp. 83–87. Crossref, doi:10.1016/s1359-0294(99)00013-8. Full Text