Marcus Lay

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Professor Lay joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry at Cooper Union in 2014.  He teaches a variety of courses related to analytical chemistry, nanoscience, and electrochemistry.  Dr. Lay’s research allows graduate and undergraduate researchers to obtain expertise in a wide variety of techniques used in chemistry, engineering, nanoscience, and the electronics industry.  This includes atomic force microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, uv-vis spectroscopy, mid-IR spectroscopy, electrochemistry, nano-particle separation, fluorescence spectroscopy, and nanoparticle dispersion.

Prior to joining Cooper Union, Prof. Lay was a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Georgia, where he established a modern materials research laboratory.  Before that, he was a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the Flynn Research Group in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Chemical Engineering, at Columbia University in New York City.  There, he used scanning probe microscopy methods to study the self-assembly of various molecular systems.  Previously, he was a National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Fellow, working in the Electronic Materials Branch at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C.  This work involved developing new methods to incorporate single-walled carbon nanotubes into device structures to achieve enhanced chemical detection.  Prof. Lay received his Ph. D. in Chemistry from the University of Georgia.  The focus of his dissertation was scanning tunneling microscopy studies of the electrochemical formation of compound semiconductors.  He has published over 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts and abstracts, 4 book chapters, and presented over 40 invited and 30 contributed seminars.

Nanoscience involves the study and manipulation of systems that are smaller than 100 nm.  These materials are of great interest because they often exhibit novel properties that are caused by their small size.  Over the next few years, nanoscience is expected to yield many revolutionary discoveries in areas as diverse as energy conversion/storage, electronics/semiconductors, sensing and medicine.

Of particular interest in nanoscience are single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs), as they show great technological promise due to their enhanced electrical and mechanical properties.  When a better understanding of how to control and manipulate their properties is attained, SWNTs are expected to play a central role in the development of numerous new materials.  At the forefront of research in this group are the following two areas of central importance in carbon nanotube electronics: I) development of non-damaging methods for creating suspensions of high-aspect-ratio SWNTs and II) developing new routes to understanding, controlling and predicting the chemical and electrochemical properties of 2-dimensional networks of SWNTs for use in a wide variety of electronic materials.


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.