Robert Hovden Joins UM MSE as Assistant Professor

Robert Hovden Joins UM MSE as Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor Robert Hovden

Robert Hovden joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering as an Assistant Professor in Winter 2017.


Hovden’s research can be broadly described as “the photography of atoms—a privilege afforded by precisely sculpted sub-Angstrom electron beams.” Utilizing electron microscopy, he unveils new understanding of how structure at the atomic and nanoscale determines material properties at the macroscale—spanning a wide class of systems including two-dimensional materials, next-generation energy devices, and biominerals.


“Modern materials are designed atomic layer by atomic layer with architectural complexity extending into the third dimension. Probing matter across sub-Angstrom to micron length scales in both two and three dimensions is therefore integral to the hierarchical engineering and design of future materials,” states Hovden. His work has pushed the limits of 3D measurement with electron tomography for the optimization of hydrogen fuel cell catalysts. More recently, he uncovered the control of charge density waves down to the ultrathin limit of TaS2 using cryogenic scanning transmission electron microscopy.


Robert received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics at Cornell University where he focused on the physics of aberration corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy for the study of materials. After completing his doctoral work in atomic resolution characterization under Prof. David Muller he pursued low temperature measurements of atomic structure under the expertise of Prof. Lena Kourkoutis.


At Michigan, Hovden’s lab will continue working with sub-Angstrom electron beams to uncover structural insights spanning the length scale of a single atom to billions of atoms in two and three dimensions.


More about Robert can be found at: or


  • Atomic lattice disorder in charge-density-wave phases of exfoliated dichalcogenides (1T-TaS2), R. Hovden, A. W. Tsen, B. Savitzky, P. Liu, I. Baggari, Y. Liu, W. Lu, Y. Sun, P. Kim, A.N. Pasupathy, L.F. Kourkoutis, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 113, 11420 (2016)
  • Nanoscale assembly processes revealed in the nacroprismatic transition zone of Pinna nobilis mollusc shells, R. Hovden*, S.E. Wolf*, M.E. Holtz, F. Marin, D.A. Muller, L.A. Estroff, Nature Comm. 6, 10097 (2015)
  • Breaking the Crowther limit: Combining depth-sectioning and tilt tomography for high-resolution, wide-field 3D reconstructions, R. Hovden, P. Ercius, Y. Jiang, D. Wang, Y. Yu, H. D. Abruña, V. Elser, D.A. Muller, Ultramicroscopy 140, 26 (2014).
  • Channeling of a subangstrom electron beam in a crystal mapped to two-dimensional molecular orbitals, R. Hovden, H.L. Xin, D.A. Muller, Phys. Rev. B 86 195415 (2012)