Faculty Directory
Seth Lichter

Professor of Mechanical Engineering


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech L493
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

847-467-1885Email Seth Lichter


Statistical Mechanics, Fluid Mechanics and Energy


Mechanical Engineering


Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Graduate Program


Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, MIT, Cambridge, MA

M.S. Aerospace Engineering, MIT, Cambridge, MA

B.A. Engineering and Applied Physics, Harvard University, Cambirdge, MA

Research Interests

Professor Lichter studies dynamics on the molecular scale. He is currently working on four projects. He and Prof. Chris Goedde of DePaul University are investigating they dynamics of long chain polymers. Together with Prof. Anupam Garg of the Physics Department we are studying how molecules diffuse over complex surfaces. Finally, we are investigating the molecular mechanisms by which liquid moves over a solid under shear. Though we make extensive use of computation, our emphasis is on developing simple analytical models and finding closed-form analytical approximate solutions. We enjoy taking very complicated problems, which may be too large even for numerical computation, and trimming them down using physical insight and novel mathematics. 

Significant Recognition

  • Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award
  • Clemens Herschel Prize for Excellence in Engineering

Selected Publications

  • Len, Michelle; Ramasamy, Uma Shantini; Lichter, Seth; Martini, Ashlie, Thickening Mechanisms of Polyisobutylene in Polyalphaolefin, Tribology Letters 66(1) (2018).
  • Ramasamy, Uma Shantini; Lichter, Seth H; Martini, Ashlie, Effect of Molecular-Scale Features on the Polymer Coil Size of Model Viscosity Index Improvers, Tribology Letters 62(2) (2016).
  • Sisan, Tom B.; Yi, Taeil; Roxin, Alex; Lichter, Seth, Liquid slip at the molecular scale, CRC Press (2016).

In the Classroom

Next year, I'll be teaching a new course on Modeling Energy in Society. As you know, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. So, there's always enough energy! But, it has to be processed and distributed. This course treats the role of energy as a causative agent in the growth of society throughout history and how communities, held together by available energy, further enhance their growth and well-being by creating efficient energy infrastructures. Rather than just reading about this fascinating and critical history, we will be formulating mathematical models and running numerical simulations to discover just how energy and society interact.

I teach an undergraduate course on Molecular Motors in Biology. This course grew out of an interest of mine in the dynamics of proteins. Check out the course web page which has interactive applets showing how polymers grow and molecular motors move.
I also teach a graduate-level course on Nonlinear Dynamics. This is an interdisciplinary course, one of the few at the university (perhaps the only one!) which is cross-listed in eight departments both here in the Engineering School as well as in the School of Arts and Sciences. Not only do we get to learn new techniques for solving equations, the students, appropriate to their diverse backgrounds, apply these techniques to a range of applications from looking at the spiral patterns on cacti to modeling global warming. See a few of the topics we've studied by clicking here.