UCSB Engineering

Sumita Pennathur

Associate Professor

Mechanical Engineering

Sumita Pennathur


Engineering Science Building, 3231C
UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106

tel: (805) 893-5510
fax: (805) 893-8651

Personal web site

This image is a typical microfluidic channel used in Pennathur Lab. Chemical and biological analytes are electrokinetically driven through the channel, and by monitoring the flow, information about the analytes (such as charge, size, and zeta potential) can be deduced.

Research Description

The research in the Pennathur Laboratory is focused on novel studies of chemical and biological species using fabricated micro- and nanoscale devices. The scope of the research program is broad, spanning the fields of Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering. The research goals are also broad, focusing on the fundamental science of nanoscale systems, while also exploring exciting technological possibilities. Major efforts include, general electrokinetics, creating and developing enabling micro- and nanofluidic tools to identify and characterize chemical and biological compounds, improving current bionalaytical devices, and designing/engineering entire systems for point-of-care usage.

Research Groups


Pennathur began at UCSB in the Mechanical Engineering department in July 2007. Her research group focuses on using fundamental fluidics knowledge at both micro- and nano -scales to create novel devices for practical applications. Prior to coming to UCSB, Pennathur taught at University of Twente and held multiple positions at various companies and schools such as Sandia National Laboratories, Stanford University, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Tigris Corporation, Lockheed Martin, and MIT. She is the co-author of one textbook and general audience textbook on Nanotechnology, and has won multiple awards including the DARPA Young Faculty award and the PECASE (Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineers).


  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • Sigma Gamma Tau National Honor Society


  • PECASE, 2010
  • Best Mentor Award, Sandia National Laboratories Summer Intern Program, 2006
  • Best Poster Award, Gordon Research Conference in Microfluidics, 2005
  • Stanford Graduate Fellowship, 2002-2005
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, 2000-2001
  • James Mean Memorial Award for Excellence in Space Systems Engineering, 2000
  • Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society

Selected Publications

  • Energy Conversion in Nanochannels: Will it ever be enough to be useful?, Lab On a Chip, Submitted, 2007, Pennathur, S. and van de Berg, A.
  • Free Solution Oligonucleotide separation in Nanoscale Channels, Anal. Chem., May: Submitted, 2007, Pennathur, S., Baldessari, F , Kattah, M., Steinman, J., Utz, PJ, and Santiago, JG.
  • ICEO around a floating electrode in a nanofluidic channel, In Prep., 2007, Pennathur, S., Vermier, S., Wijnperle, D., Eijkel, J., and van den Berg, A.
  • Microfluidic Design Guidelines, Lab On a Chip, Submitted, 2007, Pennathur, S. and Huber D.
  • “Electrokinetic Characterization of Quartz Nanochannel Surfaces”, In Prep., 2007, Pennathur, S.
  • “Nonlinear capacitive electrokinetic effects around a floating electrode in a nanofluidic channel, Physics and Chemistry of Microfluids, 2007, Pennathur S, Vermier, S., Wijnperle, D., Eijkel, J., van de Berg, A.
  • Electrokinetic Transport in Nanochannels: 1. Theory, Anal. Chem., Vol. 77, no. 21,, 2005, p.6772-6781, Pennathur, S, and Santiago, JG.
  • Electrokinetic Transport in Nanochannels: 2. Experiments, Anal. Chem., Vol.77, no. 21, 2005, p.6782-6789, Pennathur, S, and Santiago, JG.