Maria Calbi


What I do

Physics researcher and educator committed to create innovative and dynamic learning experiences, inducing change through scientific leadership, education, and community outreach

Professional Biography

Born and raised in Argentina, Prof. Calbi earned her PhD degree in physics at the University of Buenos Aires in 2000. She then completed her training in condensed matter physics at the Pennsylvania State University where she made her first contributions in the theory of gas adsorption on solid surfaces. In 2003, she joined the Physics Department at SIUC, and in 2010 she moved to University of Denver where she has been Associate Professor in the Physics & Astronomy department. One of her main interests lies on determining the ability of a variety of nanostructures to act as adsorbents by developing models and methods that can provide a basic understanding of the adsorption processes and phenomena (equilibrium and kinetics) in nanoporous materials. From a practical perspective, the goal is to provide a rational basis for assessing the performance of a nanostructure for specific adsorption applications that can be used, at the same time, to guide the design of new materials for such uses.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Physical Society


Our main research interests are in the area of surface physics, especially focused on adsorption processes, i.e., the processes by which particles from gases or liquids are attracted to solid surfaces and stick to them forming different kinds of films. The recent (and continuous) emergence of a variety of novel nanostructures that can act as adsorbents has boosted a remarkable amount of research in this field due to both its practical and fundamental implications: On one hand, the size and morphology of these structures make them especially efficient for gas storage and separation applications, including gas purification, environmental remediation and membrane technologies; on the other hand, particles adsorbed on nanostructures are constrained to be in environments of reduced dimensionality where their behavior can be significantly different from that of bulk matter. Both aspects pose important challenges and questions that our research program aims to address. The theoretical methods and models we use are based on combined approaches from statistical mechanics and chemical physics, including computer simulations. Particular efforts are made to formulate models that provide a fundamental understanding of the investigated phenomena, allowing at the same time direct comparison with experimental results. Some of our ongoing research projects include: Adsorption kinetics and transport in nanoporous structures, adsorption of polyatomic molecules on carbon nanotube bundles, and adsorption behavior in nanohorn aggregates.

Key Projects

  • Collaborative Research: Adsorption Equilibration of Binary Mixtures on Planar and Porous Sorbents
  • Collaborative Research - Carbon Nanohorns:Adsorption Kinetics and equilibrium Experiements and Simulations
  • CAREER: Kenietics of Adsorption in Nanopourous Structures

Featured Publications

  • Adsorption Dynamics of Polyatomic Molecules on Carbon Surfaces
  • Equilibration Processes during Gas Uptake Inside Narrow Pores
  • Ethane Adsorption on Aggregates of Dahlia-Like Nanohorns: Experiments and Computer Simulations


  • Adsorption Kinetics of Gases on Carbon Surfaces
  • Adsorption Kinetics of Polyatomic Molecules
  • Adsorption of Binary Gaseous Mixtures of Argon and Methane on Exfoliated Graphite
  • Temperature programmed desorption of a binary gas mixture
  • Adsorption of ethane in carbon nanostructures


  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), National Science Foundation
  • NSF CAREER Award, National Science Foundation
  • Teacher of the Year, DU Society of Physics Students
  • Outstanding Scholar Award, Southern Illinois University
  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, CONICET, Argentina