Jeff Terry is a professor in the Physics and Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering Departments at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where his main research focus is on energy systems. He has served as the Interim Chair in the Department of Social Sciences from 2020 and the Interim Chair of Biology from Jan 2023. His group works to develop new ways of dealing with radioactive waste; to understand radiation damage mechanisms in materials; and to synthesize novel materials for energy storage and conversion. Prior to joining the faculty at Illinois Tech, he was a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. There, he worked on the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), and was a member of the team that sent the first waste shipment to WIPP. He is a former scientific director of the Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User Facility. Terry received his doctorate in chemical physics from Stanford University in 1997 after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1990.


B.S. University of Chicago
Ph.D. Stanford University

Research Interests

My training is as a physical chemist with a specialization in synchrotron radiation techniques. I have extensive experience using a variety of analytical techniques to examine surface chemistry and to solve the problems of materials at surfaces. Presently, my interests lie in studying biomaterials chemistry using synchrotron radiation techniques.

I have used soft X-ray techniques such photoelectron (PES), X-ray emission (SXE), and X-ray absorption spectroscopes (XAS) to determine electronic and geometric structures of many systems. These techniques are direct probes of the electronic structure of an interface and I put these techniques to use studying the chemistry of biomaterials. For example, in the case of a metalloprotein, it would be possible to determine: the oxidation state of the metal, the number of metals atoms present, and the direction of charge transfer in the molecule. Local atomic structure (bond lengths, angles, bonding sites) can also be determined using these techniques due to interference properties of the emitted photon (fluorescence holography (SXE)) or photoelectron (photoelectron diffraction (PED), extended X-ray absorption fine structure (XAS)). Extracting this information from the experimental data requires the use of first principles, quantum mechanical calculations.

Specifically, I would like to use these techniques to improve our understanding of the following areas:

  • Metal interactions with bacteria, necessary for understanding bioremediation
  • Physicochemical states of metals in diseased tissue
  • Oxidation state and local atomic structure of metals in pharmaceuticals
  • Local atomic structure of artificial bone materials


Google Scholar Profile


Electronic Structure, Radiochemistry, Radiation Damage, Multilayer Structures, Synchrotron Radiation Characterization

Jeffrey Terry

Contact Information

630.252.9708 312.567.3576 166B Robert A. Pritzker Science Center