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Our research is driven by a desire to understand the fundamental principles governing nanoscale phenomena, and to apply this knowledge to solve real-world problems. Through fundamental innovations in bio-inspired engineering, nanomechanics, nanomanufacturing, and system-level integration, we are developing new paradigms of nanodevices, multi-scale nanoengineered materials, and precision sensing, control, and imaging tools. Our research addresses societal challenges in health, energy, information, and security. 

Non-Hookean Mechanics of Nanostructures

Miniaturization has been an ongoing trend for decades, and recent advances in nanotechnology have successfully pushed the feature sizes of devices, such as transistors and micromachines, into the nanometer scale. At the macroscale, the mechanical properties of materials can be precisely described by elasticity theory. However, as structures become thinner and smaller, they start exhibiting ambiguous behaviors that deviate from conventional mechanics. To push the limits of miniaturization further, we are actively exploring new mechanical phenomena in thin and deformable materials at the nanoscale (Nano Lett. 2020).

nano beams

Non-Hookean nanometer-thick beams

Multiscale Nanoengineered Materials 

Can we significantly reduce the weight of machines such as planes and wind turbines? By harnessing the distinctive properties of nanostructures across multiple scales and advancing nanomanufacturing techniques, we are developing mass-producible nanoengineered materials. These materials offer superior performance for large-scale applications, including lightweight spacecraft, smart and adaptive machines, healthcare devices, and comfortable living environments.


Strong and resilient nanoceramics

Bioacoustics & Bioinspired Nanophone

Traditional sound detection techniques rely on pressure-based sensors, such as microphones, hydrophones, infrasound, and ultrasound transducers. However, these technologies face limitations due to the inherent physics involved, making it challenging to efficiently localize sound, isolate signals, and reject background noise. In our pursuit to overcome these limitations, we made a remarkable discovery: the orb-weaving spider possesses an extraordinary hearing mechanism that utilizes its web as an auditory sensor (PNAS 2022). Inspired by the natural phenomena, we introduced the concept of the bio-inspired flow microphone, which offers an intrinsic directional sound detection scheme by sensing acoustic particle velocity—a vector quantity—rather than relying on scalar pressure measurements (PNAS 2017). Leveraging these bio-inspired strategies, we are addressing emerging needs in areas such as low-noise directional hearing, high-resolution biomedical imaging, and fluid dynamics measurement.

Intrinsic-directional flow microphone (Click to see the Soundskrit video) 

Integrated Micro/Nanosystems & Micromachines

We design, fabricate, and characterize integrated micro/nano-opto-electro-mechanical systems and micromachines for precision sensing, control, and imaging. Recently, we have been developing a new class of X-ray optics based on ultrafast MEMS. This technology allows us to reduce the width of sub-nm-wavelength hard X-ray pulses from hundreds of picoseconds to picoseconds, enabling the investigation of structural dynamics in matter beyond the limits of synchrotron sources (arXiv 2022). 

x-ray mems

On-chip ultrafast X-ray Optics

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