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Photo of Fan, Donglei
Office Location: ETC 9.154

Donglei "Emma" Fan

Associate Professor

Robert & Jane Mitchell Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Engineering

Department Research Areas:
Advanced Materials Science and Engineering

Dr. Donglei “Emma” Fan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a faculty member of the Materials Science and Engineering Program, Texas Materials Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. She holds the Robert & Jane Mitchell Endowed Faculty Fellowship in Engineering since 2017. Prof. Fan received her bachelor’s degree in the Department of Intensive Instruction (DII), an honor program designed for talented undergraduate students, from Nanjing University (NJU), two master’s degrees in Materials Science (2013) and Electric Engineering (2015), and a doctorate degree in Materials Science and Engineering (2017), all from The Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

Prof. Fan’s research focuses on intelligentizing, robotizing, assembling, and manufacturing micro/nanostructured particles, 3D hierarchical porous materials, and stimulus-responsive materials via understanding and exploiting fundamental materials science, physics, and chemistry. She strategically designs and fabricates for applications in robotics, biomedicine, environment, energy, and self-powered systems. She is an inventor of the patent awarded “Electric Tweezers” technique that can precisely manipulate longitudinal nanoscale materials in aqueous suspension by combined AC and DC electric fields. Her team also discovered the effect of light-semiconductor-electric-field interaction that can be applied to realize multimodal reconfigurable nanodevices. Prof. Fan’s research has spurred a series of publications in leading journals, including Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Communications, Science Advances, the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, Physical Review Letters, and Advanced Materials. She is an inventor of six granted patents and a few pending patents.

Among various honors, Prof. Fan has been admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry since 2021 and served as an invited Official Nominator of the Japan Prize since 2017. She received the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2012. Her research on the bottom-up assembling of artificial nanomotors was included in Science Year by Year, DK Smithsonian (2017) and selected as the #3 of “10 discoveries that will shape the future in 2014” by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Focus magazine. Prof. Fan received the Texas Health Catalyst Consulting Award (2020), and was honored as a Recognized Mentor by the Siemens Foundation (2012). She was one of 30 young US engineers invited to attend the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) 2013 EU-US Frontier of Engineering Symposium in France and selected to participate in the National (NAS) Arab-American Frontiers of Science, Engineering, and Medicine symposium in 2014. Prof. Fan was a finalist of the Beckman Young Investigator Award (24 finalists nationwide), a finalist of the 2015 SXSW Interactive Innovation Award, and featured by “Woman in Nanoscience,” an NSF-sponsored scientific blog highlighting achievements of woman scientists in the US. She received the NSF Graduate Student Sponsorship Award to attend the NEMS summer school at the California Institute of Technology in 2006. Exempted from the National College Examination, she received early admission to the honor program for talented undergraduates in NJU and was awarded the Freshman Merit Scholarship (1995). She won multiple prestigious prizes in various academic competitions in Physics (both national and provincial), Biology (provincial), and Mathematics (regional) in high school and middle school.

Selected Publications
  1. D. L. Fan, Z. Z. Yin, R. Cheong, F. Q. Zhu, R. C. Cammarata, C. L. Chien, A. Levchenko, "Sub-Cellular resolution delivery of a cytokine through precisely manipulated nanowires", Nature Nanotechnology, Vol. 5, (2010), pp. 545 - 551
  2. Kwanoh Kim, X. B. Xu, J. H. Guo and D. L. Fan , "Ultrahigh speed rotating nanomotors assembled from nanoscale building blocks", Nature Communications, Vol. 5, (2014), pp. 3632
  3. Zexi Liang, Daniel Teal, and Donglei (Emma) Fan*,”Light Programmable Micro/Nanomotors with Optically Tunable In-Phase Electric Polarization”, Nature Communications, 10, 5275 (2019) (link). doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13255-6
  4. Zexi Liang and Donglei Fan*, “Visible-Light-Gated Reconfigurable Rotary Actuation of Electric Nanomotors”, Science Advances, 4, eaau0981 (2018) (link). doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aau0981, featured by UT NewsNano TodayMaterials TodayIEEE Spectrum, Forbes, ASEE First Bell, Science Daily, Physorg, EurekAlert, and The Daily Texan among numerous news agencies.
  5. Weigu Li, Yun Huang, Yifei Liu, Marshall Tekell, and Donglei (Emma) Fan*, “Three Dimensional Nanosuperstructures Made of Two-Dimensional Materials by Design: Synthesis, Properties, and Applications”, Nano Today, 29, 100799 (2019) (link) doi: 10.1016/j.nantod.2019.100799

Most Recent Publications

  1. Jianhe Guo, Jeremie J. Gallegos, Ashley R. Tom, and D. L. Fan*, "Electric-Field Guided Precision Manipulation of Catalytic Nanomotors for Cargo Delivery and Powering Nanoelectromechanical Devices", ACS Nano, 12, 1179-1187 (2018) doi: 10.1021/acsnano.7b06824
  2. K. Kim, J. H. Guo, Z. X. Liang, and D. L. Fan*, "Artificial Micro/Nanomachines for Bio-applications: Biochemical Delivery and Diagnostic Sensing", Advanced Functional Materials, 28, 1705867 (2018) DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201705867
  3. Jing Liu#, Jianhe Guo#, Guowen Meng and D. L. Fan*, "Superstructural Raman Nanosensors with Integrated Dual Functions for Ultrasensitive Detection and Tunable Release of Molecules", Chemistry of Materials, DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.8b01979 (2018)
  4. Weigu Li, Marshall C Tekell, Chang Liu, Jacob A Hethcock, and D. L. Fan*, "Flexible All-Solid-State Supercapacitors of High Areal Capacitance Enabled by Porous Graphite Foams with Diverging Microtubes", Advanced Functional Materials, DOI:10.1002/adfm.201800601 (2018)
  5. W. G. Li, X. B. Xu, C. Liu, M. Tekell, J. Ning, J. H. Guo, J. C. Zhang, and D. L. Fan*, "Ultralight and Binder-Free All-Solid-State Flexible Supercapacitors for Powering Wearable Strain Sensors", Advanced Functional Materials, 27, 1702738, (2017) DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201702738
  6. Jianhe Guo, Andrew Chan, Weigu Li, and D. L. Fan*, "Kirkendall Effect in Creating Three-Dimensional Metal Catalysts for Hierarchically Porous Ultrathin Graphite with Unique Properties", Chemistry of Materials, 29, 4991–4998 (2017) DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.7b01518
  7. Weigu Li, Jianhe Guo, and D. L. Fan*, "Three-Dimensional Graphite-Polymer Flexible Strain Sensors with Ultrasensitivity and Durability for Real-Time Human Vital Sign Monitoring and Musical Instrument Education", Advanced Materials Technologies, 2, 1700070 (2017) DOI: 10.1002/admt.201700070
  8. C. Liu, Z. Wang, E. Li, X. Liang, S. Chakravarty, X C. Xu, A. X. Wang*, Ray T. Chen* and D. L. Fan*, "Electrokinetic-Manipulation Integrated Plasmonic-Photonic Hybrid Raman Nanosensors with Dually Enhanced Sensitivity", ACS Sensors, 2, 346–353 (2017)
  9. K. Kim, Z. X. Liang, M. L. Liu, and D. L. Fan*, "Biobased High-Performance Rotary Micromotors for Individually Reconfigurable Micromachine Arrays and Microfluidic Applications", ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 9, 6144-6152 (2017)
  10. Longjun Li, Chao Liu, Guang He and D. L. Fan, and Arumugam Manthiram, "Design of Hierarchical Pore-in-Pore and Wire-in-Wire Catalysts for Rechargeable Hybrid Li-air Batteries with Ultra-long Cycle Life and High Cell Efficiency", Energy & Environmental Science, 8, 3274- 3282 (2015) doi: 10.1039/C5EE02616D