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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 Design and Manufacturing
Advanced Materials Science and Engineering
Biomechanical and Biomedicine Engineering
Clean Energy Technology
Complex Systems
Nano and Micro-scale Engineering
Robotics and Intelligent Mechanical Systems

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 seven 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. Fan#, Z. Z. Yin#, R. Cheung, F. Q. Zhu, A. Levchenko, R. C. Cammarata, C. L. Chien and A. Levchenko, “Sub-cellular resolution delivery of a cytokine via precisely manipulated nanowires”, Nature Nanotechnology, 5, 545, (2010).(link)
    Featured story by Nature Nanotechnology volume 5, page 481: “Nanowires have cells in their sights”, July, 2010. Highlighted by National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, and news agencies including Sciencedaily, Physorg, Chemical Views, Nanotechwire, Eurekalert, etc.

  2. K. Kim#, X. B. Xu#, J. H. Guo# and Donglei Fan*, ” Ultrahigh-Speed Rotating Nanoelectromechanical System Devices Assembled from Nanoscale Building Blocks”, Nature Communications5, 3632 (2014) (link).

  3. Zexi Liang and Donglei Fan*, “Visible-Light-Gated Reconfigurable Rotary Actuation of Electric Nanomotors”, Science Advances, 4, eaau0981 (2018). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau0981 (link), featured by UT NewsNano TodayMaterials TodayIEEE SpectrumForbesASEE First BellScience DailyPhysorgEurekAlert, and The Daily Texan among numerous news agencies.

  4. 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).

  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 doi: 10.1016/j.nantod.2019.100799 (2019) (link).

  6. Jingang Li, Yaoran Liu, Linhan Lin, Mingsong Wang, Taizhi Jiang, Jianhe Guo, Pavana Siddhartha Kollipara, Yuji Inoue, Donglei (Emma) Fan, Brian A. Korgel, Yuebing Zheng, “Solid-phase optical nanomanipulation via optothermally-gated photon nudging”, Nature Communications, 10, 5672 (2019) (link).

  7. Hyungmok Joh and Donglei (Emma) Fan*, “Materials and Schemes of Multimodal Reconfigurable Micro/nanomachines and Robots: Review and Perspective”, Advanced Materials, doi:10.1002/adma.202101965 (2021) (link).

  8. Yun Huang, Kang Yu, Huaizhi Li, Kai Xu, Zexi Liang, Debora Walker, Paulo Ferreira, Peer Fischer, and Donglei (Emma) Fan*, “Scalable Fabrication of Molybdenum Disulfide Nanostructures and their Assembly”,Advanced Materials, 32, 2003439, (2020) (link), featured by UT Cockrell School of EngineeringNCYTAzoMaterialsNanowerkEurekAlertAzonanoScienMag and

  9. Jianhe Guo#, Zexi Liang#, Yun Huang, Kwanoh Kim, Peter Vandeventer, and Donglei (Emma) Fan*, “Acceleration of Biomolecule Enrichment and Detection with Rotationally Motorized Opto-plasmonic Microsensors and the Working Mechanism”, ACS Nano, 14, 15204–15215, doi: 10.1021/acsnano.0c05429 (2020) (link), featured by UT Cockrell School of EngineeringScience DailyPhys.orgThe Medical NewsScienMagEurekAlert, and AzoSensors.

  10. 1Weigu Li, Zheng Li, Karina Bertelsmann, and Donglei Fan*, “Portable Low-Pressure Solar Steaming-Collection Uni-system with Polypyrrole Origamis”, Advanced Materials, 31, 1900720 (2019) doi:10.1002/adma.201900720 (link), featured by UT News, UT ME News, PBS TV station, First Bell,, Science Daily, and ECN among many news agencies.

  11. Jianhe Guo, Jeremie J. Gallegos, Ashley R. Tom, and Donglei (Emma) 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 (link).

  12. Weigu Li, Marshall Tekell, Yun Huang, Max Lau, and Donglei Fan*, “Synergistic High-Rate Solar Steaming and Mercury Removal with MoS2/C @ Polyurethane Composite Sponges”, Advanced Energy Materials, 8, 1802108 (2018) DOI: 10.1002/aenm.201802108 (link), featured by The Daily Texan.

  13. Weigu Li, Marshall C Tekell, Chang Liu, Jacob A Hethcock, and Donglei 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) (link).

  14. Jianhe Guo, Andrew Chan, Weigu Li, and Donglei 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 (link).

  15. Weigu Li, Jianhe Guo, and Donglei 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 (link). (featured on the front cover)

  16. Longjun Li, Chao Liu, Guang He and Donglei 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 (link).

  17. X. B. Xu, K. Kim and Donglei Fan*, “Tunable Release of Multiplex Biochemicals by Plasmonically-Active Rotary Nanomotors”, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 54, 2525–2529 (2015) (link).

  18. K. Kim, J. H. Guo, X. B. Xu and D. L. Fan*, ” Micromotors with Step-Motor Characteristics by Controlled Magnetic Interactions among Assembled Components”, ACS Nano, 9, 548–554 (2015) (link).

  19. K. Kim, F. Q. Zhu, and Donglei Fan*, “Innovative Mechanism for Precision Assembling and Actuation of Arrays of Nanowire Oscillators “, ACS Nano, 7, 3476–3483 (2013) (link).

  20. X. B. Xu, K. Kim, H. Li, Donglei Fan*, ” Ordered Arrays of Raman Nanosensors for Ultrasensitive and Location Predictable Biochemical Detection “, Advanced Materials, 24, 5457 (2012) (link).(Ranked top 40 most accessed articles for August 16 and featured on the backcover of the journal)

  21. D. Fan*, F. Q. Zhu, R. C. Cammarata* and C. L. Chien, “Electric Tweezers”, Nano Today, 6, 339 (2011) (Invited article) (link).