Skip to main content
Donglei "Emma" Fan
Office: GLT 3.344

Donglei "Emma" Fan

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Donglei "Emma" Fan is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a faculty member of the Materials Science and Engineering Program and the Texas Materials Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Fan received two prestigious awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the NSF Mid-Career Advancement Award (2022) and the NSF CAREER Award (2012). Dr. Fan is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2021) and an invited Official Nominator of the Japan Prize (2017). She also is the 2022 Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering Ilene Busch-Vishniac Lecturer; the lectureship "features outstanding women in engineering and highlights the intellectual contributions of the lecturers while serving to inspire young women to pursue degrees and careers in engineering". Recently, Dr. Fan has been elected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) to be officially inducted in March 2024.

Prof. Fan's research program focuses on the fabrication, manipulation, and assembly of intelligent, active micro/nanoscale structures, 3D hierarchical porous materials, and stimulus-responsive materials via understanding and exploiting fundamental materials science, physics, and chemistry. The efforts aim at addressing critical problems in robotics, sensing, biomedicine, and water treatment. She also develops precision tools used in biomedical research. 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 with a precision of 20 nm in positioning and 0.5 degrees in angle under a standard microscope. 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. Dr. Fan is particularly interested in technology transfer and entrepreneurship. She is an inventor of eight granted patents and a few pending patents. One patent has been licensed to a startup company.

Prof. Fan received her Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering and two MS degrees, one in Materials Science and another in Electric Engineering, all from The Johns Hopkins University. She received an interdisciplinary education in both chemistry and physics from the Department of Intensive Instruction at Nanjing University, China, an honor program designed for talented undergraduates. She received early admission to the honor program, exempted from the National College Entrance Examination and awarded with a Freshman Merit Scholarship.