Sheng Xu

Assistant Professor, NanoEngineering, UC San Diego

Professor Sheng Xu was appointed in July 2015 as a member of the faculty in the Department of NanoEngineering at UC San Diego. Xu was a postdoctoral research associate in Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory from 2011 to 2015 at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he developed advanced wearable electronic systems for healthcare and energy applications. He received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in 2010 at Georgia Institute of Technology, and was the recipient of the 2011 IUPAC Prize for Young Chemists for his Ph.D. research on oxide nanowire arrays for energy sciences. He obtained his B.S. in Chemistry and Molecular Engineering from Peking University in Beijing, China in 2006. 

Professor Xu's research focus on wearable devices that are capable of acquiring multichannel physiological signals from the human body represent an important trend for healthcare monitoring and precision medicine. The resulting search for pliable building blocks calls for approaches to bridge the gap between conventional high performance hard materials and soft biology. Combined strategies of materials design and advanced microfabrication on the system level present unique opportunities.

My group aims to develop a rationally designed “island-bridge” matrix that allows hybridizing hard materials with soft substrates. Specifically, the hard components are integrated on the predefined distributed islands, and the wavy bridges will buckle out of the plane to absorb the externally applied stress. The result is a fully functional system that is rigid locally in the islands, but soft globally that enables conformal integration with the curvilinear human body. Demonstrated prototypes include a multichannel health monitor that can sense local field potentials, temperature, breathing pattern, acceleration, and orientation, and wirelessly transmit the acquired data to the backend receiver via Bluetooth. This is a platform technology, which holds profound implications for integrating a broad range of sensors, actuators, and circuit components, for diagnosing and treating a broad range of health conditions.