Research Interest

Innovative Mechanisms and Technologies for Nanomanufacturing, Nanomanipulation, and Assembling

Dr.Fan fabricates nanowires, nanorings, nanodiscs, and 3-D nanoporous superstructures. She also invented the "electric tweezers" based on the combined AC and DC electric fields. The electric tweezers can transport nanoparticles with independently controlled orientation and transport direction along arbitrary trajectories. Two nanowires (6 micrometer in length and 300 nm in diameter) with initial separation distance of 180 micrometers can be transported towards each other and connected tip to tip. The precision is at least 300 nm. Nanowires can also rotate seamlessly after transportation. The rotation of the nanowires can be instantly switched on or off with controlled rotation speed (to at least 26000 rpm for a free rotating nanowire), chirality, and total angle of rotation. Recently, Dr. Fan's group discovered an original mechanism that leads to highly efficient reconfigurable operation of semiconductor nanomotors. One can facilely choose and switch the operation modes of Si nanomotors instantly and reversibly, including acceleration, deceleration, stop, and reversal of rotation orientation. The operation of the micro/nanodevice in response to external stimuli can be considered as a mechanical analogy of the field effect transistors, which are the basic building blocks of CPU used in computers, cells phone, laptops, and many electronic instruments.

  • D. L. Fan, F. Q. Zhu, R. C. Cammarata and C. L. Chien, "Controllable high-speed rotation of metallic nanowires", Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 247208 (2005).
  • D. L. Fan, R. C. Cammarata and C. L. Chien, "Precision transport and assembling of nanowires in suspension by electric fields", Appl. Phys. Lett. 92, 093115 (2008).
  • 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).
  • 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 ).
  • 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 News, Forbes, ASEE First Bell, IEEE Spectrum, Science Daily, Physorg, EurekAlert, and Daily Texan.
  • D. L. Fan*, F. Q. Zhu, R. C. Cammarata* and C. L. Chien, "Electric Tweezers", Nano Today, 6, 339 (2011) (Invited article).(link)
  • D. L. Fan*, F. Q. Zhu, X. B. Xu, R. C. Cammarata and C. L. Chien*, "Electronic Properties of Nanoentities Revealed by Mechanical Motion" The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 93099313 (2012)(link).(direct submission without prearranged editors)
  • F.Q. Zhu, D. L. Fan, X. C. Zhu, J. G. Zhu, R. C. Cammarata and C. L. Chien, "Arrays of magnetic nanorings with ultrahigh areal densities", Advanced Materials, 16, 2155 (2004).
  • 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, 49914998 (2017) DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.7b01518 (link).
  • 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) (link).
  • 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) (link).
  • 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 (2019), in press.
  • C. L. Chien, D. L. Fan, and Robert C. Cammarata, "System and Method for Precision transport, Positioning, and Assembling of Longitudinal Nano-structures " (two patents granted, 9,044,808 B2, 2015 and 9,718,683, 2017)
  • Su Chi, R. C. Cammarata, C. L. Chien, Donglei Fan, Stephen Farias, and Danru Qum "Systems and Methods for Separating Metallic and Nonmetallic Particles in a Mixed-Particle Suspension " (patent granted, 9,751,091 September, 2017)
  • D. L. Fan, J. Ning, X. B. Xu, and J. H. Guo "Method for Manufacturing of Three-Dimentional Free Standing Porous Thin-Graphite with Hierarchical Porosity" (patent granted, US9957163, issued on May 1, 2018)
  • W. G. Li and D. L. Fan "Dendritic Materials with Hierarchical Porosity" (provisional patent, 62/468,603, March, 2017)
  • Biochemical Sensing, Delivery, and Tunable Release by Designed Hybrid Optoplasmonic and Plasmonic-Mechanical Nanodevices for Health, Environment, Food Safety, and Defense

    We are very experienced in the design, fabrication, and characterization of plasmonic micro/nanostructures for Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) detection of biochemicals. We also investigate multifunctional Raman nanosensors that can be motorized to analyze chemistry of membranes of a single cell amidst many, release molecules at tunable speeds with mechanical motions, and controllably release biomolecules and detect the kinetic in quasi-real time. Our Raman nanosensors offer ultrahigh sensitivity with an enhancement factor of 10^9 to 10^10 and well reproducible fabrication and sensing capabilities.

  • 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) (link).
  • 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 (link). (featured on the front cover)
  • 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, 346353 (2017) (link) (featured on the front cover).
  • X. B. Xu, H. Li, Dihan Hasan, R. Ruoff, A. X. Wang and D. L. Fan*, "Near-Field Enhanced Magnetic Plasmonic Bifunctional Nanotubes for Single Cell Bioanalysis", Advanced Functional Materials, 23, 4332-4338 (2013)(link)(featured on the front cover and selected for Wiley-VCH's hot topics).
  • X. B. Xu#, Dihan Hasan#,Lei Wang#, Swapnajit Chakravarty, Ray T. Chen, D. L. Fan* and Alan X. Wang*, " Guided-Mode-Resonance-Coupled Plasmonic-Active SiO2 Nanotubes for Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy", Applied Physics Letters, 100, 191114 (2012).(link)
  • X. B. Xu, K. Kim, H. Li, D. L. 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 andfeatured on the backcover of the journal)
  • X. B. Xu, K. Kim and D. L. Fan*, "Tunable Release of Multiplex Biochemicals by Plasmonically-Active Rotary Nanomotors", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 54, 25252529, (2015) DOI: 10.1002/ange.201410754 (link).
  • D. L. Fan, and X. B. Xu, "Plasmonic-Magnetic Bifunctional Nanotubes for Biological Applications " (patent granted, 9,638,639, May, 2017)
  • D. L. Fan, W. G. Li, and J. H. Guo "Stretchable Strain Sensors" (provisional US patent, 62/384,378, September, 2016)
  • Nanorobotics, Micro/Nano Electromechanical System (MEMS/NEMS) Devices, Nanomotors

    We innovate unique nanomanipulation techniques, i.e. the electric tweezers and the recently developed opto-electric reconfigurable nanotweezers, to achieve unprecedented applications, including precision drug delivery to a single live cell, facile assembly and simultaneous actuation of arrays of rotary nanomotors, tunable molecule release with mechanical rotation of nanomotors, and microscale rotary stepmotors, all of which have been the first demonstrations in the field to the best of our knowledge. Our vision is to change the scheme of nanodevices from static to dynamic and from passive to active, equipping them with intelligence for the emerging field of nanorobotics.

  • D. L. 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)
  • 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).
  • 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 News, Forbes, ASEE First Bell, IEEE Spectrum, Science Daily, Physorg, EurekAlert, and Daily Texan.
  • K. Kim#, X. B. Xu#, J. H. Guo# and D. L. Fan*, " Ultrahigh-Speed Rotating Nanoelectromechanical System Devices Assembled from Nanoscale Building Blocks", Nature Communications, 5, 3632 (2014) (link), selected as the #3 of "10 discoveries that will shape the future in 2014" by British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Focus magazine.
  • 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 (link).
  • X. B. Xu, K. Kim and D. L. Fan*, "Tunable Release of Multiplex Biochemicals by Plasmonically-Active Rotary Nanomotors", Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 54, 25252529 (2015) (link).
  • 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, 548554 (2015).(link).
  • J. H. Guo, K. Kim and D. L. Fan*,"Ultra-Durable Rotary Nanomotors Assembled from Nanoentities by Electric Fields", Nanoscale, 7, 11363-11370 (2015) (link) (2015).
  • K. Kim, F. Zhu, and D. L. Fan*, "Innovative Mechanism for Precision Assembling and Actuation of Arrays of Nanowire Oscillators ", ACS Nano, 7, 34763483 (2013) (link).
  • 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 (Feature Article).
  • K. Kim, J. H. Guo, X. B. Xu and D. L. Fan*, "Recent Progress on Man-Made Inorganic Nanomachines", Small, 11, 4037 (2015).(link) (invited review)
  • D. L. Fan*, F. Q. Zhu, R. C. Cammarata* and C. L. Chien, "Electric Tweezers", Nano Today, 6, 339 (2011) (Invited article).(link)
  • D. L. Fan, R. C. Cammarata and C. L. Chien, "Precision transport and assembling of nanowires in suspension by electric fields", Appl. Phys. Lett. 92, 093115 (2008).
  • D. L. Fan, F. Q. Zhu, R. C. Cammarata and C. L. Chien, "Controllable high-speed rotation of metallic nanowires", Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 247208 (2005).
  • D. L. Fan, K. Kim, and J. H. Guo "Electrode Design and a Low-Cost Fabrication Method for Assembling and Actuation of Nanomotors with Ultrahigh and Uniform Speed" (provisional PCT patent, 62047969, September, 2014)
  • 3D Hierarchical Porous Composites for Solar Steaming, Water-Oil Separation, and Flexible Self-Powered Electronic Devices

    We investigate innovative paradigms and rational routes for the synthesis of porous 3D nanosuperstructures by engineering catalysts. A number of 3D porous structures made of metal Ni/Cu, thin graphite, semiconductor ZnO, and MoS2/C composites have been achieved. One patent has been awarded and others are pending. We exploit applications of our 3D porous materials for solar-assisted water purification, water splitting, supercapacitors, and self-powered flexible devices. Recently, our flexible supercapacitors have been integrated with flexible strain sensors for self-powered strain detection. They have also been integrated with nanomotors for portable nanomanipulation systems.

  • 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 ).
  • Weigu Li, Zheng Li, Karina Bertelsmann, and Donglei Fan*, "Portable Low-Pressure Solar Steaming-Collection Uni-system with Polypyrrole Origamis", Advanced Materials, doi:10.1002/adma.201900720 (2019) (link), featured by UT News, UT ME News, PBS TV station, First Bell, Phys.org, Science Daily, and ECN among many news agencies.
  • 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.
  • 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) (link).
  • 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, 49914998 (2017) DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.7b01518 (link).
  • 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 (link) (featured on the inside back cover).
  • C. Liu, X. B. Xu, Alex Rettie, C. Mullins and D. L. Fan*, " One-step Waferscale Synthesis of 3-D ZnO Nanosuperstructures by Designed Catalysts for Substantial Improvement of Solar Water Oxidation Efficiency ", Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 1 , 8111- 8117 (2013) (link) (Featured on the front cover)
  • X. B. Xu, M. Wu, M. Asoro, P. Ferreira and D. L. Fan*, "One-Step Hydrothermal Synthesis of Comb-like ZnO Nanostructures ", Crystal Growth and Design, 12, 4829 (2012).(link).
  • J. Ning#, X. B. Xu#, C. Liu and D. L. Fan*, " Three-Dimensional Multilevel Porous Thin Graphite Nanosuperstructures for Ni(OH)2-based Energy Storage Devices", Journal of Materials Chemistry A 2, 15768-15773 (2014) (link). (Featured on the inside front cover)
  • Longjun Li, Chao Liu, Guang He, 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) (link).
  • D. L. Fan, J. Ning, X. B. Xu, and J. H. Guo, "Method for Manufacturing of Three-Dimentional Free Standing Porous Thin-Graphite with Hierarchical Porosity" (patent granted, US9957163, to be issued on May 1, 2018)
  • W. G. Li and D. L. Fan "Dendritic Materials with Hierarchical Porosity" (provisional patent, 62/468,603, March, 2017)
  • D. L. Fan and W. G. Li, "3-D Compositions with Integrated Conductive Polymers for Water Purification and Oil Separation" (provisional patent, 62/850,279, May, 2019)