Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering; Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering


Professor Cheng devoted his research career to precision medicine through manipulation of photons and waves. Since he moved from Purdue to BU in summer 2017, Professor Cheng has published 132 peer-reviewed articles (google scholar h-index 97) from 2017 to 2023. In the same period, Professor Cheng has secured $23.8 million research funding as PI. His research has been recognized by the 2024 Charles Delisi Award from BU College of Engineering, the 2024 Biophotonics Technology Innovator Award from International Society for Optics and Photonics, the 2022 Boston University Innovator of Year, the 2020 Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Award, and the 2019 Ellis R. Lippincott Award from Optica. Cheng and his team invented a series of chemical microscopes that utilize spectroscopic signals to map molecular interactions inside a living system temporally and spatially (For a review, “Vibrational spectroscopic imaging of living systems: an emerging platform for biology and medicine”, Science 2015, 350:aaa8870). His team has been constantly breaking the fundamental limits of chemical microscopy, and making new scientific discoveries from observation of subtleties and via cross-disciplinary collaborations. His inventions, including CARS microscope, multiplex SRS microscope, and mid-infrared photothermal microscope, have become products used by many researchers in different countries. Among the applications, his group discovered metabolic markers for aggressive prostate cancer (Cell Metabolism 2014) and human ovarian cancer stem cells (Cell Stem Cell 2017). His group was the first to report label-free imaging of membrane voltage using a vibrational spectroscopic signature (JPC Lett 2017). Towards clinical translation, he and coworkers have developed an intravascular photoacoustic catheter (Phys Rev Lett 2011) for in vivo sensing of lipid-laden plaques at video rate and a fiber optoacoustic guide with augmented reality for precision lumpectomy (Light Sci&Appl 2018). He co-founded Vibronix Inc in 2014 and served as Scientific Advisor of Photothermal Spec Corp founded in 2018, with the mission of disseminating vibrational imaging technologies for life science and medicine. Cheng chaired the inaugural Gordon Research Conference on Chemical Imaging in 2023.

Cheng Group Website



  • 2024: SPIE Biophotonics Technology Award, International Society of Optics and Photonics
  • 2024: Delisi Award, Boston University College of Engineering
  • 2022: Boston University Innovator of the Year
  • 2020: Pittsburgh Spectroscopy Award from Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh
  • 2019: Ellis R. Lippincott Award from OSA, Society for Applied Spectroscopy, Coblentz Society
  • 2019: Fellow of Optical Society of America
  • 2017: Inaugural Moustakas Chair Professor in Optoelectronics and Photonics, Boston University
  • 2016: Purdue University College of Engineering Research Excellence Award
  • 2015: Craver Award from Coblentz Society
  • 2014: Fellow of American Institute of Medicine and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)