Zhang Elected Optical Society Fellow

in MSE Spotlight Faculty, MSE Spotlight Research, NEWS

Recognized for MEMS work

By Michael G Seele

Prof. Xin Zhang (ME, MSE)
Prof. Xin Zhang (ME, MSE)

The Optical Society — the leading professional association in optics and photonics — elected Prof. Xin Zhang (ME, MSE) as a Fellow of the Society at its October meeting.

Zhang was recognized for outstanding achievement and contribution in terahertz metamaterials, biophotonics and energy-using microelectromechanical systems. Less than one half of one percent of the society’s members are elected Fellows in any one year, and Fellows make up less than 10 percent of the society’s 19,000 members.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to have been elected as an OSA Fellow,” said Zhang.

A Boston University faculty member since 2002, Zhang leads an interdisciplinary team of researchers focused on micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS or micro/nanosystems), from their fundamental materials and mechanics aspects to their application to real world applications. Her research group–the Laboratory for Microsystems Technology–seeks to understand and exploit fundamental and interesting characteristics of micro/nanomaterials, micro/nanomechanics, and micro/nanomanufacturing technologies with forward-looking engineering efforts and practical applications ranging from energy to health care to homeland security.

Zhang’s research spans across several areas in science and technology of optics and photonics, advancing optomechanical cell sensing platform technologies, electromagnetic metamaterials at terahertz frequencies, and chemical detection and wireless communication in harsh environment. In particular, Zhang has applied MEMS techniques to develop novel, highly functional electromagnetic metamaterials, arrays of engineered structures that act like artificial atoms and exhibit unusual properties such as negative refractive indices and invisible cloaking. She has focused on creating metamaterials in the terahertz range (wavelengths between optical and microwave frequencies) that may ultimately be used for imaging, chemical detection, surveillance and high-speed electronic circuits.

In 2009 Zhang was named the College’s inaugural Distinguished Faculty Fellow, a five-year appointment given to tenured ENG faculty on a clear trajectory toward an exemplary career in all dimensions of science and engineering. She has received numerous awards for research excellence, including the National Science Foundation Faculty CAREER Award, and has participated in both US and international National Academy of Engineering symposia. She has published 128 papers in interdisciplinary journals. In addition, among the 14 Ph.D. students who have graduated from Zhang’s lab at Boston University, three have received tenure-track faculty positions at major research universities (UT-Austin, Virginia Tech and Ohio State), and the rest in national labs and industry including Analog Devices, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, General Electric, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

This is Zhang’s second election to fellow status in a major professional organization this year. In the spring, she was elected as a Fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in recognition of her interdisciplinary MEMS research.