Nicholas Xuanlai Fang Profile Page
Nicholas Xuanlai Fang

Contact Info

Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Research Summary

Solar-Electric Conversion
Device Fabrication
Materials Characterization
Materials Theory / Modeling

Professor Fang’s research programs have focused on the wave-material interactions, with emphasis on identifying connections between the microscopic response of individual elements and the macroscopic material properties. Such effort is supported by development of new micro/nanofabrication and characterization processes for novel functional materials. His primary research effort concentrates on focusing photon and sound into sub-wavelength scales, in the areas of energy conversion, communication and imaging. Professor Fang’s group has experimentally demonstrated optical superlenses for imaging and information processing at dimensions under 30 nanometers. More recently, his group further developed a set of nanofabrication and characterization techniques for optical nanoantennas and cavities, such as a patented electrochemical imprint process to etch metallic nanostructures with sub-20nm resolution. His group imaged local light emission from the hotspot of these nanoantennas using an electron beam tightly focused to a few nanometers. The studies suggest that a periodic array of bowtie nanoantennas can increase the local intensity by orders of magnitude in the feed gap region. Additionally, Professor Fang’s group has invented acoustic metamaterials for bending and trapping sound waves in engineered spaces. These acoustic metamaterials show promise to enhance the resolution of ultrasound imaging, and to reduce the ultrasound signature of the underwater objects.  Currently, his group’s work on the mechanics of metamaterials focuses on soft active elements which can transform their geometry and thus effective properties, such as negative thermal expansion and tailored stiffness for energy dissipation and conversion.

Publications & Honors

Selected Principal Publications (last five years):
  1. Liu Z., S. Durant, H. Lee, Y. Pikus, N. Fang, Y. Xiong, C. Sun and X. Zhang, “Far-Field Optical Superlens,” Nano Letters, (2007)7:2, 403-408.
  2. Hsu K. H., P. L. Schultz, P. M. Ferreira, and N. X. Fang, “Electrochemical Nanoimprinting with Solid-State Superionic Stamps,” Nano Letters, (2007) 7:2, 446-451.
  3. Hsu K. H., P. Schultz, P. M. Ferreira, and N. X. Fang, "Exploiting Transport of Guest Metal Ions in a Host Ionic Crystal Lattice for Nanofabrication: Cu Nanopatterning with Ag2S," Applied Physics A, (2009) 97:4, 863-868.
  4. Zhang, S., L. Yin and N. X. Fang, “Focusing Ultrasound with an Acoustic Metamaterial Network,” Phys. Rev. Lett, (2009) 102, 194301
  5. Chaturvedi, P., K. H. Hsu, A. Kumar, K. H. Fung, J. C. Mabon and N. X. Fang, “Imaging of Plasmonic Modes of Silver Nanoparticles Using High-Resolution Cathodoluminescence Spectroscopy, ” ACS Nano, (2009), 3:10, 2965-2974,.
  6. C.G. Xia and N. X. Fang, “Fully three-dimensional micro fabrication with grayscale polymeric self-sacrificial structure”, Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, (2009) 19(11), art. no. 115029.
  7. P. Chaturvedi, W. Wu, V. Logeeswaran, Z. Yu, M. Saif Islam, S. Y. Wang, R. Stanley Williams, and Nicholas X. Fang, "A smooth optical superlens", Appl. Phys. Lett., (2010), 96, 043102.
  8. Chern, W., Hsu K., Chun I.-S., de Azeredo B. P., Ahmed N., Kim K-H, Zuo J., Fang N., Ferreira P., and Li X., “Nonlithographic Patterning and Metal-Assisted Chemical Etching for Manufacturing of Tunable Light-Emitting Silicon Nanowire Arrays”, Nano Letters, (2010), 10:5, pp 1582-1588.
  9. Lee H., C.G. Xia and N. X. Fang, "First Jump of a Microgel: Actuation Speed Enhancement by Elastic Instability," Soft Matter, (2010) 6, pp4342-4345.
  10. Zhang S., C.G. Xia, and N.X. Fang, “Broadband Acoustic Cloak for Ultrasound Waves”, Physical Review Letters, (2011), 106, art no 024301.
  11. Ko K., A. Kumar, K.-H. Fung, R. Ambekar, G. L. Liu, N.X. Fang and K. Toussaint, Jr, “Nonlinear Optical Response from Arrays of Au Bowtie Nanoantennas”, Nano Letters, (2011), 11(1), pp 61-15.
  12. Kumar A., K. H. Hsu, K. E. Jacobs, P.M. Ferreira, and N.X. Fang, “Direct metal nano-imprinting using an embossed solid electrolyte stamp”, Nanotechnology, (2011),  22(2), art no 155302.
  13. Wang J., K. H. Fung, H.-Y. Dong, T. J. Cui, and N. X. Fang, “Zeeman splitting of photonic angular momentum states in a gyromagnetic Cylinder”, Physical Review B, (2011), 84(23), art no. 235122.
  14. Roxworthy B. J., Kaspar D. Ko, Anil Kumar, Kin Hung Fung, K. C. Chow, G. Logan Liu, Nicholas X. Fang, and K. C. Toussaint, Jr., “Application of Plasmonic Bowtie Nanoantenna Arrays for Optical Trapping, Stacking, and Sorting”, Nano Letters (2012), 12(2), pp 796–801.
  15. Cui Y., K. H. Fung, J. Xu, H. Ma, J. Yi, S. He, and N. X. Fang, “Ultra-broadband Light Absorption by a Sawtooth Anisotropic Metamaterial Slab”, Nano Letters(2012), 12 (3), pp 1443–1447
  16. Howon Lee, Jiaping Zhang, Hanqing Jiang, and Nicholas X. Fang, “Prescribed pattern transformation in swelling gel tubes by elastic instability”, Physical Review Letters (2012), in press.

ICO Prize/Ernest Abbe Medal

by the International Commission of Optics                                             Oct,  2011

d’Arbeloff Career Development Chair                                      June, 2011

Cambridge Who’s Who Professional of the Year

in Higher Education Category                                                     Dec, 2010

Invited Participant of Frontier of Engineering

by National Academy of Engineering                                        Sept. 2010

NSF CAREER Award                                                                    June, 2009

SME Young Manufacturing Engineer Award                           May, 2009

TR35 Young Innovators                                                               Sept. 2008

ASME Pi-Tau-Sigma Gold Medal                                               Nov. 2006


Professor Nicholas X. Fang is the d’Arbeloff Career Development Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Professor Fang earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Physics from Nanjing University, China; and Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles.  He was assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois (UIUC) between 2004 to 2010. He joined the M.I.T. faculty in 2011.  Professor Fang teaches and conducts research in the area of micro/nanotechnology.

Professor Fang has been the recipient of several awards and honors recognizing his research and teaching efforts, including the UIUC Award of Excellence in Advising; the selected Professional of the Year 2010 in Higher Education by Cambridge Who’s Who; the ICO Prize from the International Commission of Optics; the NSF CAREER Award; the Society of Manufacturing Engineering Outstanding Young Investigator Award; Technology Review Magazine’s 35 Young Innovators Award; and the ASME Pi Tau Sigma Gold Medal Award.

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