Prof. Qian Chen (CV)

Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Department of Chemistry (Affiliated), Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory (Affiliated)

Prof. Chen received her BS in Chemistry from Peking University (China, 2007), and her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from UIUC with Prof. Steve Granick (2012). She then won the prestigious Miller fellowship at UC Berkeley and worked with Prof. Paul Alivisatos on in situ TEM related energy studies and bio-imaging. She is an assistant professor of MatSE and Chemistry (affiliated) at UIUC since 2015.


interaction map of nanorods
3D construction of a gold-DNA nanoconjugate
an isostatic kagome lattice


We focus on the new paradigm of building, mesoscopic imaging, and understanding active soft matter, the artificial materials analogue of smart living systems. Although materials components involved (polymers, nanocrystals, colloids) are mesoscopic and physically diverse, they are unified by features of hierarchy and strong non-covalent interactions among building blocks. As such, they are amenable to similar design rules which generate new solutions to a variety of applications in energy conversion, tandem catalysis, capsulation and targeted delivery, and bio-sensing. The common goal is to emulate Nature intelligence, for example, to make artificial materials self-replicating, self-regenerating, and eventually “evolvable”. (read more)


  News (more here)

June, 2017: Zihao, Binbin, Johnny, Ahyoung and Brian (junior MatSE undergraduate) presented at 2017 Midwest Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics Conference (MTSM) held at University of Notre Dame.

June, 2017: Johnny and Ahyoung passed their qualifying exams. Congratulations on becoming PhD candidates!

April, 2017: Our paper on the geometric packing of beveled prisms got accepted by Nano Letters! Congratulations to the group!

April, 2017: Our review on seeing is believing for nanoparticle self-assembly dynamics got accepted by Accounts of Chemical Research! Congratulations to the group!

April, 2017: Prof. Chen gave an invited talk for the CSI² Seminar at the Wyandotte site of BASF incorporation. Thank Dr. Josh Speros for the invitation and hosting!

March, 2017: Juyeong, Xiaohui, Cong, Zihao and Binbin presented talks at the 2017 APS March meeting in New Orleans! Click the names for our talk abstracts.

January, 2017: Prof. Chen visited Imperial College, University of Oxford, University of Edinburgh and University of Manchester under the support of Distinguished Visiting Fellowship by RAEng. Many thanks for Prof. Janet Wong, Prof. Roel Dulles, Prof. Wilson Poon, and Prof. Grace Burke for hosting! See her talk details here.

October, 2016: Prof. Chen received the 2017 AFOSR YIP award. Many thanks to AFOSR for the support!

October, 2016: Our first paper on liquid-phase TEM imaging and modulation of nanoparticle superlattices is accepted by ACS Nano! Congratulations to the group!

September, 2016: Prof. Chen gave an invited talk in the Chemical and Biological Engineering department seminar of University of Wisconsin, Madison. Thank Prof. Nick Abbott for the invitation!

September, 2016: Prof. Chen was selected as The SN 10: Scientists to Watch by Science News Magazine. Read the SN 10 issue and our feature article here.

September, 2016: First-year MatSE PhD students Ahyoung Kim and Johnny Smith joined our group. Welcome!


Join us!

We have openings for PhD student, undergrads and postdocs with background in TEM, nanoscience or biology. Interested candidates can send your CV to Dr. Chen at