Principal Investigator 


Dr. Qian Chen

Assistant Professor

Department of Materials Science and Engineering Department of Chemistry  
Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory

Prof. Qian 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 3-year 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 an affiliated assistant professor of chemistry at UIUC since 2015.


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)

Join us

Graduate students: We have openings for highly-motivated graduate students, especially those with background in materials chemistry, condensed matter physics, nanomaterials, or optics.

Postdocs: Interested prospective postdocs with expertise in nanoscience and bioimaging can send your CV and a short statement for future work directly to Prof. Chen at

Undergraduate students: We are actively recruiting undergraduate research assistants. Interested UIUC undergrads can send your CV/resume and your unofficial transcript directly to Prof. Chen at


June, 2016: Dr. Chen was invited to give a Keynote lecture at the 10th Liquid Matter Conference in Slovenia. See the link here.

May, 2016: Zihao passed the qualifying exam of MatSE. Congratulations to Zihao for becoming a PhD candidate!

April, 2016: Dr. Chen was invited to give a talk in CECAM workshop in EPFL, Switzerland. See the link here.