Prof. Qian Chen (CV)

Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Department of Chemistry (Affiliated), Materials Research Laboratory (Affiliated), Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (Affiliated), Carle Illinois College of Medicine (Affiliated)

Prof. Chen received her BS in Chemistry from Peking University (2007), and her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from UIUC with Prof. Steve Granick (2012). She then won the prestigious Miller fellowship and worked with Prof. A. Paul Alivisatos at UC Berkeley. She joined MatSE at UIUC as an assistant professor since 2015.


Self-assembly of spherical iron oxide nanoparticles
Liquid-phase TEM to reveal hidden dynamics
polymerization of multivalent nanoparticles
polyamide membranes structure reconstruction
Smaller particles are better cathodes for intercalation


We are “film-makers.” We videotape how tiny machineries of materials and living cells move, interact, assemble and transform in a fluid medium to perform their functions. Sometimes atomic resolutions are involved to track the paths of ions and atoms in charge conduction or chemical reactions. We also utilize deep learning-based analysis to extract the underlying physical rules encoding such dynamics. The systems are diverse, ranging from batteries, separation membranes, colloids to membrane proteins (click here to watch a recent video of Prof. Chen’s BP-ICAM webinar, and read more).


  News (more here)

February, 2020: Prof. Chen received the 2020 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research. Congratulations to the group!

October, 2019: Hyosung was selected to receive the 2019 Hanwha Travel Award at the Emerging Junior Investigator Open Innovation Forum in the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting! Congratulations, Hyosung!

September, 2019: Our paper on liquid-phase TEM imaging of nanoparticle crystallization pathways got accepted by Nature Materials! Congratulations to the group! Read the paper here. Watch the animation for the wiggling nanoparticles at their lattice sites in our liquid chamber.

September, 2019: Johnny’s paper on the mechanism of polymer assisted fragmentation and association of amyloid fibrils got published on ACS Applied Nano Materials! Congratulations, Johnny!

September, 2019: Prof. Chen got selected as the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their students for her teaching of MSE 450.

August, 2019: Chang (Chris) Qian, 1st-year MatSE PhD student joined our group. Welcome, Chris!

July, 2019: Ahyoung Kim, 3rd-year PhD student in our group, won the PPG-MRL graduate student fellowship award. Congratulations, Ahyoung!

July, 2019: Our paper on tip-patched nanoprisms from formation of ligand islands got accepted by Journal of the American Chemical Society! Congratulations to the group!

June, 2019: Our paper on effects of particle size on ion intercalation into cathode materials got accepted by Nano Letters! Congratulations to the group!

April, 2019: Binbin Luo, 4th-year PhD student in our group, won the Fall 2019 Racheff Teaching Fellowship. Congratulations, Binbin!

March, 2019: Our paper on how ordering can emerge from polydisperse building blocks got accepted by Nature Communications! Congratulations to the group!

March, 2019: Ahyoung Kim, 3rd-year PhD student in our group, won the MatSE Late Spring Fellowship in 2019. Congratulations, Ahyoung!

March, 2019: Zihao Ou, 4th-year PhD student in our group, won the MatSE Spring 2019 Travel Award. Congratulations, Zihao!


Join us!

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