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  • Optical tweezers, a Noble-Prize-winning invention by Arthur Ashkin, are widely used for remote manipulation and study of biological cells and molecules. We have further advanced this technology by developing a series of optical manipulation techniques that overcome existing limitations, providing expanded working modes, versatility in working environments, and the ability to target a diverse range of materials, all with reduced optical power requirements, minimal sample damage, and ease of use. These techniques push the frontiers of knowledge in biology and nanoscience, while facilitating the development of micro/nanoscale robots, lab-on-a-chip devices, and nano-architected materials for diverse applications in health, information technology, energy, and environmental sustainability

  • We combine optical manipulation - manipulating materials with light and vice versa - and machine learning in optical spectroscopy and microscopy to unveil biological structures and functions with unprecedented sensitivity, resolution and speed. A four-dimensional adhesion frequency assay enables comprehensive profiling of cell-cell interactions. Leveraging optical rotation and machine learning, standard optical microscopy achieves volumetric imaging and accurate classification of organisms. Surface-enhanced chiroptical spectroscopy allows label-free ultrasensitive enantiodiscrimination of chiral molecules. These advances push the boundaries of optical measurement in biology, while offering new opportunities for space life detection, pharmaceutical quality control and disease diagnosis.

  • When discrete nanostructures are arranged into nano-architected materials such as metamaterials, a plethora of new optical phenomena emerge, which allow for the manipulation and utilization of light in unprecedented ways. We focus on the creation of these nano-architected materials to improve optical sensing, photochemical reactions, solar energy conversion, passive radiative cooling, optical computing, and quantum communication. We draw inspiration from nature and employ machine learning techniques to design nano-architected materials that are precisely customized for specific applications. Advanced optical techniques are developed to manufacture the nano-architectures on demand and to measure their properties at both the single-nanostructure and ensemble levels.


We innovate optical manipulation and measurement for the biological and nanoscale world. Specifically, we aim to 

  • push the boundaries of knowledge in light-matter interactions and opto-thermo-fluidic multiphysics, which are critical to advancing optical manipulation and measurement,
  • pioneer groundbreaking optical manipulation and measurement technologies that not only transform the fields of biology and nanoscience but also facilitate the creation of novel materials and devices with widespread applications ranging from healthcare to sustainability, and
  • make further breakthrough discoveries and innovations by utilizing machine-learning-enhanced design and data analysis in optical manipulation and measurement.

 Group Leader:

 Yuebing Zheng, Associate Professor                                         Temple Foundation Endowed Fellowship 
 Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering
 Materials Science and Engineering Program
 The University of Texas at Austin
 Austin, TX 78712, United States
 Phone: 1 (512) 471-0228

 We are also affiliated with Department of Electrical and   Computer Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering,   Center for Electrochemistry, and Center for Planetary   Systems Habitability.

Recent Publications

Featured Publications

Book: Nanophotonics and Machine Learning [Springer (2023)]

Optical Nanomotors on Solid Substrates [ACS Nano (2022)]

Opto-Refrigerative Tweezers [Science Advances (2021)]

Opto-Thermoelectric Nanotweezers [Nature Photonics (2018)]

Bubble-Pen Lithography [Nano Letters (2016)]