Yi Zheng

Associate Professor,  Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


Social Media


  • 273 SN
  • 617.373.5558


  • 006A MU

Research Focus

Nanoscale thermal transport; Nanoengineered materials; Multifunctional composites; Microfluidics; Chemical and biological nanosensors; Renewable energy harvesting; Thermophotovoltaics; Photon-based radiative cooling


Prof. Yi Zheng is an Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and the Director of Nano Energy Laboratory at Northeastern University in Boston, MA, United States. Prior to joining Northeastern, Prof. Zheng was an assistant professor from 2014 to 2019 and promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2019 at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, RI, United States. His research interests include theoretical, computational and experimental investigations on enhanced energy transport phenomena, thermal/optical/electromagnetic sensing, physical properties of nanoengineered metamaterials, and their applications in energy conversion, storage, and harvesting systems, thermophotovoltaics, wavelength selective thermal emitters/absorbers, near-field thermal diodes and transistors, and photon-based radiative cooling technique.

Prof. Zheng serves as editorial board member for Scientific Reports and associate editor for Journal of Photonics for Energy, and reviewer for peer-reviewed journals, such as Nature Communications, Nano Energy, Physical Review Letters, Applied Physics Letters, Scientific Reports, Nano Letters, and serves as topic/session chair at international conferences, such as ASME IMECE Conference and ASME Summer Heat Transfer Conference.



  • Ph.D. (2014), Mechanical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • M.S. (2011), Mechanical Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY
  • B.S. (2009), Mechanical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Honors & Awards

  • 2021 NASA Glenn Faculty Fellow
  • 2019 NSF Faculty Early Career (CAREER) Award
  • 2019 ONR-NIUVT Undersea Energy Systems Grant
  • 2018 NASA EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Development Award
  • 2017 NIH RI-INBRE Early Career Development Award
  • 2017 RI Foundation Research Award
  • 2016 NIH RI-INBRE Pilot Research Development Award
  • 2015 RI Science & Technology Advisory Council Award

Teaching Interests

  • Classical and Small-Scale Heat Transfer
  • Thermodynamics
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Solar Thermal Engineering
  • Micro and Nanotechnology

Research Overview

Nanoscale thermal transport; Nanoengineered materials; Multifunctional composites; Microfluidics; Chemical and biological nanosensors; Renewable energy harvesting; Thermophotovoltaics; Photon-based radiative cooling

Nano Energy Laboratory

The Nano Energy Laboratory features Nano Energy from multiple disciplines in materials science, physics, and engineering at Northeastern University. It emphasizes the basic and applied study of small-scale thermal transport through multifunctional materials with advanced thermal, optical, electromagnetic properties, super-hydrophobicity, self-adaptivity, high-temperature resistance, and self-cleaning and fire-retardant features. These materials can be applied in the areas of renewable energy harvesting, thermophotovoltaics, passive radiative cooling, solar desalination and purification, thermo rectification devices, and nanoscale opto-thermal sensing. Recently, Prof. Zheng’s research focus is on transforming sustainable biomass-derived composites such as cellulose fibers and farm waste to recyclable, cost-effective functional materials.

Nano Energy Laboratory

Selected Research Projects

Selected Publications

  • Liu, X., Tian, Y., Chen, F., Caratenuto, A., DeGiorgis, J., ELSonbaty, M., Wan, Y., Ahlgren, R., Zheng, Y. (2021). An Easy-to-fabricate 2.5D Evaporator for Efficient Solar Desalination. Advanced Functional Materials, 2100911. 10.1002/adfm.202100911
  • Tian, Y., Shao, H., Liu, X., Chen, F., Li, Y., Tang, C., Zheng, Y. (2021) Superhydrophobic and Recyclable Cellulose-fiber-based Composites for High-Efficiency Passive Radiative Cooling. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 13, 19, 22521. 10.1021/acsami.1c04046
  • Chen, F., Xu, L., Tian, Y., Caratenuto, A., Lium, X., Zheng, Y. (2021). Electrospun Polycaprolactone Nanofiber Composites with Embedded Carbon Nanotubes/Nanoparticles for Photothermal Absorption. ACS Applied Nano Materials, 4, 5, 5230. 10.1021/acsanm.1c00623


Oct 21, 2021

Using Natural Materials to Produce Drinkable Water

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng is using natural materials like cow manure and hornet nests to create filters that can be used in desalination systems.

In the Media

Oct 12, 2021

Cooling Paper

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng was interviewed by the host of the “Top of Mind with Julie Rose”, Julie Rose, the Gracie Award recipient,  and her team for his cooling paper technology.

Yi Zheng

In the Media

Jun 16, 2021

Inventor Creates New Material that Can Keep Buildings Cool Without Air Conditioning

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng’s research was featured in The Hill, titled, “Inventor Creates New Material that Can Keep Buildings Cool Without Air Conditioning.” Other sampling media coverage: Good News Network, Home Improvement News, Spring Wise, Community of Flights,

model house using cooling paper


Jun 09, 2021

Using Recycled Paper to Cool the Air

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng developed a “cooling paper” that could help cool the air in homes and businesses without the use of electricity. How to keep cool without turning on the A/C Main photo: What if buildings could stay cool all on their own—no electricity required? That’s the premise of a new invention by […]

Yi Zheng


Mar 17, 2021

Zheng Selected as NASA Glenn Faculty Fellow

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng was selected to be a NASA Glenn Faculty Fellow in the area of “Harsh Environment Sensor Development” during summer 2021.

Yi Zheng


Jul 01, 2020

Solar-Powered Water Desalination System to Address Water, Energy Crises

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng recently received a $355,408 Soleeva Energy Innovation Award to develop a functional interfacial structure for solar driven water desalination and purification. The system would also be integrated with solar photovoltaic systems. San Jose, California-based Soleeva Energy is sponsoring the research. Zheng said he will be working with Soleeva Co-Founder CEO […]

Yi Zheng


Sep 03, 2019

Zheng Awarded NSF CAREER Award

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng was awarded a $500K NSF CAREER grant for the “Investigation of Nanoscale Radiative Heat Transfer for Enhanced Thermal Infrared Energy Conversion and Cooling.”

Yi Zheng


Aug 29, 2019

New Faculty Spotlight: Yi Zheng

Yi Zheng joins the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering department in August 2019 as an Associate Professor.

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