Yi Zheng

Associate Professor,  Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Affilitated Faculty,  Chemical Engineering


Social Media


  • 273 SN
  • 617.373.5558


  • 440A RI

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. (2015), 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

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

In the Media

Mar 13, 2023

Top 100 in Materials Science – 2022

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng’s research on “Dome-arrayed chitosan/PVA hydrogel-based solar evaporator for steam generation” was featured as one of the top 100 downloaded material science articles by Scientific Reports.


Feb 02, 2023

2023 Acorn Innovation Awards

ECE Assistant Professor Sarah Ostadabbas, Professor Deniz Erdogmus, and MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng received MassVentures Acorn Innovation Awards to assist them in testing the viability of their technologies and potentially bringing their research to market.

Yi Zheng


Jan 05, 2023

Zheng Receives ASTFE Early Career Researcher Award

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng was awarded the inaugural American Society of Thermal and Fluids Engineers (ASTFE) Early Career Researcher Award for his significant contributions to the field of Thermal and Fluids Engineering. The award was presented at the ASTFE Conference in March 2023.


Dec 07, 2022

Zheng Receives State Recognition for Contributions to Sustainability and Clean Technology

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng was recognized by the Massachusetts House of Representatives for his “Outstanding Contributions to Sustainability and Clean Technology”. Zheng is devoted to clean energy education, research, and business, to provide climate-friendly energy-saving solutions and reduce carbon emissions globally.

Yi Zheng

In the Media

Dec 06, 2022

This Inorganic Fiber-based Paper Passively Cools Buildings, Vehicles and Much More

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng’s research on “This Inorganic Fiber-based Paper Passively Cools Buildings, Vehicles and Much More” was featured in the October 2022 issue of the Chemical Engineering magazine.


Oct 31, 2022

Zheng Receives Certificate of Recognition from Boston Mayor

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng was presented a Certificate of Recognition signed by the Mayor of the City of Boston Michelle Wu for recognition of his commitment and dedication to serving the Asian Community and beyond!


Aug 18, 2022

Using Spark Fund Award to Build a Better Roof with Cooling Paper

MIE Professor Yi Zheng is using the Spark Funds he received earlier this year to use passive cooling paper in designing more efficient roofing materials.

Yi Zheng


Aug 04, 2022

Developing High-Performance System to Harvest Solar and Thermal Energy

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng, in collaboration with Faraday Technology Inc., received a $150k research grant from the U.S. Air Force to create “Concentric Ultra-Dark Solar-Thermal Absorber and Metasurface Thermal Emitter for Thermophotovoltaic Power Conversion.” 


Jul 22, 2022

Six Engineering Spinouts Selected as Eddies Finalists

Six spinout companies that were created by engineering faculty have been selected as finalists for the Massachusetts Innovation Network’s innovation competition, The Eddies. Every year, the Massachusetts Innovation Network hosts its signature innovation competition, The Eddies. The Eddies (formerly known as NE Innovation Awards) is the oldest and longest running innovation competition in New England. […]


Jul 13, 2022

Startup Developed From Cooling Paper Research

MIE Professor Yi Zheng and mechanical engineering student Andrew Caratenuto, PhD’24, created the startup company Planck Energies to develop a cooling paper they designed that could reduce cooling needs. Northeastern researchers design cooling paper that might lessen need for AC Main photo: Andrew Caratenuto, who studies mechanical engineering, tests cooling performance under solar simulator on […]

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