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. (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


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 […]

Yi Zheng


Jun 27, 2022

Zheng Receives 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng has been selected to receive the prestigious 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award from 3M Corporation. This competitive award recognizes outstanding young faculty who were nominated by 3M researchers and selected based on their research, experience, and academic leadership. Zheng is recognized for his work in advanced energy materials, with a special […]


Jun 08, 2022

Nano Energy Lab Receives ASTFE Honorary Recognition

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng’s research group (Nano Energy Laboratory) attended the American Society of Thermal and Fluids Engineers (ASTFE) 7th annual Thermal and Fluids Engineering Conference to present topics ranging from ocean biomass-based energy functional material to photonic metamaterial to magnetic manipulation of nanoscale thermal transport.

Yi Zheng


Mar 25, 2022

High-Efficiency Radiant Energy Transfer

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng, in collaboration with industrial partner Faraday Technology, Inc. in Ohio, was awarded a $250K DARPA SBIR grant for “Near-field thermophotovoltaic system with nanostructured absorber/emitter for high-efficiency radiant energy transfer.”

Yi Zheng


Mar 07, 2022

Designing a Solar-Driven Water Desalination System

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng was awarded a $250K NSF grant to develop a “Solar Evaporator-Based High-Efficiency Water Desalination System.”


Jan 27, 2022

2022 Spark Fund Awardees

BioE Professor Jeff Ruberti, ECE Assistant Professor Aatmesh Shrivastava, ChE Assistant Professor Benjamin Woolston, and MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng are recipients of Spark Fund Awards, which help Northeastern researchers bridge the gap between promising lab results and demonstrating a commercially viable prototype.

Yi Zheng

In the Media

Dec 02, 2021

Cow Manure Turned Into Filter to Make Drinking Water from Seawater

MIE Associate Professor Yi Zheng was featured in the Science Times article “Cow Manure Turned Into Filter to Make Drinking Water from Seawater.”

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