UH Researcher Chosen for MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35

Cunjiang Yu Named a ‘Pioneer’ in Publication’s Inaugural Chinese Edition

A researcher at the University of Houston known for his work in developing stretchable semiconductors and electronics has been named to MIT Technology Review’s “35 Innovators Under 35” list of researchers with Chinese citizenship.

Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering, was cited as a “pioneer” for his work in the emerging field of soft electronics and breakthrough work on developing stretchable rubbery semiconductors and rubbery transistors, sensors and integrated electronics and systems.

Last year Yu drew attention when he reported a breakthrough in semiconductor materials with instilled mechanical stretchability, much like a rubber band, and a new class of rubbery electronics and sensors that can serve as an artificial skin, allowing a robotic hand to sense temperatures and even translate sign language.

The material is both stretchable and semiconducting, a major advancement of the classic silicon semiconductor. Yu and his lab discovered a new mechanism for producing the material, which relies upon readily available components and could easily be scaled up for future commercial production.

It would have a broad range of applications from artificial skin to robotics and biomedical devices, Yu said. His lab is currently working to improve the performance of the material for use in integrated electronics and implantable medical devices.

MIT Technology Review publishes an annual list of top innovators and entrepreneurs. This is the first year it has offered a Chinese edition.

Although he has worked in the United States for more than a decade – he earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Arizona State University in 2010 and has been at UH since 2013 – Yu remains a Chinese citizen.

The awardees are selected by the editors of the magazine in collaboration with a panel of judges from major institutions and corporations including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Tsinghua University, Peking University and Alibaba.

The 35 innovators list is broken into several categories – in addition to pioneers, the others include inventors, entrepreneurs, visionaries and humanitarians.

Those chosen as pioneers are noted “for bringing fresh and unexpected solutions to areas ranging from cancer treatment to internet security to self-driving cars.” Yu is one of eight pioneers.