Junhong Chen


Junhong Chen is currently a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and an Excellence in Engineering Faculty Fellow in Nanotechnology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). He is also the Director of the Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) on Water Equipment and Policy, supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and water-based industrial partners, and the founder of NanoAffix Science, LLC. Dr. Chen received his B.E. degree (in Thermal Engineering) in 1995 from Tongji University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees (both in Mechanical Engineering) in 2000 and 2002, respectively, from the University of Minnesota (Advisor: Professor Jane Davidson). Dr. Chen’s dissertation research focused on understanding corona discharges and corona plasma-enhanced chemical reactions, e.g., ozone generation and chemical vapor deposition. From October 2002 to August 2003, he was a postdoctoral scholar in Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology (Advisor: Professor Richard Flagan), where he studied the use of plasma for nanoparticle synthesis. In August 2003, he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UWM, where he was promoted to tenured Associate Professor and Professor in 2008 and 2011, respectively. He received a joint appointment in the UWM Department of Materials Science and Engineering in January 2013.

Professor Chen’s current research focuses on nanomaterial innovations for sustainable energy and environment, including nanoparticle synthesis, assembly, and nanofabrication; energy conversion, storage, and conservation; nanostructure-based gas sensors, biosensors, and water sensors; carbon nanotubes (CNTs), graphene, and hybrid nanomaterials; pollution control; and corona discharges and plasma reacting flows (For more details, please visit his research group website at http://www.uwm.edu/nsee). Most of his research projects are at the intersection of interesting fundamental science and industrial applications with ample opportunities for new discoveries, which creates an excellent vehicle for educating students.

Professor Chen has made seminal contributions to general areas of hybrid CNT/graphene-nanoparticle structures and their device applications (e.g., various sensors, solar cells, lithium-ion batteries, and supercapacitors), and corona discharge-induced chemical reactions (e.g., ozone production). His research program at UWM has attracted about $6M in research funding from the U.S. NSF (over 10 grants), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), various industries (e.g., We Energies, Rockwell Automation, Johnson Controls, Sigma-Aldrich, Xerox Corporation), the State of Wisconsin, and internal sources. He has initiated research collaborations with engineers, physicists, chemists, and biologists from the UWM and around the world (e.g., North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa). His research has led to 9 U.S. patents (three issued and six pending) and over 100 papers in prestigious journals, including Advanced Materials, Advanced Energy Materials, ACS Nano, Energy & Environmental Science, Applied Physics Letter, and Chemical Communications, with 15 papers of impact factor > 10 and 50 papers of impact factor > 5. One of his papers was featured on the front cover and three other papers were featured as a frontispiece by Advanced Materials, and one paper was featured as the cover of Nano. His papers have been cited for over 1,500 times with an h-index of 22 and annual citation over 550 times in 2013 (ISI Web of Knowledge). Two papers have been cited for over 100 times.

Professor Chen’s research excellence was recognized by an elected Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 2013, an Excellence in Engineering Faculty Fellow in Nanotechnology at the UWM in 2013, the 2008 Graduate School/UWM Foundation Research Award, and the 2012 UWM College of Engineering & Applied Science Research Excellence Award. His research has also been featured several times as the UWM front page and widely reported by Chemical & Engineering News, ASEE magazine PRISM, US News, Frost & Sullivan, Science Daily, PhysOrg, Photonics Online, Nanowerk, Bio-Medicine, EurekAlert, Nanotechnology Now, and the A to Z of Nanotechnology. He has been invited by Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Chemistry World to comment on a sensor paper published in Nature Chemistry. He has also been interviewed by Scientific American on ozone production from magician and stunt artist David Blaine’s performance of standing atop a pillar in the West Village for three days while being subject to constant high voltage electricity.

Professor Chen is currently an Editorial Board Member of Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group), Dataset Papers in Materials Science, and Open Journal of Applied Biosensor. He served as an Editorial Board Member of The Open Plasma Physics Journal from 2008 to 2010. He is a frequent reviewer for over 80 international journals, including Nature Communications, Nano Letters, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., Advanced Materials, Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), ACS Nano, Energy & Environmental Science, and Applied Physics Letter. He has been invited to write Perspective and Review Articles for several journals (e.g., JPCL, JMCA, Nanoscale, ABC, and Electroanalysis).  He has also been invited to review proposals for funding agencies worldwide, including the United States (e.g., NSF, DOE, and Army Research Office), European Union, Germany (DFG), United Kingdom (The Royal Society), Canada, Netherlands, Portugal, Korea, and Singapore. Professor Chen has been invited to give talks (~60 times) at various universities worldwide, industries, and technical conferences, with the most recent ones at the Materials Research Society (MRS) Spring Meeting 2013 and the 245th ACS National Meeting (2013). He has organized and co-organized a number of symposia on “Nanomaterials for Energy and Environmental Applications” at the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition and the American Association for Aerosol Research (AAAR) Annual Conference (sponsored by NSF).

Professor Chen has taught several undergraduate and graduate courses on nanotechnology, nanomaterials, nanodevices, nanomanufacturing, and experimentation. He has developed three new nanotechnology courses (one graduate and two undergraduate/graduate), one of which was funded by the NSF Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE) program. He has mentored more than 20 graduate students, postdocs, and visiting scholars. He also has mentored nearly 30 undergraduate researchers from UWM and other universities/colleges (e.g., University of Minnesota, Rice University, Oregon State University, Alverno College, and Beloit College) and 5 high school students. Notably, one of his Ph.D. students, Ganhua Lu, is now an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. One of his Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) students, Ben Hansen, received the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to pursue his graduate studies after the REU experience. One of his postdocs, Zheng Bo, is now an Associate Professor at Zhejiang University, China. Four out of five high school students have received awards for their science projects mentored by Professor Chen.

Professor Chen currently serves as the Director of the NSF-funded Water Equipment and Policy (WEP) I/UCRC, which brings together six industrial members with an annual membership fee to fund pre-competitive research ideas in four thrust areas: materials, sensors and devices, systems, and policy. The WEP research center serves as a catalyst for synergizing the region’s assets to create the next generation of products and processes to advance the water industry. Professor Chen served as the Chair of the ME Graduate Program Committee (2011-2013), in addition to serving on a number of committees across the campus (e.g., Natural Science Divisional Executive Committee, Awards and Recognition Committee, and Johnson Controls Endowed Professorship Search and Screen Committee). He also served on the Dean’s Search & Screen Committee that landed the current Dean of College of Engineering & Applied Science.

Professor Chen is the founder and chief scientific officer of NanoAffix Science, LLC (NAFX, http://www.nanoaffix.com/), which is a limited liability company organized in the State of Wisconsin. The NAFX corporate mission is to successfully commercialize nanotechnologies invented in Professor Chen’s research lab at UWM to produce sensor products with significant technical performance advantages, improved economic benefits, enhanced customer well-being, and general public safety improvements for our society. NAFX has received research grants from both the National Science Foundation small business innovation research program (SBIR) and the State of Wisconsin Department of Commerce for its prototype product development work.