University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota: Department of Mechanical Engineering

Tianhong Cui

Distinguished McKnight University Professor

Office: ME 2106
Phone: 612-626-1636

Ph.D. 1995, Mechanical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences
B.S. 1991, Mechanical Engineering, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics



My research area is Micro/Nano Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS/NEMS). Long-term research aims to investigate the fundamental mechanical & electrical principles of new materials for MEMS/ NEMS and advanced manufacturing approaches, utilizing “bottom-up” nanomanufaturing of nanomaterials to enhance the performance of micro- and nano-systems. Present research efforts are the combination of “bottom-up” self-assembly with “top-down” fabrication technologies especially polymer advanced manufacturing. This aims to investigate MEMS/ NEMS including devices and systems using graphene, nanotubes, nanoparticles, nanocomposites, and polymers for new actuators, sensors, microfluidic devices, and photovoltaics for various applications to medical devices, renewable energy, and electronics cooling.

My research group has been investigating a wide spectrum of projects on the above topics, with an emphasis on microsystems using low-cost & low-temperature micro/nanomanufacturing techniques. We pioneered a highly innovative approach of combining “top-down” micro-manufacturing  techniques for MEMS/NEMS with “bottom-up” nano self-assembly. We initially introduced novel “bottom-up” nano self-assembly into the  fabrication of MEMS/NEMS devices combining them with “top-down” micromanufacturing. This greatly expands the range of materials and  processes available to MEMS manufacturing beyond the conventional silicon. In recent years, we worked on a new area of polymer MEMS manufacturing, including highly sensitive polymer-based tunneling sensors and polymer comb drives based on the hot embossing technique. We also started the new design concept of graphene biosensors, with the capability to integrate graphene with polymer MEMS/ NEMS devices.


Technology Integration & Advanced Nano/Microsystems Laboratory (Tian Lab)

Minnesota Nano Center