Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Cheng Zhang Awarded Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship for Research on Nanophotonic Materials and Devices

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Cheng Zhang

Cheng Zhang, a 5th year Ph.D. student in Electrical Engineering, has been awarded a Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship to support his doctoral research in new optical materials and device concepts for future optoelectronic devices. Key to one facet of Cheng's research is his investigation of a new kind of silver film, aluminum-doped silver (Al-doped Ag), for device fabrication. In addition, Cheng is investigating nano-size metamaterials for use in optical spectrum filtering and polarization/direction control.

Cheng works with Prof. L. Jay Guo on research projects in the field of micro/nano-scale optical device physics and fabrication. Silver is an important material in this field as it is used in applications that range from transparent electrodes for organic solar cells and light emitting diodes to building blocks for metamaterials. However, thin silver film has issues that limit its effectiveness.

Cheng’s Al-doped Ag has all the strengths of thin silver film without many of its limitations. It is ultra-thin, ultra-smooth, and is thermally robust and stable. Cheng and his collaborators have successfully incorporated this film in high performance organic solar cells, hyperbolic materials, and plasmonic waveguides.


An ultra-thin film of aluminum-doped silver on a flexible substrate.

Cheng is also exploring new optical devices for light property manipulation and related applications. He and his research group have collaborated with Prof. Anthony Grbic to study metasurfaces for extraordinary light polarization control and conversion. Using nano-imprinting lithography, Cheng has fabricated a polymer microring resonator that works as an ultra-broad bandwidth and sensitive ultrasound detector. This detector was successfully employed in photoacoustic imaging and pulsed THz detection, research enabled through the group's collaboration with Prof. Ted Norris,

Structural color filter
With imagery on the scale of micrometers, this nano-structured color filter offers angle-insensitive spectrum response.

In addition to his research, Cheng is actively involved in extra-curricular activities. He is the president of the Optical Society at the University of Michigan, and a student member of the Optical Society of American (OSA) and the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) . He served as session chair of Engineering Graduate Symposium from 2011 to 2013, and then as co-chair in 2014. He is a member of Lurie Nanofabrication Facility (LNF) user committee, and serves as a reviewer of several scientific journals. He is the recipient of this year's College of Engineering Distinguished Leadership Award.

Cheng obtained his Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Shandong University, China in 2010. He was one of ten recipients of the nationwide “Chiang Chen Overseas Fellowship” in 2010. He was awarded SPIE Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship in 2010 and 2013 (read more), and the Michael Pate Optical Sciences Memorial Scholarship in 2014 (read more). His research has been published in high impact journals such as Advanced MaterialsNature PhotonicsPhysical Review Letters and reported by various media.


Posted March 24, 2015