Published on 26 Nov 2021

NTU EEE| Faculty Staff : Asst Prof Yu-Cheng, Chen

Yu-Cheng, ChenOn October 28, the 2021 MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 (Asia Pacific) was officially announced at the Meet 35 Summit held in the Hangzhou Future Sci-Tech City. In recent years, the world's leading high-tech companies have settled here, gathering young scientific and technological talents from all over the world.

One of the recipients of the honour is NTU Assistant Professor Chen Yu Cheng, for his research focusing on biological lasers research and related bio-information encoding technologies, he opens up new fields for biology and medical research.

The most impactful innovation of Prof Chen's research is the development of micro-nano scale biological lasers with intelligent functions, which paves a new road for biomedical analysis and bioinformatics by employing laser emission. Such tiny lasers could therefore be integrated with living cells, tissue, or bodies to detect critical biochemical or physical signals. Prof Yu-Cheng Chen has achieved the first biologically controlled microlasers using DNA and living cells to tackle biological sensing and imaging challenges.

With the recent emergence of bioinformatics, using biologicals for encoding is very important, enabling his research team to distinguish among the complex yet critical biomolecular signals. Prof Chen's group recently developed several bioresponsive lasers, converting dynamic biomolecular information into more than trillions of distinctive photonic barcodes and fingerprints.

In addition, Prof Chen invented the first 3D printed living on-chip lasers, opening new possibilities for high-throughput on-chip laser analysis of living organisms (virus, bacteria, cells). These breakthroughs represent a critical milestone to implement intelligent functions in micro-nano lasers for sensing and imaging.

Prof Chen elaborated on this research, “Conventional lasers are usually very bulky and made of semiconductors. Recently the scale of lasers has been a push to the micron scale, and it is even possible to be integrated with biological materials. Before I joined NTU, I have been working on such tiny lasers over the years. However, after I joined NTU, I understand that such tiny lasers usually lack specific functions. Hence, our group has been dedicated to developing micro-nano scale lasers that have programmable and responsive functions recently. Such lasers can be used to detect certain diseases at an early stage; identify environmental changes in a cell, and even predict different cell types for therapy through the integration with deep learning”

These lasers are made of biocompatible materials so they are not toxic to the cells or body. The size is usually micron-scale and therefore can be injected directly into the cells or tissues. Besides injecting into cells or tissues, Prof Chen’s team has also created various micro-lasers that can be integrated with on-chip devices easily to perform real-world biosensing and imaging applications. Currently, their lab mainly focuses on cancer-related diseases and neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease, which is supported by the NAP start-up grant. Recently, NAP has also extended the team's applications to bacteria and Covid-19 related protein studies. 

Congratulations to Prof Chen and his teams and EEE looks forward to groundbreaking research from them!