Published on 15 Apr 2024

Celebrating Prof Chen Xiaodong's Election to the Prestigious German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

NTU Materials Science and Engineering Professor Elected to Prestigious German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina 

Professor Chen Xiaodong, a faculty member from the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, has been elected a Leopoldina member of the prestigious German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina – Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften) – the oldest continuously existing scientific academy in the world. This election recognises Professor Chen’s outstanding scientific contributions based on rigorous standards of academic excellence.

Scientific Contributions and Impact
Professor Chen is a globally recognised materials scientist renowned for his pioneering research work that combines advancements in soft bioelectronics and nanotechnology. His innovative work has led to the development of conformal interfaces that bridge the gap between humans and technology. This has not only expanded our scientific understanding and capabilities but also has a tangible impact on society, industry, education, and various scientific fields. His research has led to the creation of advanced materials for bioelectronic interfaces, which can translate biological signals into electrical outputs. This paved the way for the development of the world’s first plant-based robot and the enhancement of hand gesture recognition technology to 100% accuracy by combining visual and tactile sensors. 

In another seminal work, Professor Chen developed an artificial neural network for e-noses that enhances food safety by accurately assessing meat freshness with up to 98.5% accuracy. This innovation is a result of his unique approach that combines nanomaterials design and algorithm development. His research has demonstrated the potential of digitising human senses, opening up new possibilities for next-generation soft robotics. This has direct implications for the development of advanced prostheses, healthcare wearables, and other smart applications, showcasing the practical applications of his work. 

In addition to spearheading groundbreaking research, Professor Chen currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious journal – ACS Nano, where he plays an instrumental role in broadening its impact and global readership. His achievements have been recognised through various coveted awards, including the Singapore President’s Science Award, Winner of Falling Walls, Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award and, notably, the Dan Maydan Prize for Nanoscience Research in 2023, making him the first scientist from an Asian university then to receive this distinguished award. Furthermore, as a Fellow of the Singapore National Academy of Science and the Academy of Engineering Singapore, Professor Chen currently holds the distinction of being the only faculty member at NTU to be awarded the competitive Singapore National Research Foundation Investigatorship twice.

To date, Professor Chen has published more than 400 papers in numerous high-impact scientific journals, garnering over 42,000 citations and an H-index of 120. His work has been featured in over 100 prominent media outlets, including BBC News, Reuters, Business Times, and Daily Mail.

Translating Fundamental Research into Industry Application 
Professor Chen’s dedication to translating fundamental research is evident in his pursuit of prolific leadership and collaborations to accelerate the implementation of his technology in the industry. He has more than 50 filed/granted patents, many of which have been licensed to companies for further commercial developments. His inventions, such as the artificial epidermis based on plasticised silk and wearable tactile sensors, are undergoing validation tests with related industries for skin care product development. 

Strengthening International Collaboration
Professor Chen maintains deep ties with Germany, where he received his PhD with the highest distinction from the University of Münster. Over the years, his extensive collaboration with leading researchers from the Max Planck Society, such as Professor Markus Antonietti and Professor Joachim Spatz, has culminated in impactful publications and innovations. His commitment to fostering relationships between Germany and Singapore was demonstrated by the founding of the Max Planck-NTU Joint Lab on Artificial Senses and ongoing initiatives to encourage joint research and academic exchange between the two nations.

A Celebrated Election
Professor Chen Xiaodong’s election to Leopoldina underscores a shared commitment towards advancing scientific understanding and improving society. This prestigious election not only honours his outstanding scientific achievements but also shines a spotlight on the calibre of research performed at NTU and Singapore’s growing importance as a global hub for scientific innovation. 

About the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
Leopoldina has stood as an authoritative voice and advocate for the promotion of the public good through science for over 360 years. Since its inception in 1652 and subsequent recognition as the National Academy of Sciences in 2008, Leopoldina has been instrumental in providing unbiased scientific guidelines to policymakers while advocating for the global scientific community. The academy prides itself on its dedication to progress through a unification of scholarly efforts that transcend geographical and disciplinary borders.