Home > Profiles > Y. Elaine Zhu

Y. Elaine Zhu

Y. Elaine  Zhu

Contact Info

Email: yzhu3@nd.edu
Phone: 574-631-2667
Office: 123A Cushing Hall
Website: http://www.nd.edu/~yzhu3/home.html


College of Engineering Associate Professor

Summary of Activities/Interests

The overall objective of Professor Zhu’s research is to understand, control and exploit the interfacial behaviors of soft materials, including colloids, polymer/biomacromolecules and etc., by using a set of novel experimental tools. The research primarily focuses on packing configuration, phase transition and slow dynamics of complex fluids confined at surface with an emphasis on materials processing, biomedical engineering, and medical applications.

The main theme of the research program is to understand the structure and dynamics of confined molecules, macromolecules and colloids that are immediately at a surface. With the emerging fields of the fabrication of micro to nano-scaled devices to synthesis, design and release of a variety of advanced functional materials, the study of interfacial materials becomes more and more important. The properties of the involved molecules can be quite different from the bulk, owing to executed mechanical forces from local environments, reactivity of a matter at surface and the confinement effect, therefore, a fundamental study of such soft matter is in great demand. To enable the study of nanodynamics of complex fluids at an interface, Prof. Zhu’s research group will combine a custom-built force measuring apparatus with techniques in microscopy, ultra-sensitive fluorescence spectroscopy, high-speed imaging as well as image analysis, and surface patterning. With the development of novel experimental approaches, unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution will be achieved for the investigation of a variety of complex interfaces.

We will also utilize our knowledge of interfacial properties of soft materials at surface to design microfluidic devices for new materials synthesis and efficient bio-analysis. Of particular interest is the application of new techniques, such as drop-in-drop and encapsulation for the synthesis of lipid or polymer vesicles, colloidsomes, and living cell capsules. Micro- and nano-fluidics channels will also be used to study a variety of interesting topics in fluid dynamics and biophysics.


B.S. Polymer Sci. and Chem. Eng., Tsinghua University, China (1997)

Ph.D. Materials Sci. and Eng., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2001)


Senior Research Scientist, General Motors (2002-2003)
Postdoc Fellow, Physics and DEAS, Harvard University (2003-2004)
Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame (2004-2009)
Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame (2009-present)


B. Jing and Y. Zhu, Disruption of supported lipid bilayers by semihydrophobic nanoparticles, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 133, 10983-10989 (2011).

P. Sarangapani, Andrew B. Schofield and Y. Zhu, Direct experimental evidence of growing dynamic length scales in confined colloidal liquids, Phys. Rev. E. 83, 030502 (2011).

S. Wang, H.-C. Chang and Y. Zhu, Hysteretic conformational transition of single flexible polyelectrolyte under resonance ac-electric polarization, Macromolecules, 43, 7402-7405 (2010).  

S. Wang and Y. Zhu, Molecular diffusion on surface-tethered polymer layers: coupling of molecular thermal fluctuation and polymer chain dynamics,” Soft Matter 6, 4661-4665 (2010).

L. Zhang and Y. Zhu, Dielectrophoresis of Janus particles under high frequency AC-electric fields. Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 141902 (2010).

V. Froude and Y. Zhu, Dielectrophoresis of lipid unilamellar vesicles (liposomes) of contrasting surface constructs,  J. Phys. Chem. B 113, 1552-1558 (2009).

S. Maheshwari, L. Zhang, Y. Zhu and H.-C. Chang, Coupling between precipitation and contact-line dynamics: multi-ring stains and stick-slip motion, Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 044503 (2008). 

S. Granick, Y. Zhu and H. Lee. Slippery Questions of Flow When Complex Fluids Moves past Solids. Nature Materials, 2:221-227, 2003.

X. Zhang, Y. Zhu and S. Granick. Hydrophobicity at a Janus Interface. Science, 295:663-666, 2002.

Y. Zhu and S. Granick. Limits of the Hydrodynamic No-Slip Liquid Flow Boundary Condition. Phys. Rev. Lett., 88:106102, 2002.