Bio-inspired engineering research at CityU receives local and international recognition

Emily Law


An engineering graduate and a young faculty member of City University of Hong Kong (CityU) have respectively won the 2015 Hong Kong Young Scientist Award for developing the world’s most super-dry material, and the Outstanding Youth Award conferred by the International Society of Bionic Engineering (ISBE) for a seminal contribution in the area of bio-inspired engineering.

Dr Liu Yahua
, a PhD graduate from the Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, was awarded the Young Scientist Award in the Engineering Science category for his work titled “Bio-inspired interfacial materials: engineering and application”, organised by the Hong Kong Institution of Science. He has published four papers in Nature Physics and Nature Communications over the past two years, two of them as the first author. His supervisor, Dr Wang Zuankai, Associate Professor in the same department, was the first recipient of the Outstanding Youth Award from Hong Kong.

The novel super-dry material developed by Dr Liu, the first of its kind, has high potential for many industrial applications, ranging from water harvesting, energy saving, environmental protection and disease transmission prevention to enhanced durability and scalability.

As an extension of his current research, Dr Liu plans to explore practical applications of the new material for surfaces related to self-cleaning, anti-icing on aircraft surfaces, car and power transmission lines, and dropwise condensation to enhance heat transfer.

Dr Liu now is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Dalian University of Technology, which is a key national university under the direct leadership of the Ministry of Education. Continuing his work, he leads a team studying practical applications of this fundamental research.

The Award selection is based on evidence of research excellence in science or technology, as well as the potential to become a good scientist or engineer. After rigorous review by a panel comprising distinguished experts and scholars, Dr Liu was declared the winner of the Award out of 32 applications in the Engineering Science category.

“I am greatly honoured and feel very fortunate to receive this award,” he said, expressing his deepest gratitude to Dr Wang, who directs the Bio-Inspired Engineering Laboratory, and his team. “Without their help, I would not have been able to achieve this breakthrough,” he added.

Dr Liu studied at CityU for four years, and thanked the University for its support in his research. “CityU supported me with an independent research environment, advanced research facilities and professional research guidance. The atmosphere and environment at CityU was indispensable to our research output. The advanced lab facilities enabled us to explore cutting-edge technology to advance knowledge and solve mysteries,” he said.

Dr Wang, the first recipient of the Outstanding Youth Award from Hong Kong, has been leading research that revolves around the interfaces among engineering, materials and biology. The award is recognition of his seminal contribution to the cutting-edge research area of bio-inspired engineering, which has led to the development of a wide range of bio-inspired interfacial materials for multifunctional applications, such as thermal management, anti-icing and a green environment.


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Communications and Institutional Research Office

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