Engineer named to MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 China list


By Ashley J. WennersHerron

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Huanyu “Larry” Cheng, Dorothy Quiggle Career Development Assistant Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Penn State, was named to the 2021 MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 China list.

The annual list is a partnership between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-alumni founded MIT Technology Review and DeepTech, a Beijing-based technology company, to highlight innovative work by Chinese people around the world who are under the age of 35. Established in 2017, a committee of more than 50 international senior leaders in their fields selects 35 people representing one of five categories: entrepreneurs, humanitarians, pioneers, visionaries and inventors. The common thread, according to the list’s website, is every awardee is “developing new projects that will change all areas of society, and they are disrupting our current and future way of living and making the world better.”

“Dr. Cheng is still in the early stage of his career, and he has already made an impact in his field with several significant contributions,” said Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering. “He has established himself as a leader advancing sensing technology and health monitoring systems. We’re proud to call Dr. Cheng a College of Engineering colleague, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he achieves next.”

Cheng was recognized in the inventor category for his work developing stretchable, wireless, self-powering sensors with potential applications in health monitoring and more. He designed a graphene foam-based gas platform capable of continuously monitoring multiple components in a mixed gas. Cheng also developed simple, generally applicable fabrication methods to print circuits on skin without heat and on irregular surfaces. In addition, he invented a flexible microfluidic sensing platform that can collect and analyze biological fluids in health monitors.

“As we develop health monitoring systems, we want to advance the technology while also streamlining devices to be economical and sustainable without detracting from the quality of life for the users,” Cheng said. 

Cheng is currently building on this research to develop a smart mask that can detect viral particles in the user’s breath, including COVID-19 and its variants. In addition, he is building a wearable smart patch to measure inflammatory markers and other biological signals in sweat in real time.

During a virtual meeting in January, Cheng presented his work to his fellow honorees and learned about their plans. According to Cheng, the meeting was an opportunity to network, identify possible collaborators and discuss potential resources. The 2021 cohort will gather in person when pandemic regulations permit.

“The list recognizes people not just for their achievements, but also for their potential,” Cheng said. “The people on this list are inspiring, and I’m honored to be included.”


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