Advanced Nanomaterials & Microrobotics Laboratory

Lab Director

General Information

Professor, Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering

The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Tel: (852) 3943-1150; Fax: (852) 2603-6002


Li Zhang is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering (MAE) and a Professor by Courtesy in the Department of Surgery at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). He is also a director of the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) – CUHK Joint Laboratory of Robotics and Intelligent Systems. Before he joined CUHK as an Assistant Professor in 2012, he worked in Prof. Bradley Nelson’s group as a postdoc and then as a senior scientist and lecturer in the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems (IRIS), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Switzerland.

Dr. Zhang's main research interests include small-scale robotics and their applications for translational biomedicine. He has authored or co-authored over 260 papers, including Science Robotics, Nature Machine Intelligence (News & Views), Science Advances, Nature Communications, Advanced Materials, Matter, ACS Nano, AFM, TRO, IJRR, SoRo, Annual Review of Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems, as the corresponding author. His research work at ETH Zurich was indexed by the Guinness Book of World Records 2012 for the “Most Advanced Mini Robot for Medical Use.” Dr. Zhang has won several awards or in the Finalist from IEEE international conferences, including ICRA, IROS, CASE, ROBIO, ICARM, NANOMED, 3M-NANO and Living Machines. He won the Hong Kong Research Grants Committee (RGC) Early Career Award in 2013, CUHK Young Researcher Award 2017, United College Early Career Research Excellence Merit Award 2018, CUHK Research Excellence Award 2019-20, and RGC Research Fellow (RFS) Award 2021/22. He currently serves as Editor/Associate Editor/Editorial Board Member of ten international journals, such as IEEE TRO, IEEE/ASME T-MECH, IEEE T-ASE, Advanced Intelligent Systems (Wiley), Biomicrofluidics (AIP), and Research (AAAS). Dr. Zhang is a Distinguished Lecturer appointed by IEEE NTC in 2020 and 2021. Since 2012 (after he joined CUHK), he has been acted/acting as PC/PI for 23 competitive grants from RGC (12 projects including Early Career Award, RFS Award, RIF, and EU-RGC), ITC (8 projects including MRP, Tier-2, and Tier-3), the Croucher Foundation (2 projects) and NSFC (1 project). He is also Co-PI in 2 RGC CRF projects. Dr. Zhang is elected as Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC), and acts as Senior Member of IEEE and member of ASME.

Selected Awards and Honours

Elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC)


EMedIC Global Clinical Readiness Award


Research Fellow Award by the Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong


IEEE 3M-NANO Best Conference Paper Award


Toshio Fukuda Best Paper Award in Mechatronics in IEEE ARM2020


Best Student Paper Award in the IEEE CASE2020 (as the PhD supervisor)


IEEE Nanotechnology Council (IEEE NTC) Distinguished Lecturer


CUHK Research Excellence Award 2019-20


IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics (TMECH) Best Paper Award Finalist


1st Prize in International Bionic Innovation Competition 2019


IEEE Nanotechnology Council (IEEE NTC) Distinguished Lecturer


CUHK United College Early Career Research Excellence Merit Award 2018


CUHK Young Researcher Award 2017


Best Paper Award in Biomimetics – Finalist in IEEE ROBIO2014


Early Career Award by the Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong


2013 JALA Ten Award


Best Paper Award of Living Machines 2013


Helical swimming microrobot, Artificial Bacterial Flagella (ABF), is reported in the Guinness Book of World Records 2012, described as "Most Advanced Mini Robot for Medical Use"


Best Student Paper Award in IEEE IROS2012


Best Paper Award in IEEE NANOMED2010


Best Student Paper Award in IEEE ICRA2010


Best Automation Paper Award–Finalist in IEEE ICRA2007


Chinese government award for outstanding self-financed students abroad


Main Research Interests

Micro- and nanorobotics: develop micro-/nanorobots and integrated platforms for translational biomedicine.

Develop intelligent micro-/nanorobotic swarm and understand the collective behavior.

Bridging micro-/nanotechnology and functional materials with sensors, actuators, and robotics at small scales for realizing miniature medical devices.

Representative Journal Publications

(For full publications list, please visit: )

  1. D. D. Jin, L. Zhang*, Collective Behaviors of Magnetic Active Matter: Recent Progress toward Reconfigurable, Adaptive, and Multifunctional Swarming Micro/Nanorobots, Accounts of Chemical Research, (10.1021/acs.accounts.1c00619)

  2. D. D. Jin^, K. Yuan^, X. Z. Du, Q.Q. Wang, S. J. Wang, L. Zhang*, Domino reaction encoded heterogeneous colloidal microswarm with on-demand morphological adaptability, Advanced Materials, Vol. 33, Issue 37, 2100070, 2021.

  3. B. Wang, K. F. Chan, K. Yuan, Q. Wang, X. Xia, L. Yang, H. Ko, Y.-X. J. Wang, J. J. Y. Sung, P. W. Y. Chiu, L. Zhang*, Endoscopy-assisted magnetic navigation of biohybrid soft microrobots with rapid endoluminal delivery and imaging, Science Robotics, Vol. 6, eabd2813, 2021.

  4. QQ Wang, KF Chan, K Schweizer, XZ Du, DD Jin, SCH Yu, BJ Nelson, L Zhang*, Ultrasound Doppler-guided real-time navigation of a magnetic microswarm for active endovascular delivery, Science Advances, eabe5914, 2021.

  5. LD Yang, L Zhang*, Motion Control in Magnetic Microrobotics: from Individual and Multiple Robots to Swarm, Annual Review of Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems, Vol. 4, 509-534, 2021.

  6. Y. Dong^, L. Wang^; K. Yuan^, F. T. Ji, J. H. Gao, Z. F. Zhang, X. Z. Du, Y. Tian, Q. Q. Wang, L. Zhang*, Magnetic Microswarm Composed of Porous Nanocatalysts for Targeted Elimination of Biofilm Occlusion, ACS Nano, Vol. 15, Issue 3, 5056-5067, 2021.

  7. D. D. Jin, L. Zhang*, Microrobotics - Embodied intelligence weaves a better future ("News & Views"), Nature Machine Intelligence, Vol. 2, 663–664, 2020.

  8. F. T. Ji, D. D. Jin, B. Wang, L. Zhang*, Light-driven hovering of a magnetic microswarm in fluid, ACS Nano, Vol. 14, Issue 6, 6990-6998, 2020.

  9. L. D. Yang, J. F, Yu, L. Zhang*, Statistics-based automated control for a swarm of paramagnetic nanoparticles in 2D space, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, Vol. 36, Issue 1, 254-270, 2020.

  10. L. D. Yang, Y. B. Zhang, Q. Q. Wang, L. Zhang*, An automated microrobotic platform for rapid detection of C. diff toxins, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, Vol. 67, Issue 9, 1517-1527, 2020. (featured article)

  11. J. F. Yu^, D. D. Jin^, K. F. Chan, Q. Q. Wang, K. Yuan, L. Zhang*, Active generation and magnetic actuation of microrobotic swarms in bio-fluids, Nature Communications, Vol. 10, 5631, 2019.

  12. D.D. Jin^, J. F. Yu^, K. Yuan, L. Zhang*, Mimicking the structure and function of ant bridge in reconfigurable microswarm for electronic applications, ACS Nano, Vol. 13, Issue 5, 5999-6007, 2019. (highlighted by SITN @ Harvard University, C&EN and Chemistry World)

  13. Y. B. Zhang, L. Zhang, L. D. Yang, C. I. Vong, K. F. Chan, W. K. K. Wu, T. N. Y. Kwong, N. W. S. Lo, M. Ip, S. H. Wong, J. J. Y. Sung, P. W. Y. Chiu, L. Zhang*, Real-time tracking of fluorescent magnetic spore–based microrobots for remote detection of C. diff toxins, Science Advances, Vol. 5, no. 1, eaau9650, 2019.

  14. J. F. Yu and L. Zhang*, Reversible swelling and shrinking of paramagnetic nanoparticle swarms in bio-fluids with high ionic strength, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, Vol. 24, Issue 1, 154-163, 2019. (2020 IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics (TMECH) Best Paper Award Finalist)

  15. J. F. Yu, B. Wang, X. Z. Du, Q. Q. Wang and L. Zhang*, Ultra-extensible ribbon-like magnetic microswarm, Nature Communications, Vol. 9, 3260, 2018. (highlighted in Nature News, Nature video, Nature News and Comment Facebook page and CNN news)

  16. J. F. Yu, L. D. Yang and L. Zhang*, Pattern generation and motion control of a vortex-like paramagnetic nanoparticle swarm, International Journal of Robotics Research (IJRR), Vol. 37, Issue 8, 912-930, 2018.

  17. X. Yan, Q. Zhou, M. Vincent, Y. Deng, J. F. Yu, J. Xu, T. Xu, T. Tang, L. Bian, Y. Wang, K. Kostarelos, L. Zhang*, Multifunctional biohybrid magnetite microrobots for imaging-guided therapy, Science Robotics, Vol. 2, Issue 12, eaaq1155, 2017. (highlighted in Science News)

  18. S. Tottori, L. Zhang*, F. Qiu, K. Krawczyk, A. France-Obregon, B. J. Nelson, Magnetic Helical Micromachines: Fabrication, Swimming Control and Cargo Transport, Advanced Materials, Vol. 24, No. 6, 811-816, 2012. (Google Scholar Citations > 900)

  19. T. Petit, L. Zhang*, K. E. Peyer, B. Kratochvil, B. J. Nelson, Selective Trapping and Manipulation of Microscale Objects Using Mobile Microvortices, Nano Letters, Vol. 12, 156-160, 2012. (highlighted in Nature, Research Highlights, Nanotechnology - Swirls move tiny objects, Vol. 480, 294, 2011)

  20. L. Zhang, J. J. Abbott, L. X. Dong, B. E. Kratochvil, D. Bell, B. J. Nelson, Artificial Bacterial Flagella: Fabrication and Magnetic Control, Applied Physics Letters, Vol.94, 064107, 2009. (highlighted in Nature, News and Views, Miniature devices: Voyage of the microrobots, Vol. 458, 1121-1122, 2009; Google Scholar Citations > 1000)

  21. L. Zhang, E. Ruh, D. Grützmacher, L. X. Dong, D. J. Bell, B. J. Nelson, C. Schönenberger, Anomalous Coiling of SiGe/Si and SiGe/Si/Cr Helical Nanobelts, Nano Letters, Vol. 6, 1311-1317, 2006. (highlighted twice in Science magazine. Editor's Choice: All Wound Up, Science, Vol. 312, 2006, 1719, also highlighted in Scinece, News Focus, “Pretty as You Please, Curling Films Turn Themselves Into Nanodevices”, Vol. 313. 164-165)

Representative Conference papers

Lidong Yang, Li Zhang*, Large-Workspace and High-Resolution Magnetic Microrobot Navigation Using Global-Local Path Planning and Eye-In-Hand Visual Servoing, Proc. of 2020 IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (IEEE CASE 2020), Hong Kong, China, Aug. 20-21, 2020. (Best Student Paper Award)

Xingzhou Du, Lidong Yang, Jiangfan Yu, Kai Fung Chan, Philip Wai Yan Chiu, Li Zhang*, RoboMag: A Magnetic Actuation System Based on Mobile Electromagnetic Coils With Tunable Working Space, Proc. of 2020 IEEE International Conference on Advanced Robotics and Mechatronics (IEEE ARM 2020), Shenzhen, China, Dec. 18-21, 2020. (Toshio Fukuda Best Paper Award in Mechatronics)

Q. Zhou, T. Petit, B. J. Nelson, L. Zhang*, Dumbbell Fluidic Tweezers: Enhanced Trapping and Manipulation of Microscale Objects Using Mobile Microvortices, Proc. of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics 2014 (IEEE ROBIO 2014), Bali, Indonesia, 510-515, 2014. (Best Paper Award in Biomimetics – Finalist)

K. E. Peyer, E. C. Siringil, L. Zhang, M. Suter, B. J. Nelson, Bacteria-Inspired Magnetic Polymer Composite Microrobots, Proc. of The International Conference on Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems (Living Machines 2013), London, UK, July 2013. (Best Paper Award)

K. E. Peyer, F. Qiu, L. Zhang, B. J. Nelson, Movement of Artificial Bacterial Flagella in Heterogeneous Viscous Environments at the Microscale, Proc. of IEEE/RSJ 2012 International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IEEE IROS2012), Algarve, Portugal, Oct. 7-12, 2012. (Best Student Paper Award)

L. Zhang, T. Petit, K. E. Peyer, B. E. Kratochvil, J. Lou, B. J. Nelson, Noncontact and Contact Micromanipulation Using a Rotating Nickel Nanowire, IEEE International Conference on Nano/Molecular Medicine and Engineering (IEEE NANOMED 2010), Hong Kong, Dec. 5-9, 2010. (Best Paper Award)

K. E. Peyer, L. Zhang, B. E. Kratochvil, B. J. Nelson, Non-ideal Swimming of Artificial Bacterial Flagella Near a Surface, Proc. of 2010 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (IEEE ICRA 2010), pp. 96-101, 2010. (Best Student Paper Award)

L. X. Dong, X. Y. Tao, L. Zhang, X. B. Zhang, B. J. Nelson, Nanorobotic Spot Welding by Attogram Precision Metal Deposition from Copper-filled Carbon Nanotubes, Proc. of the 2007 IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation (IEEE ICRA 2007), April 2007. (Best Automation Paper Award–Finalist)

Editorial Services for International Journals

Editorial Services for IEEE conferences