Nanoengineered biomaterials and optical meta-surfaces for biomedical research

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Illustration of a single-molecule nanodot array without pathogens


Haogang Cai, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology
NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Tech4Health


In the era of precision medicine and big data, powerful computational technology to store and process data have emerged. However, we still lack tools to collect and control biosignals with a comparable high throughput and resolution. The research goal of Dr. Cai’s lab is to build new paradigms of nanotechnology for biological and biomedical applications from macro to nano scale. To achieve this his team is developing novel miniaturized mechanical and optical probes to manipulate biological input and output signals. By borrowing nanolithographic technology from the semiconductor industry, his lab creates designer biomaterials and metasurfaces with unprecedented precision and functionality. Integrating these nanoengineered 2D surfaces on a series of functional platforms (e.g., 3D structures, soft materials, active MEMS/NEMS), innovations for broad applications become feasible in a dynamic and tunable fashion. In particular, Dr. Cai aims to bridge multidisciplinary knowledge and expertise to develop next generation technologies to improve human health, with special focus on the following three thrusts: (1) Designer meta-optics for bioimaging and optical systems (Tissue/organ level); (2) Designer biomaterials for mechanobiology (Cell level); and (3) III. Single-molecule investigation and biosensing (Molecular level)

Dr. Haogang Cai He received his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University in 2016, under the supervision of Prof Shalom Wind, in collaboration with Prof. Michael Sheetz in Biological Sciences and Prof. Michael Dustin at NYUGSOM. From 2016 to 2019, he was a postdoctoral researcher with Prof. Daniel Lopez at the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Cai is the author and coauthor of more than 20 articles in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Materials, Advanced Materials, ACS Nano, and Nano Letters. His research interests includes nanotechnology, metasurfaces and nanophotonics, mechanobiology, nanofabrication, and micro/nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS).


Illustration of a single-molecule nanodot array without pathogens (left). If pathogens are present it will glow green (right)
Illustration of a single-molecule nanodot array, in which a biomolecule of choice (protein, nucleic acid, etc.) is bound to a metallic nanoparticle on a solid substrate. If pathogens are present the green fluorescent markers become active and emit detectable light