Nanfang Yu, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University


2022 Experimental Physics Investigator

Nanfang Yu, Ph.D.
Image credit: Jinhua Tan

Research Description

In collaboration with colleagues from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, Nanfang Yu’s research team will conduct systematic characterization of the structural and optical properties of the wings of butterflies and moths. They will leverage new development in computational electromagnetism and deep learning to enhance the efficiency of correlating the structural and optical features. Their approach in analyzing the structural and optical data through the lens of the life history and evolutionary history of butterflies and moths will maximize the likelihood of discovering novel materials and structures for bio-inspired designs. Through the development of unconventional techniques, they will fabricate bio-inspired nanomaterials and functional structures for applications such as microclimate regulation, energy harvesting, and soft robotics.

Research Impact

Dr. Yu’s research will reveal physical adaptations of living organisms to survive in their ecological environments, help discover new mechanisms through which complex nanostructured materials control light propagation and emission, inspire technological development to address prominent energy and environmental challenges, and train a generation of versatile scientists with talents working at the intersection between physical and biological sciences.


related links

Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative Science Columbia University, Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics Back


PhD, Engineering Sciences, Harvard University
BS, Electronics, Peking University

Affiliated Investigators