College of LAS « Illinois

MIT Technology Review names LAS professor a top young innovator in science

Ying Diao is recognized for her work in nanotechnology and materials

Ying Diao has been named to a prominent list of top innovators under age 35.
Ying Diao has been named to a prominent list of top innovators under age 35.
A professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Illinois has been recognized by a global media company as one of the top young innovators in science.

Ying Diao was named among MIT Technology Review’s annual list of Innovators Under 35 for her work in nanotechnology and materials. Diao joined Illinois in 2015 and is currently Dow Chemical Company Faculty Scholar in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Diao, 33, received her doctoral degree in chemical engineering from MIT in 2012. Her work has focused on developing fundamental understanding and innovative methods for assembly of materials in electronics, renewable energy and healthcare.

In particular, Diao brought key innovations to printing organic semiconductors—a technology in demand for energy-efficient, low-cost manufacturing of plastic electronics and solar cells. Unlike conventional electronics, plastic electronics and solar cells not only require much less energy to fabricate, they can also be made into lightweight, flexible, transparent, biointegrated forms that were previously unimagined. Her printing innovations address a critical challenge in this area: to direct the assembly of molecules into high-performance devices during printing. Her innovations integrate concepts from a wide range of disciplines, from the “coffee ring” effect and snowflake growth to microfluidics and DNA stretching.

"I have always immersed myself in highly interdisciplinary environments and have been fortunate to work with incredible mentors, colleagues and students. They have been and will continue to be the source of inspiration for me,” Diao said. “I am very honored and humbled to be listed among the top young innovators of our time,” she added.

For over a decade, the prominent MIT Technology Review has recognized a list of exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world with its Innovators Under 35 list.

“Over the years, we’ve had success in choosing young innovators whose work has been profoundly influential on the direction of human affairs,” said editor in chief and publisher Jason Pontin. “Previous winners include Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the cofounders of Google; Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder of Facebook; and Jonathan Ive, the chief designer of Apple. We’re proud of our selections and the variety of achievements they celebrate, and we’re proud to add Ying Diao to this prestigious list.”

Christine des Garennes

Related Topics

  • Faculty honors
  • Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Faculty research
  • Physical science