2018.05 - Current


Assistant Research Scientist

2014.09 - 2018.05


Ph.D. Material Science and Engineering

2010.09 - 2013.06


M.S. Condensed Matter Physics

2012.07 - 2012.10


Visiting Junior Researcher

2006.09 - 2010.06


B.S. Materials Physics





Extraordinary Potential Award for 2018 Chinese Outstanding Students Abroad (Top 10 Global Winners)



Caramello Distinguished Dissertation Award (The only awardee in schools of Engineering, Physical Science, and Mathematics of UMD)


2019 R&D 100 FINALIST

R&D 100 finalist: High entropy alloy catalysts.

  • 24-7 Video Pitch winner, 2018 Fall MRS meeting   2018.11

  • Student representative to meet former Vice President of USA, Albert Gore   2018.05

  • Dean’s Doctoral Research Award (First place, UMD Engineering school)  2018.04

  • ASSIST travel grant, National Science Foundation  2016.10

  • Best Poster Presentation Award, Maryland Nanoday   2016.03

  • University of Maryland Fellowship    2014.09

  • Second Prize in Entrepreneur Practice in Shaanxi Province   2014.05

  • Outstanding Graduates, Xi’an Jiaotong University  2013.07

  • National Scholarship  2013.03

  • University Fellowship, Xi’an Jiaotong University  2006-2013



I am currently an Assistant Research Scientist in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Maryland. My research experience is central to understand and explore the characteristics and bottom-up assembly of emerging nanomaterials (carbon nanomaterials, inorganic nanostructures, and cellulose nanofibers derived from wood) and I am especially interested in their large-scale applications through innovative synthesis and manufacturing technologies. The developed materials and devices have been applied to material discovery, catalysis, energy storage and conversion, sustainability, optoelectronics, and lightweight materials.



The initial research is just a glimpse into the possibilities of extreme high temperature engineering and materials discovery. Looking forward, I am extremely passionate about further developing innovative material synthesis and manufacturing technologies to enable new material discovery and solve the societal challenges in sustainable energy and catalytic applications.




Publication: > 90 papers, >5000 citations, H index 40: Full list of the publications is attached in the end.

Google Scholar link: https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=3kyA0OYAAAAJ

  1. Yao, Y.; et. al. High-throughput, Combinatorial Synthesis of Multimetallic Nanoclusters. PNAS 2020, accepted.

  2. Yao, Y.; et. al. Computationally-Aided, Entropy-Driven Synthesis of Highly Efficient and Durable Multi-elemental Alloy Catalysts. Science Advances 2020, accepted.

  3. Yao, Y.; Dong, Q.; Hu, L. Overcoming Immiscibility via a Milliseconds-Long “Shock” Synthesis toward Alloyed Nanoparticles. Matter 2019, 1, 1451–1453.

  4. Yao, Y.; Huang, Z.; Xie, P.; Wu, L.; Ma, L.; Li, T.; Pang, Z.; Jiao, M.; Liang, Z.; Gao, J.; … Hu, L. High Temperature Shockwave Stabilized Single Atoms. Nat. Nanotechnol. 2019, 14, 851–857. (Featured by Prof. Abhaya K. Datye. , 2019, 14, 817.)

  5. Yao, Y.; Huang, Z.; Xie, P.; Lacey, S. D.; Jacob, R. J.; Xie, H.; Chen, F.; Nie, A.; Pu, T.; Rehwoldt, M.; Yu, D.; Zachariah, M. R.; Wang, C.; Shahbazian-Yassar, R.; Li, J.; Hu, L. Carbothermal Shock Synthesis of High-Entropy-Alloy Nanoparticles. Science 2018, 359, 1489–1494.

  6. 2018, 359, 1467.)

  7. Xie, P.;* Yao, Y.;* Huang, Z.; Liu, Z.; Zhang, J.; Li, T.; Wang, G.; Shahbazian-Yassar, R.; Hu, L.; Wang, C. Highly Efficient Decomposition of Ammonia Using High-Entropy Alloy Catalysts. Nat. Commun. 2019, 10, 4011.

  8. Yao, Y.; Huang, Z.; Xie, P.; Li, T.; …; Wang, C.; Shahbazian-Yassar, R.; Hu, L. Ultrafast, Controllable Synthesis of Sub-Nano Metallic Clusters through Defect Engineering. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2019, 11, 29773–29779.

  9. Yao, Y.; Jiang, F.; Yang, C.; Fu, K. K.; Hayden, J.; Lin, C.-F.; Xie, H.; Jiao, M.; Yang, C.; Wang, Y.; … Hu, L. Epitaxial Welding of Carbon Nanotube Networks for Aqueous Battery Current Collectors. ACS Nano 2018, 12, 5266–5273.

  10. Yao, Y.; Chen, F.; Nie, A.; Lacey, S. D.; Jacob, R. J.; Xu, S.; Huang, Z.; Fu, K.; Dai, J.; Salamanca-Riba, L.; Zachariah, M. R.; Shahbazian-Yassar, R.; Hu, L. In Situ High Temperature Synthesis of Single-Component Metallic Nanoparticles. ACS Cent. Sci. 2017, 3, 294–301.

  11. Yao, Y.; Fu, K. K.; Yan, C.; Dai, J.; Chen, Y.; Wang, Y.; Zhang, B.; Hitz, E.; Hu, L. Three-Dimensional Printable High-Temperature and High-Rate Heaters. ACS Nano 2016, 10, 5272–5279.

  12. Yao, Y.; Tao, J.; Zou, J.; Zhang, B.; Li, T.; Dai, J.; Zhu, M.; Wang, S.; Fu, K. K.; Henderson, D.; Hitz, E.; Peng, J.; Hu, L. Light Management in Plastic–Paper Hybrid Substrate towards High-Performance Optoelectronics. Energy Environ. Sci. 2016, 9, 2278–2285.

  13. Yao, Y.; Fu, K. K.; Zhu, S.; Dai, J.; Wang, Y.; Pastel, G.; Chen, Y.; Li, T.; Wang, C.; Li, T.; Hu, L. Carbon Welding by Ultrafast Joule Heating. Nano Lett. 2016, 16, 7282–7289.

  14. Fu, K.*; Yao, Y.*; Dai, J.; Hu, L. Progress in 3D Printing of Carbon Materials for Energy-Related Applications. Adv. Mater. 2017, 1603486. (Invited review)


3 issued US Patents, and 3 more pending.

  1. Y. Yao, L. Hu. “Thermal Shock Synthesis of Multielement Nanoparticles”, US20190161840A1, 2019.

  2. L. Hu, Y. Yao, T. Li.  “Transparent hybrid substrates, devices employing such substrates, and methods for fabrication and use thereof”. US20180342702A1, 2018.

  3. L. Hu, Y. Chen, Y. Yao. “Nanoparticles and systems and methods for synthesizing nanoparticles through thermal shock”. US20180369771A1, 2018.

  4. L. Hu, Y. Yao. “High-Throughput, Combinatorial Synthesis and Screening of Multielement Nanoparticles”. UM ref: PS-2019-016. Provisional patent submitted, 2019.

  5. L. Hu, Y. Yao. “High temperature shock stabilized atoms and atomic alloys”, UM ref: PS-2019-003. Provisional patent submitted, 2019.

  6. L. Hu, Y. Yao, C. Wang, P. Xie. “High-Entropy Alloy Catalysts for Ammonia Decomposition”, UM ref: PS-2019-119. Provisional patent submitted, 2020.


>10 conference talks

  1. Y. Yao, L. Hu. 2018 Fall MRS meeting, Boston, MA, Nov. 2018. (Two oral talks, 24-7 video pitch winner)

  2. Y. Yao, L. Hu. The 1st International Symposium on Nanocellulosic Materials, Hangzhou, China, May 2017.

  3. Y. Yao, L. Hu. Drexel Symposium on 2D Transition Metal Compounds for Energy Applications, Philadelphia, PA, May 2017.

  4. Y. Yao. 2017 GRAD Research Appreciation Day, College Park, MD, April 2017. (Symposium judge: Elevator II, Environment)

  5. Y. Yao, L. Hu. 2016 SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science): The Diversity in STEM Conference, Long Beach, CA, Oct. 2016. (ASSIST Travel Grant)

  6. Y. Yao, L. Hu. 2016 NSF Papertronics Workshop, Washington D.C., Sept. 2016.

  7. Y. Yao, L.Hu. Invited talk in Minority Business Development Agency, USA Department of Commerce, Washington D.C., Aug. 2016.

  8. Y. Yao, L. Hu. “3D Printable High Temperature Heater”, 2016 Maryland Nanoday, College Park, MD, May 2016. (Poster, Best Poster Award)

  9. Y. Yao, L. Hu. “Transparent and Haze Paper for Optoelectronics”, 2015 MRS Fall Meeting, Boston, MA, Dec. 2015. (Oral) (Symposium assistant (I): Cellulose Nanomaterials)

  10. Y. Yao, L. Hu. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) 2015 Annual Merit Review (AMR) for the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and the Vehicle Technologies Office, Washington D.C., June 8–12, 2015.

  11. Y. Yao, X. Ren. “Ferroelastic Phase Transition in BNT-BT”, 2012 Materials Science & Technology Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, Oct. 2012. (Oral)

  12. Y. Yao, X. Ren. “High Piezoelectricity at Ferroelectric Triple Point”, International Conference on Smart Material and Nanotechnology, Shenzhen, China, Dec. 2011. (Oral)


Invited by Springer: Nanomanufacturing toward emerging applications: from materials to system integration. (Under preparation)



Editorial Board Member: Frontiers in Energy Research       

Memberships: Materials Research Society

Online database: Initiate the first online database for high entropy alloy: www.high-entropy.info

Certificates: ACS Reviewer certificates, National Instruments CLAD application engineer

Journal reviewer: ACS Nano, Nano Letters, Nano Energy, RSC Advances, Journal of Material Chemistry A/C etc.

Teaching and Mentoring:

  • Teaching assistant for ENMA Fabrication class (undergrad, lab + project design)

  • Teaching assistant for Nanomanufacturing (grad level, class +lab)

  • Student Mentor of Gemstone Team “NATURE”, a four year honors program at University of Maryland (winning the 1st place in research competition, UMD)   2014-2016

  • Ward Robert, REU student from University of Pittsburg, wining best technical research   2016.06-09

  • UMD Maryland Day, presenter for Department of Materials Science and Engineering         2016-2018

  • Collaborating/mentoring of >5 graduate students from research toward final publishing

  • Lead the collaboration with >5 research Universities and National Labs

Diversity examples:

  • A previous member of SACNAS: Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. Attended SACNAS: The Diversity in STEM Conference and help judge the abstract submissions

  • Help host and do the lab demonstration for “Women in Engineering” at UMD