Chunhui Dai Receives First Place in NSF Student Research Poster Competition

Doctoral student Chunhui Dai has been awarded first place in the National Science Foundation student research poster competition. The competition was held at the 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE) in Pittsburgh, PA in November. The poster is titled “In-Situ Monitored Self-Assembly of 3D Graphene-based Nanostructures.” Chunhui’s poster was selected from more than 100 posters that participated in the competition. He is conducting his research under the guidance of Prof. Jeong Hyun Cho.

Chunhui with award-winning poster

The technique Chunhui demonstrates in the poster has the potential to be used for rapid and ultra-sensitive detection of biological analytes. It can be applied in medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring, and food safety.

Molecular sensing provides critical information about chemical and physiological processes, which plays a key role in disease detection and treatment. Graphene has recently demonstrated the ability to confine light near its surface and react with an attached molecule, thereby generating a detectable infrared signal. However, as graphene is a two-dimensional material, any sensing activities are restricted to its surface, thus limiting its overall sensitivity. Inspired by the art of origami, Chunhui’s research interest lies in developing a self-assembly process to fold 2D graphene into 3D graphene-based nanostructures, which have the potential to achieve greater light confinement, thereby increasing their sensitivity.

Currently, Chunhui is working on using these structures to analyze haemoglobin for detecting diseases. And in conjunction with other members of Prof. Cho’s research team, he has submitted a proposal to use this technique to study circulating tumor DNA for predicting cancer.

Chunhui received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from State University of New York, Binghamton in 2014, after which he commenced his doctoral program in ECE. Fabrication of 3D nanostructures, the prospect of working with Prof. Cho in this area, and the potential to pursue cross-disciplinary research, drew Chunhui to the University.