Faculty Profile

Yang Zhang

Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering
Yang Zhang
Yang Zhang
Associate Professor
111A Talbot Laboratory MC 234
104 S. Wright Street
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 300-0452


  • Ph.D., Nuclear Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 2010
  • B.S., Electrical Science and Technology, University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), 2004

Academic Positions

  • 2018 - present, Associate Professor, Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Core Faculty Member and Lead, Computational Molecular Science, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 2012 - 2018, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 2010 - 2012, Clifford G. Shull Fellow, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

For more information

Research Statement

Z￿s research can be summarized in three words: Molecules, Materials, and Machines. On the basic science side, his group synergistically combines and pushes the boundaries of theoretical and computational molecular science and neutron and X-ray scattering experiments. They develop accelerated molecular simulation methods that can effectively model a wide range of long timescale phenomena and rare events, with the goal of significantly extending our understanding of the equilibrium and non-equilibrium properties of natural and synthetic materials from the molecular and electronic level and providing accurate predictions and rational guidance to the design, synthesis, fabrication, and utilization of novel materials. Particular emphasis is given to the physics and chemistry of liquids, especially at interfaces, driven away from equilibrium, or under extreme conditions. On the applied research side, leveraging their expertise in novel soft materials, his group advances soft robotics, human-compatible machines, and intelligent control that can lead to immediate societal impact.

Research Interests

  • Molecules & Materials: Theoretical and computational molecular science; Accelerated molecular simulations; Non-equilibrium statistical mechanics (long timescale phenomena, rare events, irreversibility, randomness); Neutron and X-ray scattering experiments; Physics and chemistry of liquids, especially under interfacial/non-equilibrium/extreme conditions; Amorphous materials
  • Machines: Soft robotics; Human-compatible machines; Intelligent control

Research Areas

  • Atomistic simulations
  • Computational Multi-Fluid Dynamics
  • Ion bombardment
  • Liquids and glassy materials
  • MD and kMC
  • Neutron and X-ray scattering
  • Soft and biological materials

Selected Articles in Journals

Journal Editorships

  • Associate Editor, Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, 2016 ￿ present


  • Landis Young Member Engineering Achievement Award, American Nuclear Society, , ￿in recognition of his contributions to nuclear and advanced experimental techniques to understand the complex makeup, nature and performance of materials in the far-from-equilibrium state￿ (2017)
  • Doctoral New Investigator Award, American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (2015)
  • Collins Fellow, UIUC (2013)
  • List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent (Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017) (2013-2015)
  • Clifford G. Shull Fellowship, ORNL (2010)
  • Manson Benedict Award, MIT (2008)
  • Neutron Scattering Society of America Prize (2008)