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Honors and Awards

Yonggang Huang Elected to the Royal Society

Huang was cited for his pioneering work in the mechanics of stretchable and flexible electronics

Northwestern Engineering’s Yonggang Huang has been elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s national academy of science and one of the most prestigious academies in Europe.

The Royal Society Fellowship comprises scientists, engineers, and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth. Fellows and Foreign Members are elected for life through a rigorous peer review process on the basis of excellence in science.

There are approximately 1,700 Fellows and Foreign Members, including approximately 85 Nobel Laureates. Each year, the Fellows of the Royal Society elect up to 52 new Fellows and up to 10 new Foreign Members on the basis of “a substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science.”

Huang, the Jan and Marcia Achenbach Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering, and (by courtesy) professor of materials science and engineering, was cited for his pioneering work on mechanics of stretchable and flexible electronics, and mechanics-guided deterministic 3D assembly. His vision laid the scientific foundations in these areas, leading to important applications. His impact on engineering science, including his seminal contributions to extending classical continuum mechanics to the nano-scale, has led to his election as a member of the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a foreign member of Canadian Academy of Engineering, and Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“I am thrilled and excited to become a member of the Royal Society, London, and will actively serve and contribute to this society,” Huang said.

“I am delighted to congratulate Yonggang on this wonderful accomplishment,” said Julio M. Ottino, dean of the McCormick School of Engineering. “Yonggang’s body of work and his scientific breakthroughs have made an immense impact and are fully deserving of this election.”

Huang’s recent work, together with long-time collaborator John Rogers, includes the development of the smallest-ever remote-controlled walking robot. Just a half-millimeter wide, the tiny crabs can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn, and even jump. Huang and Rogers believe their technology might bring the field closer to realizing micro-sized robots that can perform practical tasks inside tightly confined spaces.

Huang and Rogers also collaborated to develop a new flying microchip the size of a grain of sand that catches flight on the wind — much like a maple tree’s propeller seed — and spins like a helicopter through the air toward the ground. The smallest-ever human-made flying structure, the flying microchip also can be packed with ultra-miniaturized technology, including sensors, power sources, antennas for wireless communication, and embedded memory to store data.

With this honor, Huang joins Zdeněk P. Bažant, McCormick Institute Professor and Walter P. Murphy Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who was elected Foreign Member of the Royal Society in 2015.

Founded in 1660, the Royal Society is a fellowship of many of the world's most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Its mission is to “recognize, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.”