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Huichan Zhao

Associate Professor (Tenure-tracking)

Room 923, Lee Shau Kee Science and Technology Building, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

Tel.: 86-(010)62780957


2012.08 – 2017.01 Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, US

­PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering, 2017.01 (Advisors: Robert Shepherd)

2008.08 – 2012.07 Tsinghua University, Beijing, China  

­Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Automation, 2012.07

­Second bachelor’s degree in Economics, 2012.07

Work Experience

2021.07 – Present Tsinghua University, Beijing, China            

Tenure-tracking Associate Professor in the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering

2018.07 – 2021.07 Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering

2017.03 – 2018.07 Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US

Postdoctoral fellow (Advisor: Robert J. Wood)


30120313-1, Fundamentals of Manufacturing Engineering A (3 credits, Undergraduate level course, Spring semesters, with Prof. Dan Wu)

30120422-2, Fundamentals of Manufacturing Engineering B (2 credits, Undergraduate level course, Spring semesters)

30120293-0, Informational Technology of Manufacturing Engineering (3 credits, Undergraduate level course, Fall semesters, with Prof. Tong Zhao)


Huichan Zhao’s main research topics include artificial muscles, stretchable sensors, and novel soft robotic applications. To date, she has published 27 academic papers on esteemed journals and conferences, including Nature, Science Robotics, Nature Communications, PNAS, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, Advanced Functional Materials, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazines, IEEE ICRA, IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, etc. Her work has been cited for 1500+ times in Google Scholar, and three of her papers were selected as the ESI Highly Cited Papers in Web of Science. She has been selected as the Forbes China 30 under 30 in 2018, and MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 China in 2020. She served as the Associate Editor for IEEE Conference on Soft Robotics in 2019 and 2020. Currently, she is the Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Robotics (TRO) and the Review Editor for Frontiers in Robotics and AI.



1) Li-Juan Yin , Yu Zhao , Jing Zhu , Minhao Yang , Huichan Zhao* , Jia-Yao Pei , Shao-Long ZhongZhi-Min Dang*, Soft, tough, and fast polyacrylate dielectric elastomer for non-magnetic motor. Nature Communications 12 (2021): 4517.

2) Yafeng Cui, Xin-jun Liu, Xuguang Dong, Jingyi Zhou, Huichan Zhao*, Enhancing the universality of a pneumatic gripper via continuously adjustable initial grasp postures. IEEE Transactions on Robotics (2021), Early Access.

3) Xuguang Dong, Chao Tang, Songwen Jiang, Qi Shao, Huichan Zhao*, Increasing the payload and terrain adaptivity of an untethered crawling robot via soft-rigid coupled linear actuators.   IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters 6.2(2021):2405-2412.

4) Amin Lotfiani, Xili Yi, Zhufeng Shao*, Huichan Zhao, A Nouri Parkestani, Analytical modeling and optimization of a corrugated soft pneumatic finger considering the performance of pinch and power grasps. Extreme Mechanics Letters 4 (2021):101215.


5) Huichan Zhao, Aftab Hussain, Ali Israr, Daniel Vogt, Mihai Duduta, David Clarke*, Robert Wood*, A wearable soft haptic communicator based on dielectric elastomer actuators. Soft Robotics 7.4 (2020): 451-461.

6) Amin Lotfiani, Huichan Zhao, Zhufeng Shao*, Xili Yi, Torsional stiffness improvement of a soft pneumatic finger using embedded skeleton.   Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics 12.1 (2020): 011016.

7) Zheyu Liu, Erxiang Ren, Fei Qiao*, Qi Wei, Xin-jun Liu, Li Luo, Huichan Zhao, Huazhong Yang, NS-CIM: A current-mode computation-in-memory architecture enabling near-sensor processing for intelligent IoT vision nodes. IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I: Regular Papers 67.9 (2020), 2909-2922

8) Zhao Gong, Songwen Jiang, Qizhi Meng, Yanlei Ye, Peng Li, Fugui Xie, Huichan Zhao, Chunzhe Lv, Xiaojie Wang, Xin-Jun Liu*, SHUYU robot: An automatic rapid temperature screening system. Chinese Journal of Mechanical Engineering 33.38 (2020).

9) Jin Yang, Zheyu Liu, Xinzhi Sheng, Fei Qiao*, Qi Wei, Huichan Zhao, Xin-jun Liu, Gesture recognition system with aging awareness based on tactile perception. 2020 IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics-Taiwan (ICCE-Taiwan).


10) Yufeng Chen*, Huichan Zhao, Jie Mao, Pakpong Chirarattananon, E Farrell Helbling, Nak-seung Patrick Hyun, David Clarke, Robert Wood*, Controlled flight of a microrobot powered by soft artificial muscles. Nature 575 (2019): 324-329. (ESI Highly Cited Paper & ESI Hot Paper)

11) Shuo Li, Hedan Bai, Robert F Shepherd*, Huichan Zhao*, Bioinspired design and additive manufacturing of soft materials, machines, robots, and haptic interfaces. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 58.33 (2019): 11183-11204.

12) Mihai Duduta*, Ehsan Hajiesmaili, Huichan Zhao, Robert J Wood, David R Clarke, Realizing the potential of dielectric elastomer artificial muscles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116.7 (2019): 2476-2481. (ESI Highly Cited Paper)

13) Jingyi Zhou, Xiaosong Li, Jing Xu*, Yu Tian, Huichan Zhao*, Xin-Jun Liu*, A soft crawling robot inspired by inchworms. 2019 IEEE 9th Annual International Conference on CYBER Technology in Automation, Control, and Intelligent System (CYBER), Suzhou, China, 2019: 209-214.

14) Tianrui Ma, Kaige Jia, Xin Zhu, Fei Qiao*, Qi Wei, Huichan Zhao, Xin-jun Liu, Huazhong Yang, An Analog-Memoryless Near Sensor Computing Architecture for AlwaysOn Intelligent Perception Applications. 2019 IEEE International Conference on Integrated Circuits, Technologies and Applications (ICTA), Chengdu, China.


15) Huichan Zhao, Aftab Hussain, Mihai Duduta, Daniel Vogt, Robert Wood*, David Clarke*, Compact dielectric elastomer linear actuator. Advanced Functional Materials 28.42 (2018): 1804328.


16) Shuo Li, Huichan Zhao, Robert Shepherd*, Flexible and stretchable sensors for fluidic elastomer actuated soft robots. MRS Bulletin 42.2 (2017): 138-142.

17) Lihong Lao, Sanlin Robinson, Bryan Peele, Huichan Zhao, Benjamin Murray, James Min, Bobak Mosadegh, Simon Dunham, Robert Shepherd*, Selective mineralization of tough hydrogel lumens for simulating arterial plaque. Advanced Engineering Materials 19.1 (2017): 1600591.

18) Cindy Harnett, Huichan Zhao, Robert Shepherd*, Stretchable optical fibers: Threads for strainsensitive textiles. Advanced Materials Technologies 2.9 (2017): 1700087.


19) Huichan Zhao, Kevin O’Brien, Shuo Li, Robert Shepherd*, Optoelectronically innervated soft prosthetic hand via stretchable optical waveguides. Science Robotics 1.1 (2016): eaai7529. (Premiere Issue of Science Robotics & ESI Highly Cited Paper)

20) Huichan Zhao, Jonathan Jalving, Rukang Huang, Ross Knepper, Andy Ruina, Robert Shepherd*, Soft orthosis with integrated optical strain sensors and electromyographic control. IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine 23.3 (2016): 55-64.

21) Shuo Li, Bryan Peele, Chris Larson, Huichan Zhao, Robert Shepherd*, A stretchable multicolor display and touch interface using photo-patterning and transfer printing. Advanced Materials 28.44 (2016): 9770-9775.

22) Huichan Zhao, Rukang Huang, Robert Shepherd*, Curvature control of soft orthotics via low cost solid-state optics. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Stockholm, Sweden, May 16-21, 2016: 4008-4013.


23) Huichan Zhao, Yan Li, Ahmed Elsamadisi, Robert Shepherd*, Scalable manufacturing of soft actuators that apply high forces. Extreme Mechanics Letters 3 (2015): 89-104.

24) Sanlin Robinson, Kevin O’Brien, Huichan Zhao, Bryan Peele, Chris Larson, Benjamin Murray, Ilse M Van Meerbeek, Simon Dunham, Robert Shepherd*, Integrated soft sensors and elastomeric actuators for tactile machines with kinesthetic sense. Extreme Mechanics Letters 5 (2015): 47-53.

25) Benjamin Murray, Xintong An, Sanlin Robinson, Ilse M van Meerbeek, Kevin O'Brien, Huichan Zhao, Robert Shepherd*, Poroelastic foams for simple fabrication of complex soft robots. Advanced Materials 27.41 (2015): 6334-6340.

26) Bryan Peele, Thomas Wallin, Huichan Zhao, Robert Shepherd*, 3D printing antagonistic systems of artificial muscle using projection stereolithography. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 10 (2015): 055003.


27) Zheng Cai, Huichang Zhao, Jingshan Zhao*, Fulei Chu, Stiffness of a foldable tower for wind turbine. The Open Mechanical Engineering Journal  6 (2012): 50-64.

Honors and Awards

Excellent Mentor Award, Tsinghua University, 2021

MIT Technology Review 35 under 35 China, 2020

Outstanding Reviewer Award, IOP, 2020

30 under 30 Forbes China (Science section), 2018

K.K. Wang Best Poster Award, Cornell University, 2014.03

Stip Olin Fellowship, Cornell University, 2012.08

Outstanding Graduate of Beijing, China in 2012 (top 5%), 2012.06

Outstanding Graduate of Tsinghua University in 2012 (top 10%), 2012.06

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