Nanshu Lu, an assistant professor of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at The University of Texas at Austin has been named by MIT Technology Review as one of the world’s top 35 innovators under the age of 35 (TR35) for her health-related work.

A panel of experts and Technology Review editorial staffers chose Lu from a pool of 250 nominees for the global list, which highlights young innovators who are changing the world.

Lu has been recognized for creating soft, stretchable electronics in the form of temporary transfer tattoos — called epidermal electronics — that can be used to track vital signs including brain activity, heart rate and muscle activity.

“Nanshu’s work could have a major impact on medical procedures,” said Philip Varghese, chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. “She combines expertise in theoretical mechanics with strong experimental skills, and applies her knowledge to a variety of challenging problems, including bio-integrated electronics.”


She has developed thin silicone patches that can support stretchable electronic circuits. The long-lasting patches are ultra-thin, ultra-soft electronics that can easily bond to skin and even organs without applying any adhesive. Lu hopes the patches will be used someday to also automatically treat medical problems right after sensing any problems.

“The long-term integration of electronics with organisms will open a new era for health monitoring and human-machine interface,” Lu said.

Other bio-integrated electronics that Lu and her team are working on include developing stretchable piezoelectric systems for energy harvesting from the mechanical motion of organs and transdermal electronics that not only monitor physiological signals but also provides channels for drug delivery.

Lu and and the other TR35 winners will be featured in the September/October issue of Technology Review and online. An awards ceremony will be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in October.

TR35 recognizes the world’s top innovators from academia and business who are working on forward-thinking technologies in emerging fields such as biotechnology, computer and electronics hardware and software, energy and nanotechnology.