Shirley Tang

Professor, Chemistry

Research interests: nanomaterials and devices for biology and medicine; bio-molecule assisted nanomaterial self-assembly


Professor Shirley Tang’s bionano lab at University of Waterloo is dedicated to the development of Carbon Nanotube (CNT) based biomaterials and bioelectronics. The lab is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments tailored for CNT synthesis and characterization and a biosafety II cell culture lab dedicated to the investigation of CNT-biosystem interactions.

Prior to joining Waterloo, she pursued postdoctoral work (2003-2005) in Professor H. Dai’s laboratory at Stanford University. Utilizing the unique physical properties of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes (SWNT), she developed advanced sensory devices including SWNT-Field Effect Transister (FET) biosensor array and ultra-sensitive miniature X-ray detectors. During 2000-2003, she worked at private companies in Silicon Valley, California, U.S.A. She received her PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1999 under the supervision of Professor D.G. Cory. The novel Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) methodology and instruments she developed for single cell and small organism imaging brought significant advancement to the field of NMR microscopy. Tang joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Waterloo in February 2006.

Tang’s most significant contributions to nanobiomaterial and nanobioelectronics research are exemplified by publications on prestigious journals such as Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Biotechnology, Journal of American Chemical Society, and Nano Letters.


  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Standford University, 2003-2005
  • PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1999
  • BSc, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China, 1993

Shirley Tang


Carbon Nanotube (CNT) synthesis, processing, and manipulation

Our research focuses on development of new Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) synthesis methods to obtain diameter controlled CNTs with high yield and high purity. Microfabrication and chemical functionalization will further render ordered CNT architectures on surfaces. We are exploring bio-molecule directed methods for CNT self-assembly and extrapolating its potential for large-arrayed nanoscale electronic devices.

Single-walled CNT (SWNT) bio-materials

Designing SWNT-bio hybrid structures to impart specific bio-functionalities while maintaining the extraordinary physical and chemical properties of SWNT is the objective. This research is cutting edge in the field of nanobiotechnology and is envisioned to provide revolutionary new tools for bio-analysis, drug delivery, disease diagnostics and therapy. Currently, we are developing SWNT nanoprobes for molecular imaging and SWNT film for cell patterning and tissue grafting. Through raman spectroscopy, confocal fluorescence microscopy, Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), and other metrology methods, we are seeking answers to the fundamentals that govern the interactions of SWNT with other molecules in solution phase.

SWNT Field Effect Transister (SWNT-FET) biosensor

This research is aimed at developing a new generation of SWNT-FET based biosensors. Specific objectives include: fabrication of large SWNT sensor arrays with highly unifrom pristine electrical properties; fabrication of ultra-sensitive SWNT nano-sensors capable of single-molecule/detection; development of lab-on-a-chip bio-processors with integrated SWNT sensors, micro-fluidics, and Complementary Metal–€“Oxide–€“Semiconductor (CMOS) circuitry for multiplex addressing.

Research interests

  • Nanomaterials and nanodevices for biology and medicine

  • Bio-molecule assisted nanomaterial self-assembly

  • Health and environmental effects of engineered nanomaterials


Recent publications include:

  • "Tube Length and Cell Type-Dependent Cellular Responses to Ultra-Short Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube", D. A. Donkor and X. S. Tang, Biomaterials, online (2014).

  • "Controlling Mechanical Properties of Cell-laden Hydrogels by Covalent Incorporation of Graphene Oxide", C. Cha, S. R. Shin, X. Gao, N. Annabi, M. R. Dokmeci, X. S. Tang, and A. Khademhosseini, Small, online (2013).

  • "Cell-laden Microengineered and Mechanically Tunable Hybrid Hydrogels of Gelatin and Graphene Oxide", S. R. Shin, B. Aghaei-Ghaerh-Bolagh, T. T. Dang, S. N. Topkaya, X. Gao, S. Y. Yang, S. M. Jung, J. H. Oh, J. M. Karp, M. R. Dokmeci, X. S. Tang*, A. Khademhosseini*, Advanced Materials, in press (2013). [*co-corresponding authors]

  • "Fabrication of Three-Dimensional Carbon Nanotube and Metal Oxide Hybrid Mesoporous Architectures", M. Mazloumi, S. Shadmehr, Y. Yangom, L. F. Nazar, X. S. Tang, ACS Nano, 7, 4281-4288 (2013).

  • "Carbon-Nanotube-Embedded Hydrogel Sheets for Engineering Cardiac Constructs and Bioactuators", S. R.Shin, S. Jung, M. Zalabany, K. Kim, P. Zorlutuna, S. B. Kim, M. Nikkhah, M. Khabiry, M. Azize, J. Kong, K. Wan, T. Palacios, M. R. Dokmeci, H. Bae, X. S. Tang* A. Khademhosseini*, ACS Nano, 7, 2369-2380 (2013). [*co-corresponding authors]

  • "Carbon Nanotube Compared to Carbon Black: Effects on Bacterial Survival Against Grazing by Cilliates and Antimicrobial Treatments", T. S. Y. Chan, F. Nasser, C. H. St-Denis, H. S. Mandal, P. Ghafari, N. Hadjout-Rabi, N. C. Bols, X. S. Tang, Nanotoxicology, 7, 251-258 (2013).

  • "Fabrication of Optical Device Arrays using Patterned Growth of ZnO Nanostructures", M. Mazloumi, H. S. Mandal, X. S. Tang, IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology, 2, 444-447 (2012).

  • "Carbon Nanotube Compared to Carbon Black: Effects on Bacterial Survival Against Grazing by Cilliates and Antimicrobial Treatments", T. S. Y. Chan, F. Nasser, C. H. St-Denis, H. S. Mandal, P. Ghafari, N. Hadjout-Rabi, N. C. Bols, X. S. Tang, Nanotoxicology, Early Online (2012).

  • "Carbon Nanotube Thin Film Biosensors for Sensitive and Reproducible Whole Virus Detection", H. S. Mandal, Z. Su, A. Ward, X. S. Tang, Theranostics, 2, 251-257 (2012). 

  • CNT Reinforced Hybrid Microgels as Scaffold Materials for Cell Encapsulation", S. R. Shin, H. J. Bae, C. J. Min, J. Y. Mun, Y. C. Chen, H. Tekin, H. Shin, S. Farshchi, M. R. Dokmeci, X. S. Tang, A. Khademhosseini, ACS Nano, 6, 362-372 (2012).

  • "Transferable Thin Films of Pristine Carbon Nanotubes", H. S. Mandal, A. Ward, X. S. Tang, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 11, 3265-3272 (2011).

  • "Interactions between Single-walled Carbon Nanotube (SWNT) and Cilliates: SWNT Interfere with Cilliate Ecological Functions and Cilliates Transport/Transform SWNT", T. S. Y. Chan, F. Nasser, C. H. St-Denis, N. C. Bols, X. S. Tang, Materials Research Society Symposium Proceeding, 1204 (2010).

  • “Carbon Nanotubes Inhibit the Hemolytic Activity of the Pore-Forming Toxin Pyolysin”, A. D. Donkor, Z. Su, H. S. Mandal, X. Jin, X. S. Tang, Nano Research, 2, 517-525 (2009).

  • “Impact of Carbon Nanotubes on the Ingestion and Digestion of Bacteria by Ciliated Protozoa”, P. Ghafari, C. H. St-Denis, M. E. Power, X. Jin, V. Tsou, H. S. Mandal, N. C. Bols, X. S. Tang, Nature Nanotechnology, 3, 347-351 (2008).

Please see Shirley Tang's Google Scholar profile for a current list of her peer-reviewed articles.

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