Two MME Profs win the WIN Research Leaders Award

Friday, October 30, 2020

Carolyn Ren and Yimin A Wu, both engineering professors in Mechanical Mechatronics Engineering at University of Waterloo, and are two of 16 recipients recognized for achievements for outstanding contributions to the nanotechnology field.

The award is given by the field from the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology for the criteria:

  • Individual or group receiving major grants with value equal or greater than $500K
  • Major national and international awards
  • Published books and other major scholarships and creativity

Carolyn RenCarolyn Ren will be honoured for her work on the Development of a Microwave Enabled Bio-Nano-Microfluidic Device for Point-of-Care Diagnosis of Covid-19 which leverages the expertise of team members in engineering, nanotechnology, viral immunology and clinical medicine, funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR). The instrument would consist of battery-powered microwave circuitry and a microwave-microfluidic device with a sensor surface modified by gold nanoparticles to recognize the COVID-19 virus. The research received accolades from Canadian Health Minister, the Honorable, Patty Hajdu.

Yimin A Wu is being honoured  for his work on "artificial leaf" technology, published in the Nature Energy journal,  Facet-dependent active sites of a single Cu2O particle photocatalyst for CO2 reduction to methanol and for the corresponding grant Yimin A Wufrom the National Research Council for Materials for Clean Fuels Challenge. Professor Wu was also nominated for the MIT Technology Review for “Top 35 Under 35” (award finalist 2020).

The artificial leaf technology was inspired by the way plants use energy from sunlight to turn carbon dioxide into food. “We call it an artificial leaf because it mimics real leaves and the process of photosynthesis,” said Yimin Wu, an engineering professor at the University of Waterloo who led the research. “A leaf produces glucose and oxygen. We produce methanol and oxygen.”

A virtual celebration is being held Nov 24th, 2020 to celebrate Yimin Wu and Carolyn Ren. Emceeing the event is Sushanta K Mitra, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering Professor and Executive Director of WIN.

About the WIN Research Leaders Award Recipients

Carolyn Ren is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering and a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Lab-on-a- Chip technology. She is also the Director of the Waterloo Microfluidics Laboratory, a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of Royal Society of Canada, and a fellow of the Canadian Society of Mechanical Engineers. Carolyn Ren is also an entrepreneur and has co-founded four companies, Advanced Electrophoresis Solutions Inc. focusing on protein separation, Quantwave Technology Inc. focusing on microwave sensing for water and food quality control, Air Microfluidic Systems Inc. specialized in soft robotic wearable systems, and Alphaxon focusing on protein fractionation. Carolyn Ren is a member of Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology, Water Institute, Center for Bioengineering and Biotechnologies, and Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research.

Yimin A. Wu is an Assistant Professor the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering.  His research focuses on the design of new energy materials for solar fuels and batteries, and novel electronic, photonic, responsive materials for flexible electronics and soft robotics, and energy efficient neuromorphic computing through a deep understanding of energy transduction processes at interfaces. Wu is responsible for the Materials Interfaces Foundry (MIF) at the University of Waterloo. Wu has authored and co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed journal papers, which includes Nature, Nature Energy (x 2), Nature communications. Wu is also listed as an inventor on 1 US/international patent. Wu has delivered over 20 invited lectures across the world in last 5 years.

About WIN

The Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) is a global leader in discovering and developing smart and functional materials, connected devices, next generation energy systems and, therapeutics and theranostics. These discoveries by our scientists and engineers are fundamentally changing our world and helping solve some of humanity's most pressing issues. Our 285, 000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility meets the highest scientific standards for control of vibration, electromagnetic radiation, temperature and humidity making it a global centre of excellence for nanotechnology and its applications.


Twitter: @WINano




Wu, Y.A., McNulty, I., Liu, C. et al. Facet-dependent active sites of a single Cu2O particle photocatalyst for CO2 reduction to methanol. Nat Energy 4, 957–968 (2019).

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