Yi Cui (Chinese: 崔屹; pinyin: Cuī Yì; born 1976) is a Chinese-American materials scientist, specializing in nanotechnology, and energy and environment-related research. Cui is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and by courtesy, of Chemistry at Stanford University. He is also a faculty member of Stanford Photon Science of SLAC and a Senior Fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy. He is a Fellow of Materials Research Society (MRS), Electrochemical Society (ECS), and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). He is a co-director of the Bay Area Photovoltaics Consortium, the Battery500 Consortium, and the StorageX initiative. He has been one of the world's most-cited researchers (Clarivate Analytics) and most influential scientific minds (Thomson Reuters). He has published over 480 research papers with an H-index of 193 (Google Scholar). He currently serves as an associate editor of Nano Letters from ACS Publications.
Cui was born in Laibin, Guangxi, China. He obtained his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1998. He pursued his graduate study in physical chemistry with Charles M. Lieber at Harvard University and obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. At Harvard, he pioneered nanoscale sensors and devices for highly sensitive detection based on the silicon nanowire technology. After that, he went to work as a Miller Postdoctoral Fellow with A. Paul Alivisatos at the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, he worked on electronic property and assembly of colloidal nanostructures. In 2005, he joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University as an assistant professor and started to pursue energy and environment-related research. He was granted tenure in 2010 and promoted to full professor in 2016.
Research and career
In 2004, Steven Chu became the director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where Chu launched several major initiatives centered on clean energy. Influenced by Chu's advocate on energy and climate change during his postdoctoral study at Berkeley, Cui decided to dedicate his Stanford lab to clean energy research and related topics. In 2008, his team reported "High-performance lithium battery anodes using silicon nanowires", which triggered global interests in the use of nanotechnology and nanomaterials for energy storage. Over the years, he has largely contributed to materials design for high energy-density batteries, grid-scale storage, and the safety of batteries. His group also covers a diverse array of research topics, such as solar cells, two-dimensional materials, electrocatalysis, textile engineering, water technology, air filtration, soil cleanup, and bio-nano interface.
More recently, Cui took inspirations from structural biology and employed Cryo-EM to image batteries at an atomic resolution for the first time. The high-resolution imaging unveiled the nature of lithium dendrites, providing mechanistic insights into the nanostructure of solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI). Currently, his group is implementing Cryo-EM to probe atomic and molecular details in the metal-organic framework, perovskite, and other nanomaterials.
Cui has established close collaboration with a number of Stanford faculty, including Steven Chu, Zhenan Bao, Robert Huggins, William Nix, Shanhui Fan, Bianxiao Cui, Harold Y. Hwang, Craig Criddle, Alexandria Boehm, Mark Brongersma, Michael McGehee, Zhi-Xun Shen, Shoucheng Zhang, Michael Toney, and Hongjie Dai, as well as Gang Chen from MIT.
He has also founded three companies to commercialize the technological breakthroughs from his research group: Amprius Inc., 4C Air Inc., and EEnovate Technology Inc.
- Battery Division Technology Award, The Electrochemical Society
- International Automotive Lithium Battery Association's Research Award (2019)
- Dan Maydan Prize in Nanoscience (2019)
- Nano Today Award (2019)
- Fellow of The Electrochemical Society (2018)
- Blavatnik National Laureate in Physical Sciences and Engineering (2017)
- Blavatnik National Award Finalist (2016)
- Top 10 World Changing Ideas (cooling textile) by Scientific American (2016)
- MRS Fellow (2016)
- MRS Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience (2015)
- Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry (2015)
- Small Young Innovator Awards (2015)
- Resonate Award for Sustainability (2015)
- Inorganic Chemistry Frontiers Award for Young Scientist (2015)
- Inaugural Schlumberger Chemistry Lectureship at University of Cambridge (2015)
- Top 10 World Changing Ideas (batteries that capture low-grade waste heat) by Scientific American (2014)
- Bau Family Awards in Inorganic Chemistry (2014)
- Inaugural Nano Energy Award Winner (2014)
- Blavatnik National Award Finalist (2014)
- IUPAC Distinguished Award for Novel Materials and Their Synthesis (2013)
- Scientist in Residence at the University of Duisburg-Essen (2013)
- Next Power Visiting Chair Professorship at National Tsing Hua University (2013)
- E. Bright Wilson Prize, Harvard University (2011)
- David Filo and Jerry Yang Faculty Scholar, Stanford University (2010-2014)
- Top 10 World Changing Ideas (water disinfection nanofilters) by Scientific American (2010)≠
- Sloan Research Fellowship, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (2010)
- The Global Energy and Climate Energy Project Distinguished Lectureship (2009)
- Investigator Award, KAUST (2008)
- Young Investigator Award, ONR (2008)
- Innovators Award, Mohr Davidow Ventures (2008)
- Terman Fellowship, Stanford University (2005)
- Top 100 Young Innovator Award, Technology Review (2004)
- Miller Research Fellowship, Miller Institute (2003)
- Distinguished Graduate Student Award in Nanotechnology, Foresight Institute (2002)
- Graduate Student Gold Medal Award, Materials Research Society (2001)
In 2008, Cui founded Amprius Technologies to commercialize silicon anodes for high energy density lithium-ion batteries. Over the past decade, the original concept developed by Cui's team has evolved into the first commercially produced lithium-ion battery that employs a 100% silicon nanowire anode with breakthrough performance approaching 500 Wh/kg over hundreds of cycles. Amprius has recently partnered with Airbus to boost the development of next-generation batteries based on Silicon Nanowire Anode technology.
In 2015, Cui co-founded 4C Air Inc., together with Steven Chu, aiming to bring clean air through innovative nanomaterials. This establishment was motivated by the increased morbidity and mortality associated with air pollution, mostly in developing countries. In particular, particulate matter with a diameter lower than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) is the most consistent and robust predictor of mortality in studies of long-term exposure. 4C Air harnesses the technology developed at Cui's group at Stanford and is currently developing products and solutions for PM2.5.
In 2017, Cui founded EEnovate Technology to develop nanotechnology for energy-related and environmental issues, including water purification, grid-scale energy storage, and smart wearable textiles. Recently, EEnovate is recognized by "Start-up City Magazine" as one of the most promising start-ups in 2019 for its wearable technology.
Cui is an avid soccer player and plays midfielder to orchestrate offense and defense. He currently serves on the board of Asian-American Youth Soccer Academy (AAYSA), a non-profit agency in San Francisco.