Stephen Y. Chou

Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering
Office Phone
B412 Engineering Quadrangle
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1986
  • M.A., Physics, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1982
  • B.S.  (Exam. Cert), Physics, University of Science and Technology of China, 1978

Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering
Associated Faculty in the Princeton Materials Institute (PMI)

Prof. Stephen Y. Chou's group, the Nano, Meta, and Bio-Health Laboratory (NMBH Lab) - formerly known as the Nanostructures Lab - has been exploring new nanofabrication technology; new nano, meta, and bio-health devices, systems; and new applications, for over 35 years. Chou's research integrates advanced nanotechnology with interdisciplinary knowledge.

Nanotechnology is a field ripe for innovation, as conventional theories often no longer apply at the nanoscale. By merging nanotechnology with cutting-edge concepts from various disciplines, Chou's group aims to create groundbreaking solutions for complex technological challenges.

The NMBH Lab currently focuses on three areas: (1) nano-bioengineering and health, including biosensors, diagnostics, and personal health; (2) nanophotonics, especially subwavelength optical elements (SOE) or meta-optics, which differ fundamentally from bulk optics and diffractive optics and enable ultra-thin, flat optical systems; and (3) nanofabrication.

Chou's pioneering research has spanned several fields, including nanofabrication, nanodevices (electrical, optical, magnetic, and biological) and their applications, bioengineering, and medical diagnostics. His groundbreaking inventions and pioneering works have created multiple new research fields, launched new industries, and generated multi-billion-dollar businesses, having transformed both academia and industry.

Chou's best-known inventions and pioneering works include: (1) Nanoimprint: A paradigm shift in nanopatterning methods that has revolutionized nanotechnology research and nanomanufacturing across various disciplines. Chou is recognized as “the father of the field of nanoimprint.”  He invented and demonstrated nanoimprint technology and envisioned its future in 1995, founded the first nanoimprint company in 1997, and has been a prominent inventor and developer of various nanoimprint technologies and applications, and a key driver in advancing the nanoimprint field. (2) Ultimate-Scaling and new architectures of nano-transistors, particularly the device architecture and the first experimental demonstration of the room-temperature crystal-Si single-electron transistor (~10 nm diameter wire-channel and 7 nm square floating gate) – representing the ultimate scaling limit of MOSFET (1996), and the wrap-around gate Si nanowire-MOSFET (termed "gate-all-around" or “GAA” today) and its parallel arrays (termed "nanoribbon transistor" today) that have necessary critical small channel width and thickness for short channel operation (1997). Today (2023) the GAA and nanoribbon transistor architectures begin to replace previous architecture for 3 nm node CMOS integrated circuits and beyond. (3) Pioneering development of various new SOEs and systems since 1994, when the SOE field had only a handful of researchers and seemed to have little future due to the lack of viable fabrication technologies. (4) Application of nanoimprint fabrication in the fields of electrical, optical, magnetic, and biological nanodevices, which has significantly enabled their research, manufacturing, and commercialization. Chou was not only the first to fabricate devices using nanoimprint in each of these fields but has also continuously advanced nanoimprint applications in these areas. Nanoimprint has revolutionized the SOE field (including VR goggles, new imagers and cameras) as examples. (5) An ultra-sensitive nanoplasmonic bio-chemical sensor, termed “disc-coupled dots-on-pillar antenna array” (D2PA): Offering up to 1,000,000 times signal enhancement and digital assay. And (6) iMOST™ (instant Mobile Self-Test) for digital health: A groundbreaking new diagnostic test platform that provides instant, laboratory-accurate results (even in imperfect conditions) at the point of care, at home, and elsewhere, operable by anyone, anytime, with an easy-to-use, low-cost, and portable design. iMOST was invented by Chou, drawing on his vision and nearly four decades of multidisciplinary research. Its development also integrated expertise in machine learning, computer vision, biochemistry, and diagnostics from his team.

Chou’s other inventions and pioneering works include various quantum transistors; single-domain patterned magnetic media (quantized disk) — a new paradigm in magnetic data storage; new nanophotonics (e.g., subwavelength optical elements, photodetectors, ultra-sensitive Raman and fluorescence sensors, nanoplasmonic LEDs and solar cells, and nanostructures for light extraction and trapping); nanochannel single DNA molecule analyzers; and a broad array of new nanopatterning techniques, including lithographically induced self-assembly (LISA), self-perfection by liquefaction (SPEL), and laser-assisted direct imprint (LADI).

Chou, a serial entrepreneur, has transformed some of his inventions, research breakthroughs, and visions for the future into new industries and significant commercial products. He has achieved this by founding, building, and leading three startup companies -- Nanonex Corp. (1997), NanoOpto Corp. (2000), and Essenlix Corp. (2013) -- and co-founding another, BioNano Genomics Inc. (BGI) (2003) (NASDAQ: BNGO)). Nanonex was the first company to commercialize nanoimprint technology. NanoOpto was one of the first companies to design and manufacture subwavelength optical elements (SOEs), also termed 'meta optics,' and was the first company to manufacture them using nanoimprint. Essenlix was the first company to commercialize Chou’s iMOST platform. BGI was the first company to employ nanochannels for stretching and mapping long strands of nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA.

Chou has authored over 700 refereed journal/conference papers (H-index = 97, ~44,000 citations) and delivered over 200 plenary/invited talks. He is the primary inventor and author of over 400 patents/applications in various fields, more than half have been granted. According to Google Patents, Chou’s technologies have been referenced in over 35,000 patents/applications worldwide.


Selected Publications
  1. F. Zang, Z. Su, L. Zhou, K. Konduru, G. Kaplan, S.Y. Chou, “Ultrasensitive Ebola virus antigen sensing via 3D nanoantenna arrays”, Advanced Materials 31 (30), 1902331 (2019).
  2. W. Ding, Y. Wang, H. Chen, and S. Y. Chou, "Plasmonic Nanocavity Organic Light-Emitting Diode with Significantly Enhanced Light Extraction, Contrast, Viewing Angle, Brightness, and Low-Glare," DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201400964, Adv. Funct. Mater. (2014).
  3. S. Y. Chou and W. Ding, "Ultrathin, high-efficiency, broad-band, omni-acceptance, organic solar cells enhanced by plasmonic cavity with sub-wavelength hole array," Optics Express 21 (1) A60–A76 (2013).
  4. L. Zhou, F. Ding, H. Chen, W. Ding, W. Zhang, S.Y. Chou, “Enhancement of immunoassay’s fluorescence and detection sensitivity using three-dimensional plasmonic nano-antenna-dots array”,  Analytical chemistry 84 (10), 4489-4495 (2012)
  5. H. Cao, Z. Yu, J. Wang, J.O. Tegenfeldt, R.H. Austin, E. Chen, W. Wu, S.Y. Chou, “Fabrication of 10 nm enclosed nanofluidic channels” Applied physics letters 81 (1), 174-176 (2002)
  6. S. Y. Chou, “Subwavelength Optical Elements (SOEs) and Nanofabrication - A path to Integrate Optical Communication Components on a Chip,” Invited Talk, CLEOS 2002, Los Angeles, CA, May 19-22 (2002).
  7. S. Y. Chou, C. Keimel, and J. Gu, “Ultra fast and direct imprint of nanostructures in silicon,” Nature, 417, 835-837 (2002).
  8. J. Wang, X. Y. Sun, L. Chen, and S. Y. Chou, “Direct Nanoimprint Lithography of Submicron Organic Light-emitting Structures,” Appl. Phys. Lett., 75 (18), 2767-2769 (1999).
  9. S. Y. Chou, “Subwavelength Optical Elements and Their Applications in VCSELS,” Invited paper, SPIE, San Jose, CA, Jan. 26-29, 1998, SPIE Vol. 3290, 73-81 (1997).
  10. E. Chen and S. Y. Chou, “A Novel Device for Detecting the Polarization Direction of Linear Polarized Light Using Integrated Subwavelength Gratings and Photodetectors,” IEEE Photonics Technology Letters, 9 (9), 1259 (1997).
  11. S. J. Schablitsky, L. Zhuang, R. C. Shi, and S. Y. Chou, “Controlling Polarization of Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers Using Amorphous Silicon Subwavelength Transmission Gratings,” Appl. Phys. Lett., 69 (1), 7-9 (1996).
  12. E. Leobandung, J. Gu, L. Guo, and S. Y. Chou, “Wire-channel and Wraparound Gate Metal-oxide-semiconductor Field-effect Transistors with a Significant Reduction of Short Channel Effects,” J. Vac. Sci. Technol., B 15 (6), 2791 (1997).
  13. L. Guo, E. Leobandung, and S. Y. Chou, “A Silicon Single-Electron Transistor Memory Operating at Room Temperature,” Science, 275, 649 (1997).
  14. H. Tan, A. Gilbertson, and S. Y. Chou, “Roller nanoimprint lithography,” J. Vac. Sci. & Technol., B, 16 (6) 3926-3928 (1998).
  15. S.Y. Chou, P.R. Krauss, P.J. Renstrom, “Imprint of sub‐25 NM vias and trenches in polymers”, Applied physics letters 67 (21), 3114-3116 (1995)

Google Scholar Profile

Honors and Awards: 

  • Member of National Academy of Engineering (2007)
  • Member of National Academy of Inventors (2013)
  • IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award (2004)
  • IEEE Nanotechnology Pioneer Award (2014)
  • Nanoimprint Pioneer Award (2015)
  • Inductee of New Jersey High Tech Hall of Fame (2004)
  • Packard Fellow (1991)
  • Fellow of IEEE (2000)
  • Fellow of Optical Society (OSA) (2011)
  • Fellow of the American Vacuum Society (AVS) (2010)
  • Fellow of the International Society for Nanomanufacturing (ISNM) (2010)
  • "Ten Emerging Technologies That Would Change World", MIT Technology Review (2003) - Nanoimprint
  • "Ten Emerging Technologies That Would Change World", MIT Technology Review (2007) - Nanochannel for nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) analysis
  • Nano 50 Award (Inventor) (2007)
  • Einstein Professorship, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2011)
  • Pan Wen Yuan Foundation, Outstanding Research Award (2009)
  • Distinguished Achievement Award, Chinese Institute of Engineers, USA (2007)
  • DARPA ULTRA Program Significant Technical Achievement (1997)
  • George Taylor Distinguished Research Award, University of Minnesota (1995)
  • IBM Faculty Development Award (1990)
  • Joseph C. Elgin Professor, Princeton University (1997)
  • Junior McKnight-Land Grant Professor, University of Minnesota (1992)
Research Areas
Biological & Biomedical
Materials & Devices