Zhao Qin

Assistant Professor

Civil & Environmental Engineering


  • Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2013, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • M.Eng., Engineering Mechanics, 2008, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  • B.Eng., Engineering Mechanics, 2006, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Research interests:

  • Development of advanced computational modeling methods for designing new materials of advanced material functions.
  • Bottom-up modeling of the multi-scale structure-mechanics relationship of nano- and bio-materials. Fundamental understanding of the material behaviors of biological and synthetic polymeric materials from the most molecular scale to macroscopic length scale.
  • Learn from nature and discover bio-inspired ideas to create and design materials with innovative material functions.
  • Prototyping, optimization and characterization of synthetic composite materials with multiple advanced material functions, for efficient usage of engineering materials.

Current Research:

My research focuses on developing advanced computational modeling methods, using them to study fundamental mechanical properties of biological materials and applying the knowledge to design new materials of advanced mechanical functions. I have a broad background in mechanics and structure of materials, with specific training and expertise in the multi-scale structure-mechanics relationship in biological materials. My research focuses on the structure and mechanics insight of general natural materials as many of them, such as mussel glue, insect wings and membranes, have fascinating mechanical and biological properties built up from simple basic molecular building blocks. I am thus strongly motivated to develop tools that enable us to learn from nature to make material innovations more efficient. I have developed a multi-scale high-throughput computational modeling method that enables me to study materials from the most fundamental molecular scale to macroscopic length scale. I have applied the tool to the investigations of several different biological materials and have revealed new mechanisms hidden in their complex structures. Some of the findings contribute to fundamental understandings of diseases that take place from the molecular scale; others contribute to designs and prototyping of synthetic composite materials with multiple advanced material functions. I have developed principles to help to optimize the material functions through structures, making it feasible to rationally design the mechanics and longevity of composite materials, leading to better performance with less energetic and environmental cost than conventional engineering materials for industrial applications.

Teaching Interests:

  • Multiscale Material Modeling and Simulations
  • Engineering Materials
  • Structures and Materials
  • Mechanics of Solids


  • Best paper award in Journal of Applied Mechanics (ASME) for the paper “Bioinspired Graphene Nanogut” among papers published during 2012~2013
  • Outstanding Paper Award, ASME Global Congress on Nano Engineering for Medicine and Biology, Boston, MA, 2013
  • Chinese Government Award For Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad, 2011, NY, 2011
  • Best Paper Award, International Journal of Applied Mechanics (Imperial College Press) 2010
  • Schoettler Graduate Fellowship, Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT, 2010
  • SAMSUNG Scholarship, Tsinghua University, China, 2007
  • 2nd Rank National Scholarship, Tsinghua University, China, 2003

Recent Publications:

Zhao Qin, Lingfei Wu, Hui Sun, Siyu Huo, Tengfei Ma, Eugene Lim, Pin-Yu Chen, Benedetto Marelli, Markus J Buehler (2020), Artificial intelligence method to design and fold alpha-helix structural proteins from the primary amino acid sequence, Extreme Mechanics Letters, 36, 100652

Ji Liu, Shaoting Lin, Xinyue Liu, Zhao Qin, Yueying Yang, Jianfeng Zang, and Xuanhe Zhao (2020), Fatigue-resistant Adhesion of Hydrogels, Nature Communications, 11, 1071

Jinrong Wu, Zhao Qin, Liangliang Qu, Hao Zhang, Fei Deng, Ming Guo (2019), Natural hydrogel in American lobster: a soft armour with high toughness and strength, Acta Biomaterialia, Vol 88, pp. 102-110

Yimo Han, Ming-Yang Li, Gang-Seob Jung, Mark A. Marsalis, Zhao Qin, Markus J. Buehler, Lain-Jong Li, David A. Muller (2018), Sub-Nanometer Channels Embedded in Two-Dimensional Materials, Nature Materials, Vol. 17, pp 129-133

Zhao Qin, Gang Seob Jung, Min Jeong Kang, Markus J. Buehler (2017), The mechanics and design of light-weight three-dimensional graphene assembly, Science Advances, Vol. 3, paper #: e1601536