Faculty Directory

Yu, Miao

Yu, Miao

Mechanical Engineering
The Institute for Systems Research
Maryland Robotics Center
2106A Glenn L. Martin Hall

Dr. Miao Yu received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Engineering Mechanics from Tsinghua University in 1996 and 1998, respectively and her Ph.D. in 2002 from the University of Maryland. She joined the University of Maryland as an Assistant Professor in January 2005. A core focus of her work is to study biologically systems and apply biologically inspired ideas in engineering systems, with specific research directions promising significant impacts in areas such as health care, safety, and defense.

Yu has also focused on developing fundamental understanding of light and matter interactions at micro and nanoscales, specifically manipulation and sensing of bio-particles with light and manipulation of light with surface plasmonics and metamaterials. Her primary approach to these studies is to develop microscale and nanoscale photonic structures and to study the light and matter interaction at micro and nanoscales. remove this sentence.

Her awards and honors include receipt of the 2006 Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. In 2007 she was recognized with both the NSF CAREER Award and the Young Investigator Research Program Award from AFOSR for her work on biology inspired sensors. Yu holds 10 invention disclosures and 4 issued U.S. patents and one pending U.S. patent. One of these patents was the basis for her receipt of the University of Maryland’s 2002 Invention of theYear award in the category of Physical Sciences and her two other inventions were selected as one of the three finalists for the same award in 2010 and 2011.

She is the director of the Sensors & Actuators Laboratory, dedicated to research on micro/nano sensors, photonics, and smart materials and structures. She was the director of the Maryland Robotics Center from July 2017–June 2019.


Ph.D., (Mechanical Engineering) University of Maryland, 2002

M.S., (Engineering Mechanics) Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 1998

B.S., (Engineering Mechanics) Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 1996

Honors and awards

Young faculty awards

NSF CAREER for "Biology-Inspired Miniature Optical Directional Microphones: Bridging Biological Systems and Sensor Technology," 2007

AFOSR Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award for fly ear-inspired sensors for micro-air vehicles, 2007

University System of Maryland awards

USM Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Research/Scholarship/Creative Activities, 2019

Wilson H. Elkins Professorship, FY2024–FY2025

University of Maryland awards

The Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, 2006

Invention of the Year Award in the Physical Sciences Category, 2002


Six invention disclosures, three U.S. patents in the area of fiber-optic sensor systems

Professional memberships

Paper Reviewer for Journal of Precision Engineering, Journal of Mechatronics, and Journal of Experimental Mechanics, AIAA Journal, Journal of Experimental Mechanics, Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, Journal of Acoustic Society of America, IEEE/ASME Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems

ASEE Field Reviewer for Post-doctoral Fellowship Proposals

Program Committee of SPIE Conference on Modeling, Signal Processing and Control, since 2004

Technical Committee of ASME-IMECE on Dynamics and Control of Structures and Systems, since 2006

Program Committee of SPIE Optics East Conference on Sensors for Harsh Environments, 2007

Program Committee of SPIE Photonics Asia Conference on Advanced Materials and  Devices for Sensing and Imaging, 2007



Wave matter interactions; photonic sensors; metamaterials,  micro- and nano-scale sensor systems; bio-inspired sensors, robotic sensing; sensor networks; adaptive optics, wavefront sensing and control, imaging through turbulence; smart materials and structures


  • Y. Liu and M. Yu, "Investigation of inclined dual-fiber optical tweezers for 3D manipulation and force sensing," Opt. Express, 17, 13624-13638, 2009.


  • H. Liu, M. Yu, and X. M. Zhang, “Biomimetic optical directional microphone with structurally coupled diaphragms,”  Applied Physics Letters, 93, 243902, 2008.
  • M. Yu, X. Long, and B. Balachandran, “Sensor diaphragm under initial tension: nonlinear responses and design implications,” Journal of Sound and Vibration, Vol. 312, pp. 39–54, 2008.
  • S. Nesson, M. Yu, X. M. Zhang, and A. Hsieh, “Miniature fiber-optic pressure sensor with composite polymer-metal diaphragm for intradiscal pressure measurements,” Journal of Biomedical Optics, Vol. 13(4), 044040, 2008.
  • L. Currano, S. Bauman, W. Churaman, M. Peckerar, J. Wienke, S. Kim, M. Yu, and B. Balachandran, “Latching MEMS shock sensors for ultra-low power acceleration monitoring,” Sensors and Actuators A: Physical,  Vol. 147 (2), pp. 490-497, 2008.


  • W. M. Zhu, T. Zhong, A. Q. Liu, X. M. Zhang, and M. Yu, “Micromachined optical well structure for thermo-optic switching,” Applied Physics Letters, 91, 261106, 2007.


  • M. Yu and B. Balachandran, “Pressure sensor diaphragm under initial tension: linear analysis,” Experimental Mechanics, Vol. 45 (2): pp 123-129, 2005.


  • M. Yu and M. A. Vorontsov, “Compensation of distant phase-distorting layers I: Narrow field of view adaptive receiver system,” Journal of the Optical Society of America A, Vol. 21(9), pp.1645-1658, 2004.
  • M. A. Vorontsov and M. Yu, “Compensation of distant phase-distorting layers II: Extended field of view adaptive receiver system,” Journal of the Optical Society of America A, Vol. 21(9), pp. 1659-1668, 2004.


  • M. Yu and B. Balachandran, “Acoustic measurements using a fiber optic sensor system,” Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures, Vol. 14(7), pp. 409-414, 2003.

University of Maryland Has Strong Presence at ICRA 2024

Researchers detail advancements in navigation, trajectory planning.

Balachandran, Cameron, Yu Receive 2024 MURI Award

A multidisciplinary team of researchers will study complexity science.

Yu Named Elkins Professor

Award to support research on marine ecosystem monitoring, boost collaboration.

Miao Yu to develop cost-effective sensor for measuring lake health

NSF funding will improve sensing for long-term lake deployment, even under winter ice.

Miao Yu receives NSF funding to develop ice-measuring sensors

Novel acoustic metamaterials will be incorporated into a tool that can provide long-range, high-resolution thickness and internal structure measurements for improved polar ice melt estimates.

UMD’s Tubaldi Wins NSF CAREER Award

Improved cardiovascular implants could be one result of an ME faculty member’s groundbreaking research.

UMD’s SeaDroneSim can generate simulated images and videos to help UAV systems recognize ‘objects of interest’ in the water

The suite’s simulated objects could fill a large dataset gap for the UAV-based computer vision systems used in searching for maritime objects.

Two papers by Yu and colleagues advance development of lenses and waveguides

The innovations may improve devices used in health monitoring, energy harvesting, vibration control and other fields.

'OysterNet' + underwater robots will aid in accurate oyster count

The ability to mathematically model and simulate oysters will help scientists more quickly and accurately detect the density of the bivalves in the Chesapeake Bay.

The Modern Battle for Maryland’s Oysters

UMD researchers use AI and robotics to help revive a struggling industry.

Acoustic waveguide developed using cascaded acoustic Luneburg lenses

The invention could be used as an on-chip waveguide as part of an acoustic circuit for acoustic communications.

Zhao, Yu, Horiuchi propose gradient index acoustic metamaterial Luneburg lens

The researchers achieve double-foci and high energy density, realizing an ultra-long acoustic jet between the two foci.

Newly-Opened SMART Building to Spur Autonomy Research

Maryland engineering will benefit from state-of-the-art labs and facilities at USMSM.

UMD Engineers Help Pioneer New Treatment for Respiratory Failure

NSF awards $3.6 million to support “third lung” research.

Using underwater robots to detect and count oysters

This UMD project is one part of a larger USDA NIFA grant to modernize shellfish aquaculture

Young Investigator Fellowship Supports "Third Lung" Research

Project members are developing the "Third Lung," a transformative technology for extra-pulmonary respiration.

UMD Researchers to Have a Strong Showing at ICRA 2021

University of Maryland researchers will present 15 papers at the IEEE International Conference on Robotis and Automation (ICRA 2021) to held on May 30 to June 5, 2021.

Stretchable, soft sensing skins for robots

Such skins could equip soft robots with integrated sensing and estimation.

Nanotechnology pushes RI-based gas sensing forward

Miao Yu's research on ultracompact fiber-optic differential gas sensor published in Optics Express.

‘Smellicopter’ drone uses live moth antenna to seek smells, avoid obstacles

Timothy Horiuchi is a co-author on the research published in IOP Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.

MRC Faculty and Researchers to Present 16 Papers at International Robotics Conference - IROS 2020

International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems - From 25 October 2020 until 29 November 2020

Maryland engineers receive $10M to transform shellfish farming

The team will help farmers tap the economic potential and environmental benefits of shellfish aquaculture.

Spread Hope: The "Smart Bra"

The "smart bra" is a low-cost wearable device that could conceivably detect breast cancer early enough for treatment.

A multi-functional variable thickness Luneburg lens for energy harvesting

The lens could also be used in structural health monitoring, medical diagnosis and therapy and ultrasonic imaging.

Derek Paley named Maryland Robotics Center director

Paley's term will begin July 1, 2019.

Miao Yu honored with USM Regents Faculty Award

Yu will be honored for her for excellence in research/scholarship/creative activities.

Maryland Robotics Center students present results of semester-long project on robotics in agriculture and aquaculture

Teams identified challenges of Maryland agriculture and aquaculture that could be addressed or assisted with robotics technologies.

Lu, Gollob win ISR annual awards

ISR's outstanding graduate student and undergraduate student awards were given at the Institute's welcome back reception.

Bioinspired robotics REU students present final projects

The REU was led by Hugh Bruck and Sarah Bergbreiter, along with Clark School faculty and graduate student mentors.

Yu Named ASME Fellow

Professor Miao Yu has been named an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Fellow.

ISR faculty leading bio-inspired robotics and transportation electrification REUs

NSF's REU program provides undergraduate students with hands-on exposure to scientific research.

Miao Yu named Maryland Robotics Center director

Yu develops sensors useful in a variety of robotics applications.

Miao Yu promoted to full professor

Her new rank will become effective July 1, 2017.

Miao Yu wins NSF grant to develop planar photonic crystals

Work could contribute to development of novel ultrasound transducers.

New AFOSR NIFTI Center features eight Clark School faculty

Center will create bio-inspired solutions for small, remotely operated aircraft.

Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program Approves 18 Technology Development Projects

Worth $4.7 million, the projects team Maryland faculty and companies to bring products closer to market.

Students present final projects for 2014 NSF Microrobotics REU

Research ranged from robotic skin to leg designs, inertial tail actuators, and more.

Bruck, Smela, Yu receive NSF grant for compliant multifunctional robotic structures

National Robotics Initiative grant will develop a robotic 'nervous system.'

Six ISR students named to Future Faculty Fellows program

Clark School program prepares students for academic careers in Top-50 engineering schools.

Miao Yu selected for NAE Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

Yu is one of 100 young engineers selected to discuss cutting-edge research.

Davis, Yu, Subrahmanian finalists at Invention of the Year Awards

Annual awards honor outstanding inventors and inventions from the University of Maryland.

Miao Yu promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Yu recently was a finalist for Invention of the Year.

Miao Yu wins NSF grant for fiber optic tweezers

The project will develop a flexible and efficient dexterous dual fiber tweezers system.

Espy-Wilson, Rubloff win 'Invention of the Year' awards

Inventions could improve speech comprehension in noisy environments, battery capacity.

Mathieu Aubailly is new Assistant Research Scientist

Former ISR postdoc conducts research in the Intelligent Optics Laboratory.

Six ISR students selected for Future Faculty Program

Clark School program helps students prepare for academic positions.

Aerospace publication highlights Miao Yu research

Fly ear work of ISR-affiliated professor could aid MAV navigation.

Yu, Balachandran awarded US Patent 7,428,054

Micro-optical fiber tip based sensor system will measure pressure, acceleration and pressure gradients.

Spring 2008 Systems Solutions available

Two symposiums, research and industry news, faculty and alumni updates, and more in ISR's newsletter.

Miao Yu Receives AFOSR YIP Award

Award will support research on fly ear-inspired sensors for detection and localization.

Patent issued to Balachandran, Al-Bassyiouni and Yu

The invention is a fiber optic sensor system for pressure measurements.

Miao Yu wins NSF CAREER Award

Yu's research will create a new class of miniature directional microphones inspired by the remarkable sound localizing ears of the fly Ormia.

Miao Yu wins Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award

ISR-affiliated Assistant Professor Miao Yu (ME) will receive funds to assist with research.

Yu joining Mechanical Engineering Department

December 2004—ISR postdoctoral researcher accepts tenure-track position.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)