Dr Michael Xianfeng Chen

Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering



+44(0)131 6502784


2.069 Faraday Building

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Engineering Discipline: 

  • Chemical Engineering

Research Institute: 

  • Bioengineering

Research Theme: 

  • Bioengineering
  • Sensors
  • Materials Design, Processing and Characterisation
Dr Michael Chen
Dr Michael Chen


Dr Chen's research is focused on biomaterials, biomedical engineering, and the application of nanomaterials in biology and medicine. In these areas, he has been working on physical (microneedle & nanoneedle arrays) and chemical (nanomaterials) for drug delivery and sensing as well as 3D printed microfluidics.

He has published over 130 papers in peer-reviewed journals including Science Advances, Nature Communications, Advanced Materials, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Advanced Functional Materials, Small, Advanced Healthcare Materials, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Nano Letters, ACS Nano, Biomaterials, Journal of Controlled Release, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, and Chemical Society Reviews. These publications generated an h-index of 58 and > 8600 citations. Additionally, he has 3 book chapters and 12 granted patents & 15 patent applications in drug delivery technologies in major countries and regions, mosted in the USA.

Academic Qualifications: 

  • DPhil in Materials Science, University of Oxford
  • MSc in Chemistry, National University of Singapore

Professional Qualifications and Memberships: 

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), United Kingdom
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), United Kingdom
  • Committee member of the Biotechnology Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry, United Kingdom


  • Process Plant Engineering CHEE08016
  • Nanomaterials in Chemical & Biomedical Engineering CHEE11026 (With Dr Norbert Radacsi)

Research Interests: 

Broadly, our research areas of interest include advanced drug delivery systems, biomaterials, biomedical engineering, materials chemistry, and nanomaterials & nanotechnology. We carry out research spanning from materials design, synthesis, and characterisation to preclinical in vitro and in vivo test as well as understanding the underlying biological mechanisms.

Specifically, our current research includes:

  1. Nanomedicines for breast and prostate cancers and their metastases;
  2. Wearable and flexible healthcare devices;
  3. Nanomaterials for antibacterial applications;
  4. Single cell analysis;
  5. Microfluidics.

We welcome outstanding PhD applicants to join our group. The University of Edinburgh and the School of Engineering provide PhD scholarships for exceptional applicants. We also welcome the applicants who have alternative funding support.

Selected publications (*Corresponding authors; vast majority papers appearing in field's top 10% journals)

Latest publications

  1. X Chen*, Current and future technological advances in transdermal gene delivery, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 127, 85-105, 2018.
  2. N Wang, ZG Wang, ZF Xu, X Chen, G Zhu, A cisplatin-loaded immuno-chemotherapeutic nanohybrid bearing immune checkpoint inhibitors for enhanced cervical cancer therapy, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 57(13), 3426-3430, 2018.
  3. X Chen*, WJ Zhang*, Diamond nanostructures for drug delivery, bioimaging, and biosensing, Chemical Society Reviews, 46, 734-760, 2017.
  4. SH Liu, Y Fu, GJ Li, L Li, HKW Law, X Chen*, F Yan*, Conjugated polymer for voltage-controlled release of molecules, Advanced Materials, 29(35), article number 1701733, 2017.
  5. L Yan, MJ Zhou, XJ Zhang*, LB Huang, W Chen, VAL Roy, WJ Zhang*, X Chen*, A novel type of aqueous dispersible ultrathin layered double hydroxide nanosheets for in vivo bioimaging and drug delivery, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 9(39), 34185-34193, 2017.
  6. L Yan, X Chen*, ZG Wang, XJ Zhang, XY Zhu, MJ Zhou, W Chen, LB Huang, VAL Roy, PKN Yu, G Zhu, WJ Zhang*, Size controllable and surface tunable zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8)-poly(acrylic acid sodium salt) (PAAS) nanocomposites for pH responsive drug release and enhanced in vivo cancer treatment, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 9(38), 32990-33000, 2017.
  7. L Yan, ZG Wang, X Chen*, XJ Gou, ZY Zhang, XY Zhu, MH Lan, W Chen, G Zhu, WJ Zhang*, Firmly anchored photosensitizer Chlorin e6 to layered double hydroxide nanosheets for highly efficient photodynamic therapy, Chemical Communications, 53, 2339-2342, 2017.
  8. XY Nan, XJ Zhang*, YQ Liu, MJ Zhou, X Chen*, XH Zhang*, Dual-targeted multifunctional nanoparticles for magnetic resonance imaging guided cancer diagnosis and therapy, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 9 (11), 9986-9995, 2017.

Nanotechnologies for drug delivery (physical approaches)

  1. XY Zhu, MF Yuen, FJ Ai, L Yan, Y Yang, KN Yu, G Zhu*, WJ Zhang*, X Chen*, Diamond- nanoneedle-array-facilitated intracellular delivery and the potential influence on cell physiology, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 5(10), 1157-1168, 2016. (Inside Cover)
  2. Y Wang, Y Yang, L Yan, SY Kwok, W Li, ZG Wang, XY Zhu, GY Zhu, WJ Zhang*, X Chen*, P Shi*, Poking cells for efficient vector-free intracellular delivery, Nature Communications, 5, article number: 4466, 2014.
  3. L Yan, Y Yang, WJ Zhang, X Chen*, Advanced materials and nanotechnology for drug delivery, Advanced Materials, 26(31), 5533-5540, 2014. (Back Cover)
  4. X Chen*, G Zhu*, Y Yang, B Wang, et al., A diamond nanoneedle array for potential high-throughput intracellular delivery, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 2(8), 1103-1107, 2013. (Front Cover, Cover Story)

Nanomedicine for anticancer therapy

  1. MJ Zhou, XJ Zhang*, CT Yu, XY Nan, X Chen*, XH Zhang, Shape regulated anticancer activities and systematic toxicities of drug nanocrystals in vivo, Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine, 12(1), 181-189, 2016.
  2. JF Zhang, YN Li, FF An, XH Zhang, X Chen, CS Lee, Preparation and size control of sub-100 nm pure nanodrugs, Nano Letters, 15(1), 313-318, 2015.
  3. JF Zhang, XD Lin, XY Zhu, L Yan, SL Li, X Yang, P Shi, AL Rogach, GY Zhu, XH Zhang, X Chen, WJ Zhang, CS Lee, Self-monitoring and self-delivery of photosensitizer-doped nanoparticles for highly effective combination cancer therapy in vitro and in vivo, ACS Nano, 9(10), 9741-9756, 2015.
  4. R Chen, JF Zhang, Y Wang, X Chen*, JA Zapien, CS Lee*, Graphitic carbon nitride nanosheet/metal-organic framework core-shell nanoparticles for photo-chemo combination therapy, Nanoscale, 7, 17299-17305, 2015. (Front Cover)
  5. CT Yu, MJ Zhou, XJ Zhang*, WJ Wei, X Chen*, XH Zhang*, Smart doxorubicin nanoparticles with high drug payload for enhanced chemotherapy against drug resistance and cancer diagnosis, Nanoscale, 7, 5683-5690, 2015.
  6. L Yan, JF Zhang, CS Lee, X Chen*, Micro- and nanotechnologies for intracellular delivery, Small, 10(22), 4487-4504, 2014.
  7. L Yan, W Chen, XY Zhu, LB Huang, ZG Wang, GY Zhu, VAL Roy, KN Yu, X Chen*, Folic acid conjugated self-assembled layered double hydroxides nanoparticles for high-efficacy-targeted drug delivery, Chemical Communications, 49, 10938-10940, 2013.

Nanomaterials for biomedical imaging

  1. RR Xu, LM Huang, X Chen*, WJ Wei, XH Zhang, XJ Zhang*, Real-time imaging and tracking of ultrastable organic dye nanoparticles in living cells, Biomaterials, 93, 38-47, 2016.
  2. MH Lan, JF Zhang, PF Wang*, X Chen*, CS Lee, WJ Zhang*, Highly stable organic fluorescence nanorods for living cell imaging, Nano Research, 8(7), 2380-2389, 2015.
  3. J Yu, XJ Zhang*, XJ Hao, XH Zhang, MJ Zhou, CS Lee*, X Chen*, Near-infrared fluorescence imaging using organic dye nanoparticles, Biomaterials, 35, 3356-3364, 2014.
  4. J Yu, XJ Diao, XJ Zhang, X Chen, XJ Hao, et al., Water-dispersible, pH-stable and highly-luminescent organic dye nanoparticles with amplified emissions for in vitro and in vivo bioimaging, Small, 10(6), 1125-1132, 2014.

Nanomaterials for biosensing

  1. YQ Zhao, YL Zhang*, JA Huang, X Chen*, WJ Zhang*, Plasmonic nanopillar array embedded microfluidic chips: an in-situ SERS monitoring platform, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 3, 6408-6413, 2015.
  2. HQ Huang, R Chen, L Yan, YQ Zhao, WJ Zhang*, J Fan*, X Chen*, Graphitic carbon nitride solid films for selective and recyclable sensing of Cu2+ and Ag+ in water and serum, Chemical Communications, 50, 15415-15418, 2014.
  3. YQ Zhao, JA Huang, X Chen*, WJ Zhang*, Quantitative analysis of multiplex-components and double stranded DNA by wide-range surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy based on ordered Ag/Si nanowire arrays, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2, 10218-10224, 2014.
  4. MH Lan, JF Zhang, YS Chui, PF Wang, X Chen, CS Lee, HL Kwong, WJ Zhang, Carbon nanoparticles based ratiometric fluorescent sensor for detecting mercury ions in aqueous media and living cells, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 6(23), 21270-21278, 2014.

Previous research

  1. XJ Zhang, JS Jie, W Deng, QX Shang, JC Wang, H Wang, X Chen, LM Huang, XH Zhang, Alignment and patterning of ordered small-molecule organic semiconductor micro/nanocrystals for device applications, Advanced Materials, 28(13), 2475-2503, 2016.
  2. AP Raphael, ML Crichton, RJ Falconer, S Meliga, X Chen, et al., Formulations for microprojection/microneedle vaccine delivery: structure, strength and release profiles, Journal of Controlled Release, 225, 40-52, 2016. (Front Cover and Editor Cover Story)
  3. M Zhang, YH Zhao, L Yan, WL Hui, X Yao, YL Cui, X Chen, H Sun, Z Wang, Interface engineering of bimetallic Ag/Pt nanoparticles on reduced graphene oxide matrix for enhanced antimicrobial activity, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 8, 8834-8840, 2016.
  4. W Li, RC Luo, XD Lin, AD Jadhav, ZC Zhang, L Yan, CY Chan, X Chen, JF He, CH Chen, P Shi, Remote modulation of neural activities via near-infrared triggered release of biomolecules, Biomaterials, 65, 76-85, 2015.
  5. ZG Wang, R Ma, L Yan, X Chen, G Zhu, Combined chemotherapy and photodynamic therapy using a nanohybrid based on layered double hydroxides to conquer cisplatin resistance, Chemical Communications, 51, 11587-11590, 2015.
  6. R Ma, YP Wang, L Yan, LL Ma, ZG Wang, HC Chan, SK Chiu, X Chen, GY Zhu, Efficient co-delivery of Pt(IV) prodrug and p53 activator to enhance the anticancer activity of cisplatin, Chemical Communications, 51, 7859-7862, 2015.
  7. L Yan, AP Raphael, XY Zhu, BL Wang, W Chen, T Tang, Y Deng, HJ Sant, G Zhu, KW Choy,  BK Gale, TW Prow, X Chen*, Nanocomposite strengthened dissolving microneedles for improved transdermal delivery to human skin, Advanced Healthcare Materials, 3(4), 555-564, 2014.
  8. LB Huang, Y Zhou, ST Han, Y Yan, L Zhou, W Chen, P Zhou, X Chen, VAL Roy, Controlled assembly of silver nanoparticles monolayer on 3D polymer nanotubes and their applications, Small, 10(22), 4645-4650, 2014.
  9. W Chen, C Wang, L Yan, LB Huang, XY Zhu, B Chen, HJ Sant, XR Niu, G Zhu, KN Yu, VAL Roy, BK Gale, X Chen*, Improved polyvinylpyrrolidone microneedle arrays with non-stoichimetric cyclodextrin, Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 2, 1699-1705, 2014.
  10. L Yan, Y Wang, JH Li, S Kalytchuk, A Susha, SV Kershaw, F Yan, AL Rogach, X Chen*, Highly luminescent covalently bonded layered double hydroxide–fluorescent dye nanohybrids, Journal of Materials Chemistry C, 2, 4490-4494, 2014.
  11. B He, Y Yang, MF Yuen, X Chen, CS Lee, WJ Zhang, Vertical nanostructure arrays by plasma etching for applications in biology, energy and electronics, Nano Today, 8(3), 265-289, 2013.
  12. ML Crichton, X Chen, H Huang, MA Kendall, Elastic modulus and viscoelastic properties of full thickness skin characterized at micro scales, Biomaterials, 34(8), 2087-2097, 2013.
  13. AP Raphael, S Meliga, X Chen, GJ Fernando, et al., Depth-resolved characterization of diffusion properties within and across minimally-perturbed skin layers, Journal of Controlled Release, 166(2), 87-94, 2013.
  14. EYW Chong, CYP Ng, VWY Choi, Y Yang, WJ Zhang, KWK Yeung, X Chen*, KN Yu*, Diamond  nanocone array for improved osteoblastic differentiation, Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 1, 3390-3396, 2013.
  15. X Chen, GJ Fernando, AP Raphael, et al., Rapid kinetics to peak serum antibodies is achieved following influenza vaccination by dry-coated densely packed microprojections to skin, Journal of Controlled Release, 158(1), 78-84, 2012.
  16. GJ Fernando, X Chen, CA Primiero, SR Yukiko, et al., Nanopatch targeted delivery of both antigen and adjuvant to skin synergistically drives enhanced antibody responses, Journal of Controlled Release, 159(2), 215-221, 2012.
  17. TW Prow, N Monteiro-Riviere, AO Inman, JE Grice, X Chen, X Zhao, et al., Quantum dot penetration into viable human skin, Nanotoxicology, 6(2), 173-185, 2012.
  18. X Chen, HJ Corbett, SR Yukiko, et al., Site-selectively coated, densely-packed microprojection array patches for targeted delivery of vaccines to skin, Advanced Functional Materials, 21(3), 464-473, 2011.
  19. X Chen, GJ Fernando, ML Crichton, et al., Improving the reach of vaccines to low-resource regions, with a needle-free vaccine delivery device and long-term thermostabilization, Journal of Controlled Release, 152(3), 349-355, 2011. (Front Cover and Editor Cover Story)
  20. ML Crichton, BC Donose, X Chen, AP Raphael, et al., The viscoelastic, hyperelastic and scale dependent behaviour of freshly excised individual skin layers, Biomaterials, 32(20), 4670-4681, 2011.
  21. X Chen, AS Kask, ML Crichton, et al., Improved DNA vaccination by skin-targeted delivery using dry-coated densely-packed microprojection arrays, Journal of Controlled Release, 148(3), 327-333, 2010.
  22. TW Prow, X Chen, NA Prow, GJ Fernando, et al., Nanopatch-targeted skin vaccination against West Nile virus and Chikungunya virus in mice, Small, 6(6), 1776-1784, 2010. (Inside Front Cover)
  23. ML Crichton, A Ansaldo, X Chen, TW Prow, et al., The effect of strain rate on the precision of penetration of short densely-packed microprojection array patches coated with vaccine, Biomaterials, 31(16), 4562-4572, 2010.
  24. AP Raphael, TW Prow, ML Crichton, X Chen, GJ Fernando, MA Kendall, Targeted, Needle-free vaccinations in skin, using multilayered, densely-packed dissolving microprojection arrays, Small, 6(6), 1785-1793, 2010.
  25. AS Kask, X Chen, JO Marshak, L Dong, et al., DNA vaccine delivery by microprojections protects against vaginal HSV-2 challenge, Vaccine, 28(47), 7483-7491, 2010.
  26. X Chen, TW Prow, ML Crichton, et al., Dry-coated microprojection array patches for targeted delivery of immunotherapeutics to the skin, Journal of Controlled Release, 139(3), 212-220, 2009. (Front Cover and Editor Cover Story)

Granted patents in drug delivery

  • US patent 10022322, US patent 9220678, Canadian patent 2745339, European patent 2379160, US patent 8734697, US patent 9526884, US patent 9394547, US patent 9469808, US patent 9603795, Australian patent 2008341030, PRC patent CN103816611, PRC patent CN104178414


  • Advanced drug delivery systems
  • Antibacterial
  • Biodegradable nanomedicine
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical imaging
  • Biosensing
  • Cancer therapy and diagnosis
  • Nanomaterials and nanotechnology
  • Nanotoxicology

Further Information: 

We welcome outstanding PhD applicants to join our group to perform research in bioengineering, biomaterials, and the application of nanomaterials in biology, medicine, and healthcare. Except the research group funding, the following scholarships can be applied to support your study. These are just a few examples, rather than the full list. The School of Engineering also provides PhD scholarships for exceptional applicants.

Currently, we have an EPSRC/MRC CDT scholarship for urgent application (Project 2: Imaging tumour macrophage polarisation for non-invasive evaluation of anticancer therapy). The applicants must be UK citizens or EU citizens who have been living in the UK for a minimum of 3 years. The deadline is 26/07/2018.

Edinburgh Global Research Scholarship

These awards are designed to attract high quality overseas research students to the University of Edinburgh.


Principal's Career Development PhD Scholarships


China Scholarships Council/University of Edinburgh Scholarships (Citizens and permanent residents of the People's Republic of China)

Croucher Foundation Study awards (Permanent Hong Kong residents)

Postdoctoral researchers are welcome to join the group to perform research in bioengineering, biomaterials, and the application of nanomaterials in biology, medicine, environment and energy. Outstanding applicants can consider the following fellowship (just a few examples).

Newton International Fellowships

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowships

Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships