Zhiyue Lu

Zhiyue Lu

Assistant Professor

   Caudill Laboratories 20
  Group Website
  Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Nonequilibrium thermodynamics, theoretical and computational statistical mechanics, molecular machines, chemical physics of living systems.

Research Synopsis

Living cells use highly complex, nonequilibrium and dynamic mechanisms to transduce energy, sense, process information, adapt, make decisions, and generate motion. These cellular functions are carried out very far from thermal equilibrium, and they are surprisingly robust against large environmental fluctuations. Due to the nonequilibrium nature and the complexity of these cellular processes, they cannot be described well by existing statistical physics theories. The Lu research group combines nonequilibrium thermodynamics theory and numerical simulation approaches to reveal the fundamental physical principles underlying these complex cellular functions. Furthermore, we apply these principles to designing smart artificial materials and biomimetic devices. The range of applications include self-healing materials, programmable biomedical nanorobots, and adaptive drug delivery system. Specific topics of our focus include temporal-responsive materials, cellular information processing, biochemical analog computers, kinetically enhanced molecular separation, and energy harvesting from nonequilibrium environments. Please feel free to contact me to suggest your brilliant ideas. We welcome applications from talented undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral scholars. We seek individuals from varied academic backgrounds, with interests in thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, biological physics, computational biology, and complex systems.

Professional Background

Postdoctoral Scholar – University of Chicago, 2016-2019; Ph.D. – University of Maryland at College Park, 2016; B.E. – Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Beijing, China, 2010

News & Publications

This theory provides a de-mechanized foundation for classical and nanothermodynamics and offers a framework for distilling emergence from large data, free from underlying details.


Decades after a Tanzanian teenager initiated study of the “Mpemba effect,” the effort to confirm or refute it is leading physicists toward new theories about how substances relax to equilibrium.