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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Chen’s research is dedicated to the development of novel optical metamaterials and their applications in invisibility cloaking, imaging, information processing, light harvesting, biomedical sensing and nanofabrication. Metamaterials are man-made materials which have unusual electromagnetic properties that cannot be found in nature or their constituent components, thus providing more freedom to control electromagnetic waves. His research enables the discovery of new phenomena and the development of novel prototype devices, which might be essential for future technologies.

He has been involved in nanophotonics, plasmonics, metamaterials, surface plasmon resonance biosensors, nanodevice fabrication and optical measurement system for the characterization of plasmonic devices. His recent work includes the realization of dual-polarity plasmonic metalens in the visible range, broadband vortex beam generator, helicity dependent directional surface plasmon polariton excitation and 3D optical holography using a metasurface, and the development of a macroscopic invisibility cloak for visible light based on transformation optics.


Dr Xianzhong Chen is a lecturer in metamaterials at Heriot-Watt University. He received his PhD from the Institute of Optics & Electronics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2004 and worked there for two years. Prior to joining Heriot-Watt, he was a research fellow in Prof. Shuang Zhang’s group (2010-2013) and Prof. Kyle Jiang’s group (2007-2010) in the University of Birmingham (UB). He also worked as a visiting scholar (2005-2006) in the Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory (UB).

Dr Chen’s recent work includes the development of metadevices using plasmonic metasurfaces and surface plasmon resonance biosensor chips as well as the realization of macroscopic invisibility cloaking of visible light. He has published over 40 research papers in journals including Nature Communications, Nano Letters, Advanced Optical Materials, Optics Express and Nanotechnology. He obtained the Innovation Award for Young Researchers from the Institute of Optics & Electronics in 2005. His recent work has been selected as one of the "top 10 breakthroughs for 2010" by Physics World, "top 100 stories in 2011" by Discover Magazine, and received wide media coverage including BBC News, Telegraph, Channel 4, ITV, Guardian, Fox News, USA Today and MSNBC.  

Roles & Responsibilities

He is an editorial member of Journal of Biosensors & Bioelectronics and a member of American Nano Society (ANS). He also serves as a referee for ten journals including Scientific Reports, Optics Express, Applied Physics, Applied Optics, Nanotechnology and Sensors and Actuators B.

Press Profile


  • QC Physics
  • metamaterials
  • plasmonics
  • nanophotonics
  • surface plasmon resonance
  • biomedical sensing
  • Nanotechnology
  • nanofabrication

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Research Output 2011 2018

Editorial for the Theories and Applications of Metasurfaces

Guo, Z., Chen, X. & Zentgraf, T., 19 Mar 2018, In : Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics. 51, 15, 150201

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

Geometric Metasurfaces for Ultrathin Optical Devices

Wen, D., Yue, F., Liu, W., Chen, S. & Chen, X., 4 Sep 2018, In : Advanced Optical Materials. 6, 17, 1800348

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

systems integration
void ratio

High-resolution grayscale image hidden in a laser beam

Yue, F., Zhang, C., Zang, X., Wen, D., Gerardot, B. D., Zhang, S. & Chen, X., 26 Jan 2018, In : Light: Science and Applications. 7, 17129

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
laser beams
high resolution

Metasurface Approach to External Cloak and Designer Cavities

Liu, Y., Xu, J., Xiao, S., Chen, X. & Li, J., 16 May 2018, In : ACS Photonics. 5, 5, p. 1749-1754 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
standing waves

Multifunctional light sword metasurface lens

Zhang, Z., Wen, D., Zhang, C., Chen, M., Wang, W., Chen, S. & Chen, X., 16 May 2018, In : ACS Photonics. 5, 5, p. 1794-1799 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

systems integration
optical coupling