John Yeow

Associate Professor/Canada Research Chair in Micro/Nanodevices
University of Waterloo

John Yeow

Professor/University Research Chair
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


  • B.S., Ph.D., Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada
  • M.A.Sc., Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada
  • B.A.Sc., Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada

Work Focus:

John Yeow is a Professor and University Research Chair in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Yeow’s research is devoted to understanding, modelling, designing, integrating, and developing micro/nanodevices for medical and industrial applications.

Advice to Students:

“Volunteer at a research lab to get a feel of the field.”


  – University of Waterloo


Q: In which of the following technical fields within Nanotechnology does your work apply best?

  • Nanosensors and Nanoactuators
  • Nano-Materials
  • Nano-Metrology and Characterization
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Nanofabrication
  • Nano-Optics, Nano-Photonics, and Nano-Optoelectronics
  • Nano Energy, Environment, and Safety
  • Nanorobotics and Nanomanufacturing
  • Nano-Biomedicine
  • Nano-acoustic Devices, Processes, and Materials

Q: What current nanotechnology applications are you working on?  
Yeow: My group is working on developing miniaturized x-ray devices, as well as sensors for detecting radiation, gas and strain. In addition, we have been incorporating nanotechnology within a lab-on-a-chip for cell lysis and cell manipulation.     

Q: When did you first find that your career path focused on nanotechnology?
In 2004, when I was trying to develop highly sensitive sensors for radiation therapy applications.   

Q: What’s the most rewarding thing about working with nanotechnology?
Yeow: The most rewarding aspect is working closely with my graduate students to come up with innovative solutions to solve real-world problems.

Q: Is there an example you can provide that shows how something you’ve worked on has positively impacted the world?
 We have developed a nanotechnology-based field emission device that is able to provide highly uniform current generation over a long duration. This development enables us to create commercially viable miniaturized x-ray generators for a wide range of applications including nondestructive testing and medical imaging.    

Q: What do you think is the single greatest impact nanotechnology has had on the world thus far?  
Yeow: Nanotechnology has enabled a wide spectrum of research that provides new solutions to existing problems that cannot be easily solved by current technologies. It gives us hope that we may finally have found the answer, be it cancer diagnostics or therapeutics and beyond. 

Q: Please give an example of what you envision nanotechnology applications leading to in the future. 
Yeow: The impact of nanotechnology will be broad and deep. I believe the field of diagnostic and therapeutic medical instrumentation will be revolutionized by nanotechnology. In addition, our daily lives which revolve around comfort, convenience, and efficiency will be greatly enhanced by portable and low-power devices enable by nanotechnology.   

Q: Do you find yourself working more in a team situation, or more alone?
Yeow: I work within a team of engineers, physicists and physicians.    

Q: If you work more as a team, what are some of the other areas of expertise of your team members?   
Yeow: Physics, chemistry, medicine, and material science.

Q: Did your university training help you in your nanotechnology work?
 Yes, I am trained as an engineer. This training allows me to engineer nanotechnology into functioning devices.   

Q: Do you have a mentor?  Did you in your college years?
Yeow: Yes, I have senior colleagues in the field who guide me to contribute to my chosen field of research. Contributions extend beyond the boundaries of my research lab. It also includes education as well as serving on committees related to nanotechnology. 

Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you still focus on nanotechnology applications?
 Yes, without a doubt.  

Q: What advice do you have for pre-university students?
 Volunteer at a research lab to get a feel of the field.