Chris Xu

IBM Professor of Engineering
Director of the School of Applied and Engineering Physics
Applied and Engineering Physics


Chris Xu is the IBM Professor of Engineering, and Professor in Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, the Mong Family Foundation Director of Cornell Neurotech – Engineering, the director of Cornell NeuroNex Hub, an NSF funded center for developing neurotechnology, and Director of the School of Applied and Engineering Physics. His current research areas are fiber optics and biomedical imaging, with major thrusts in multiphoton microscopy for deep brain imaging, multiphoton microendoscopy for clinical applications, and fiber-based devices and systems for telecommunications and optical imaging. His research is supported by major grants from NIH, NSF, DARPA, and IARPA. Prior to Cornell, he was a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories. His main research focus at Bell Labs was on nonlinear imaging of semiconductor devices, fiber optics, and optical communications, including broadband access and ultralong haul transmission. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics, Cornell University, and his B.S. in Physics from Fudan University. He served as the Director of Graduate Studies in Applied Physics from 2007-2013, and the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the School of Applied and Engineering Physics from 2014 to 2016.

Dr. Xu has chaired or served on many conference organization committees and NSF/NIH review panels. He currently serves on the NIH NEI External Scientific Oversight Committee of the Audacious Goal Initiative and the OSA Biomedical Congress Strategic Planning Committee. He served as Associate Editor for Biomedical Optics Express, and is on the editorial boards of several journals. He has published 8 book chapters and ~ 300 journal and conference papers. Dr. Xu has delivered numerous (>260) plenary/keynote/invited conference presentations, research seminars, and outreach talks. He holds 24 patents on optical communications and imaging. He has won the NSF CAREER award, Bell Labs team research award, and the Tau Beta Pi and two other teaching awards from Cornell Engineering College. He received Cornell Engineering Research Excellence Award in 2017. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and a fellow of the Optical Society of America.

Research Interests

Our research has two main thrusts: biomedical imaging and fiber optics. We are exploring new concepts and techniques for in vivo imaging deep into scattering biological specimens, such as mouse brain. We are developing new medical endoscopes for non-invasive real-time diagnostics of tissues without any exogenous contrast agent. We are developing novel optical fibers and fiber-based devices for biomedical imaging and optical communications.

Teaching Interests

Biomedical imaging and fiber optics.

Selected Publications

  • Wang, Tianyu; Ouzounov, Dimitre G; Horton, Nicholas G; Zhang, Bin; Wu, Cheng-Hsun; Zhang, Yanping; Schnitzer, Mark J; Xu, C; “Three-Photon Imaging of Structure and Neural Activities through Intact Mouse Skull”, Nature Methods, 15, 789–792, (2018).
  • D. G. Ouzounov, T. Wang, M. Wang, D. Feng, N. G. Horton, J. C. Cruz Hernández, Y. Cheng, J. Reimer, A. Tolias, N. Nishimura, and C. Xu “In Vivo Three-Photon Imaging of Activity of GCaMP6-labeled Neurons Deep in Intact Mouse Brain”, Nature Methods, 14, 388–390, (2017).
  • Xu, Chris, Frank W Wise.  2013. “Recent advances in fiber lasers for nonlinear microscopy.”  Nature Photonics 7: 875-882.
  • Horton, N. G., K. Wang, D. Kobat, C. Clark, F. Wise, C. Schaffer, Chris Xu.  2013. “In vivo three-photon microscopy of subcortical structures of an intact mouse brain.”  Nature Photonics 7: 205-209.
  • Howard, S., A. Straub, N. Horton, D. Kobat, Chris Xu.  2013. “Frequency-multiplexed in vivo multiphoton phosphorescence lifetime microscopy.”  Nature Photonics 7: 33-37.
  • Rivera, D. R., C. M. Brown, D. G. Ouzounov, I. Pavlova, D. Kobat, W. W. Webb, Chris Xu.  2011. “Compact and flexible raster scanning multiphoton endoscope capable of imaging unstained tissue.”  Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 108 (43): 17598-17603.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • IBM Professor of Engineering
  • Cornell Engineering Research Excellence Award 2017
  • Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors 2014
  • Fellow of the Optical Society of America (Optical Society of America) 2010
  • Excellence in Teaching Award (Cornell University – College of Engineering) 2008
  • NSF CAREER Award (National Science Foundation) 2006
  • Excellence in Teaching Award (Cornell University – College of Engineering) 2005