Brian T. Cunningham's directory photo.

Brian T. Cunningham


Primary Affiliation

Extracellular Vesicle Imaging and Therapy


Status Affiliate Faculty

Home Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Phone 265-6291



  • Biography

    Prof. Cunningham has been a faculty member in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the department Bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2004, following a 15-year career in Industry.  Prof. Cunningham’s technical focus is the utilization of photonics for biosensing in applications that include life science research, diagnostics, environmental monitoring, and pharmaceutical screening.  He has over 85 issued US patents and over 188 peer reviewed journal publications.  He is a Fellow of NAS, IEEE, OSA, RSC, AAAS, and AIMBE.


    • B.S., electrical and computer engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986

    • M.S., electrical and computer engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987

    • Ph.D., electrical and computer engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1990

  • Honors
    • 2021: Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence (College of Engineering, UIUC)

    • 2020: Fellow of RSC

    • 2020: George Anner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

    • 2020: Intel Alumni Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    • 2020: Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry

    • 2019: Associate, Center for Advanced Study

    • 2018: Andrew T. Yang Research Award

    • 2018: Associate, Center for Advanced Studies

    • 2018-2019: IEEE Photonics Society Distinguished Lecturer

    • 2016: Fellow of AAAS

    • 2014: National Academy of Inventors

    • 2014: IEEE EMBS Technical Achievement Award

    • 2013: IEEE Sensors Council 2013 Distinguished Lecturer

    • 2013: Fellow of OSA

    • 2010: Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising

    • 2010: Medical Scholars Program Outstanding Advisor Award

    • 2010: IEEE Sensors Council 2010 Technical Achievement Award

  • Research

    Research interests:

    • Sensor design and instrumentation

    • Finite Difference Time Domain Analysis

    • Nanofabrication

    • Photonic Crystals

    • Optical Biosensors

    My research group is focused on the application of sub-wavelength optical phenomena and fabrication methods to the development of novel devices and instrumentation for the life sciences. The group is highly interdisciplinary, with expertise in the areas of microfabrication, nanotechnology, computer simulation, instrumentation, molecular biology, and cell biology. In particular, we are working on biosensors based upon photonic crystal concepts that can either be built from low-cost flexible plastic materials, or integrated with semiconductor-based active devices, such as light sources and photodetectors, for high performance integrated detection systems.

  • 2017

    • H. Inan, M. Poyraz, F. Inci, M.A. Lifson, M. Baday, B.T. Cunningham, and U. Demirci, Photonic Crystals: Emerging biosensors for point-of-care applications. Chemical Society Reviews, Vol. 46, p. 366-388, 2017.
    • R.E. Scherr, K.D. Laugero, D.J. Graham, B.T. Cunningham, L. Jahns, K.R. Lora, M. Reicks, and A.R. Mobley, Innovative techniques for evaluating behavioral nutrition interventions. Advances in Nutrition, 8, 113-125, 2017.


    • G. See, M. Naughton, L. Xu, P.J.A. Kenis, and B.T. Cunningham, Enhanced emission of quantum dots embedded within the high-index dielectric regions of photonic crystal slabs. Applied Physics Letters, 2016, 108, 17, 171108-171110.
    • H. Yu, H. Le, E. Kaale, K.D. Long, T. Layoff, S.C. Lumetta, and B.T. Cunningham, Characterization of drug authenticity using thin layer chromatography imaging with a mobile phone. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, 125, 85-93, 2016.
    • H.-Y. Wu, L. Liu, M. Lu, and B.T. Cunningham, Lasing emission from plasmic nano-dome arrays. Advanced Optical Materials, 4, 5, 708-714, 2016.
    • L. Kwon, K.D. Long, Y. Wan, H. Yu, and B.T. Cunningham, Medical diagnostics with mobile devices: Comparison of intrinsic and extrinsic sensing. Biotechnology Advances, 34, 291-304, 2016.
    • Q. Huang, J. Peh, P.J. Hergenrother, and B.T. Cunningham, Porous photonic crystal external cavity laser biosensor. Applied Physics Letters, 109, 7, 071103-071105, 2016.
    • Y. Wan, J. Carlson, B. Kesler, W. Peng, P. Su, S. Al-Mulla, S.J. Lim, A. Smith, J. Dallesasse, and B.T. Cunningham, Compact characterization of liquid absorption and emission spectra using linear variable filters integrated with a CMOS imaging camera. Nature Scientific Reports, DOI:10.1038/srep29117, 2016.
    • Y. Zhuo, J.S. Choi, T. Marin, H. Yu, B.A. Harley, and B.T. Cunningham, Quantitative imaging of cell membrane-associated mass density using photonic crystal enhanced microscopy (PCEM). Progress in Quantum Electronics, 50, 1-18, 2016.


    • G.L. Damhorst, C. Duarte-Guevara, W. Chen, T. Ghonge, B.T. Cunningham, and R. Bashir, Smartphone-imaged HIV-1 reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) on a chip from whole blood. Engineering, 2015, 1, 3, 324-335. DOI:10.15302/J-ENG-2015072.
    • See, G. G.; Xu, L.; Naughton, M. S.; Tang, T. T.; Bonita, Y.; Joo, J.; Trefonas, P.; Deshpande, K.; Kenis, P. J. A.; Nuzzo, R. G.; Cunningham, B. T., Region Specific Enhancement of Quantum Dot Emission Using Interleaved Two-Dimensional Photonic Crystals. Applied Optics 2015, 54, (9), 2302-2308, DOI:10.1364/Ao.54.002302.


    • Hu, H.; Zhuo, Y.; Oruc, M. E.; Cunningham, B. T.; King, W. P., Nanofluidic Channels of Arbitrary Shapes Fabricated by Tip-Based Nanofabrication. Nanotechnology 2014, 25, (45), DOI:Artn 455301 DOI:10.1088/0957-4484/25/45/455301.
    • Zhuo, Y.; Hu, H.; Chen, W. L.; Lu, M.; Tian, L. M.; Yu, H. J.; Long, K. D.; Chow, E.; King, W. P.; Singamaneni, S.; Cunningham, B. T., Single Nanoparticle Detection Using Photonic Crystal Enhanced Microscopy. Analyst 2014, 139, (5), 1007-1015, DOI:10.1039/C3an02295a.


    • Kwon, B.; Seong, M.; Liu, J. N.; Rosenberger, M. R.; Schulmerich, M. V.; Bhargava, R.; Cunningham, B. T.; King, W. P., Large Infrared Absorptance of Bimaterial Microcantilevers Based on Silicon High Contrast Grating. Journal of Applied Physics 2013, 114, (15), DOI: 10.1063/1.4825313.


    • Chan, L. L.; George, S.; Ahmad, I.; Gosangari, S. L.; Abbasi, A.; Cunningham, B. T.; Watkin, K. L., Cytotoxicity Effects of Amoora Rohituka and Chittagonga on Breast and Pancreatic Cancer Cells. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011 (Article ID 860605), 8 pages.
    • Liu, J. N.; Schulmerich, M. V.; Bhargava, R.; Cunningham, B. T., Optimally Designed Narrowband Guided-Mode Resonance Reflectance Filters for Mid-Infrared Spectroscopy. Optics Express 2011, 19, (24), 24182-24197.