Xiaoyu “Rayne” Zheng, assistant professor of civil, environmental, mechanical and aerospace engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the foundation’s highest honor for faculty members in the early stages of their teaching and research careers.

The award includes a five-year, $525,000 grant to support Zheng’s research developing new rapid 3D printing processes that incorporate multiple materials, such as metals, plastics and ceramics into complex microstructures with multiple functions. His integrated research, teaching and outreach program aims to train the next generation of scientists and engineers on how to address global challenges through advanced manufacturing.

The research will lay out foundational knowledge underpinning the new manufacturing process. The advance could help create multimaterial components for robots that contain integrated active, electronic and structural materials. In addition to robotics, the technology could also apply to the energy, health care, electronics, aerospace and automotive industries.

Zheng, who holds an appointment in the California NanoSystems Institute, leads UCLA’s Additive Manufacturing and Metamaterials Laboratory. His research group develops additive manufacturing — technologies that grow 3D objects one superfine layer at a time. In addition, his research focuses on using material synthesis to create multifunctional materials and systems with controlled microarchitectures and encoded properties.

Zheng has received the Young Faculty Award from the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Air Force Young Investigator Award, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, the 3M Faculty Award and the Freeform Additive Manufacturing Excellence Award.