Dr Nan Gao PhD

Dr Nan Gao

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Associate Professor

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Nan Gao is an Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Dr Gao’s research fields are primarily focused on wetting phenomena and anti-biofouling surfaces. His research covers both fundamental aspects and industrial applications. Dr Gao’s research outcomes have been in leading journals including Nature Physics, Science Advances, Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, etc.

Dr Gao is always open to enquiries to supervise PhD students or host visiting researchers.


  • PhD (Engineering) (Science), University of Nottingham, UK, 2012
  • Master’s Degree in Engineering, Jilin University, China, 2008
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, Jilin University, China, 2006


Dr Nan Gao obtained his PhD at the University of Nottingham, UK, where he began his research in wetting phenomena. Dr Gao continued his research career by joining Fudan University, Shanghai, as a postdoctoral research fellow to study functional materials.

Dr Gao gained an International Postdoctoral Fellowship to fund his move from Fudan University to the Max-Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany. He studied liquid-solid interfacial forces with Prof Butt, Prof Vollmer and Dr Berger at the Max-Planck Institute.

Dr Gao received an Endeavour Fellowship from the Australian Government in 2016 to join Prof Chiara Neto at the University of Sydney. He was a research associate at the University of South Australia before becoming a Lecturer at the University of Birmingham in 2019.

Postgraduate supervision

Supervision of research PhD students in topics covering wetting phenomena, bio-medical engineering, and functional surfaces. Applications are welcome and will be considered.


  • Wetting phenomena
  • Lateral adhesion at liquid-solid interfaces
  • Functional surfaces
  • Anti-biofouling materials


Selected journal publications

Gao N., Geyer, F., Pilat, D.W., Wooh, S., Vollmer, D., Butt, H.-J., Berger R. (2018) How drops start sliding over solid surfaces, Nature Physics 14, 191–196

Geyer, F., D’Acunzi, M., Sharifi-Aghili, A., Saal, A., Gao, N., Kaltbeitzel, A., Sloot, T.F., Berger, R., Butt, H.J. and Vollmer, D. (2020) When and how self-cleaning of superhydrophobic surfaces works. Science Advances, 6(3), p.eaaw9727.

Butt, H.-J., Gao, N., Papadopoulos, P., Steffen, W., Kappl, M., Berger, R. (2017) Energy Dissipation of Moving Drops on Superhydrophobic and Superoleophobic Surfaces, Langmuir 33 (1), 107-116.

Yan, Y.Y., Gao, N., Barthlott, W. (2011) Mimicking natural superhydrophobic surfaces and grasping the wetting process: A review on recent progress in preparing superhydrophobic surfaces, Advances in colloid and interface science 169 (2), 80-105.

Gao, N., Yan, Y.Y., Chen, X.Y., Mee, D.J. (2011) Superhydrophobic surfaces with hierarchical structure, Materials Letters 65 (19-20), 2902-2905.

Gao, N., Yan, Y. (2009) Modeling superhydrophobic contact angles and wetting transition, Journal of Bionic Engineering 6 (4), 335-340.

View all publications in research portal