Yan graduated from Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) with a BEng degree in the School of Materials Science and Engineering in 2006. He shortly joined Professor Mingyu Li’s research group in HIT Shenzhen graduate school to work on electro-migration in lead-free solder joints for a MEng degree. He accepted a full scholarship from Loughborough University in 2008 to pursue his PhD on the topic of inkjet printing in printed electronics.
After obtaining his PhD, Yan commenced his full-time academic research career with Prof. Mike Adams and Prof. Zhibing Zhang (Micromanipulation and Microencapsulation Research Group) in collaboration with DSM Nutritional Products (Switzerland) to characterise composite vitamin A microparticles used for tableting and improve their shelf life. Following this one-year project, he moved on to the Centre for Materials and Structures in University of Liverpool to take up a KTP project in collaboration with an industrial partner to design and characterise metal powders for additive manufacturing. He re-joined University of Birmingham later to work on the microencapsulation of phase change materials for cryogenic energy storage with Dr. Yongliang Li (Birmingham Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage) and Prof. Zhibing Zhang.