Wei Lu named James R. Mellor Professor of Engineering

Lu is internationally renowned for his pioneering efforts in the development and commercialization of novel electrical devices, specifically memristors for memory and logic applications.
Wei Lu, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Wei Lu, an internationally recognized leader in the development of memristors for memory and logic applications, has been named the James R. Mellor Professor of Engineering, effective January 1, 2024. 

Lu’s group developed many of the first concepts related to memory systems, in-memory computing architectures, and neuromorphic computing architectures. He has also developed nanowire transistors suitable for flexible electronics and optoelectronics, and he conducts research regarding other emerging electrical devices.

The memristor array chip plugs into the custom computer chip, forming the first programmable memristor computer. The team demonstrated that it could run three standard types of machine learning algorithms. Photo: Robert Coelius, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing
Lu led the development of the first programmable memristor computer—not just a memristor array operated through an external computer—that could lead to AI processing directly on small, energy-constrained devices such as smartphones and sensors. Photo: Robert Coelius, Michigan Engineering

Lu’s more recent research has demonstrated efficient image analysis using his novel circuits, as well as methods to perform general, data-intensive computing based on this new hardware system. This work is applicable to fields such as pervasive sensing, Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles and other Big Data tasks, and has attracted interest from conventional semiconductor companies, oil and gas companies, and defense contractors.

In 2010, after developing a new resistive random-access memory (RRAM) device with his research group, Lu co-founded Crossbar, Inc., a semiconductor company based in Silicon Valley that has secured more than $120M in venture capital funding to-date. Crossbar offers products in high-density and fast memory technologies as well as secure storage devices – thanks in large part to Lu’s contributions to the technology. 

In the same year that Crossbar was founded, Lu was the first to demonstrate that solid-state two-terminal memristor devices can implement biological learning rules and lead to efficient, biologically-inspired neuromorphic computing systems. This work attracted international attention, and led to the foundation of several major government programs that aim to build artificial neural networks based on these emerging devices.

In 2019, Lu co-founded MemryX Inc, a semiconductor chip company that’s developing a fundamental core architecture for Edge AI with high flexibility and reconfigurability through an innovative in-memory computing architecture. MemryX has secured $34M in venture capital funding to date and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI. MemryX’s first production AI accelerator chip is scheduled to ship in early 2024.

MemryX team
Early members of the MemryX team (left to right): Prof. Zhengya Zhang, Prof. Wei Lu, Tim Wesley (Principal Engineer, MS ECE 2019), Fan-hsuan Meng (Principal Engineer, ECE doctoral student), Jacob Botimer (Principal Engineer, ECE doctoral student), Dr. Chester Liu (Sr. Director of Engineering, PhD ECE 2021), Dr. Mohammed Zidan (Sr. Director of Architecture Engineering)

Lu has published over 200 journal and conference articles with 39,000 citations and an H-index of 90 (per Google Scholar), including eight publications with over 1000 citations each. He has graduated 24 PhD students and advised nine post-doctoral researchers, many of whom have become leaders in academia and industry.

He earned his BS in Physics in 1996 from Tsinghua University, China, and his PhD in Physics in 2003 from Rice University, Houston, TX. Following a post-doctoral research fellowship with Harvard University, Lu joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 2005 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor, with tenure, in 2011, and to Professor in 2016.

DUI 2022
Wei Lu is celebrated as the Distinguished University Innovator at U-M’s Celebrate Invention in 2022. L-R: Joohee Kim, Assoc. Director of Licensing, Physical Sciences & Engineering; Wei Lu; Kelly Sexton, Assoc. VP for Research and Innovation Partnerships; Rebecca Cunningham, VP for Research; Santa J. Ono, President, University of Michigan

Lu is a recipient of the Distinguished University Innovator Award (2022), the Ted Kennedy Family Faculty Team Excellence Award (2022), the David E. Liddle Research Excellence Award (2017), the Rexford E. Hall Innovation Excellence Award (2015), an EECS Outstanding Achievement Award (2013), and an NSF CAREER award (2010). He was elected IEEE Fellow in 2018.

Lu will present a lecture this coming March 27, 2024, 3-5pm in the Lurie Engineering Center Johnson Rooms.