Tao Wei Wins Intellectual Property Excellence Award

Tao Wei
Associate Professor Tao Wei

By Neil Nachbar

Tao Wei, an associate professor in URI’s Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering, has been named this year’s winner of the URI Intellectual Property Excellence Award.

“The IP award recognizes the commercial value of my recent research,” Wei said. “It encourages me to keep pursuing research that will eventually lead to successful products that will broadly impact society.”

A native of Nanjing, China, who now lives in Kingston, Wei’s research focuses on developing cutting-edge sensor technologies that address critical needs and challenges in today’s complex engineering systems.

“Tao’s innovative research has made exceptional contributions to the field of sensors,” said Haibo He, chairman of the Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering. “I am very pleased to see that his work has been recognized by this prestigious award.”


Wei manages the NEXT Generation Sensing Technology Lab, in which URI students research ways to use sensing technology to improve the quality of life. Potential applications include self-driving cars, robotics, smart cities and wearable devices.

Issued Patent

Wei was issued a patent last year for “Digitally controlled chirped pulse laser for sub-terahertz range fiber structure interrogation.”

His novel research for this patent uses fiber optic cables to map variations in temperature and stress with high spatial resolution. This innovation will provide a nerving system for smart vehicles and robots at a small fraction of the cost of current state-of-the-art systems.

ONR Young Investigator Award

The Office of Naval Research awarded Wei a Young Investigator Award in 2017. The award funded Wei’s project, “Sub-Terahertz-Range-Interrogated Fiber-Optic Systems for Distributed Sensing Applications,” for up to $170,000 per year for three years, for a total of $510,000.

The electrical engineering professor was among 34 scientists selected for the award from more than 360 applicants. The award was based on past performance, technical merit, the potential for scientific breakthrough and long-term university commitment.