Department of Physics

Mathematics and Science Center, Room 190
146 Library Drive
Rochester, MI 48309
(location map)
(248) 370-3416
Fax: (248) 370-3408

Yang Xia

Headshot of Yang Xia

Yang Xia
Distinguished Professor of Physics
Fellow, the American Physical Society (APS)
Fellow, the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM)
Department of Physics, Oakland University
Ph.D. in Physics 1992, Massey University, New Zealand

Phone: (248) 370-3420
Office: 276 Hannah Hall
Research Website


2017 – present: Distinguished Professor – Dept of Physics, Oakland University
2005 – present: Professor (Tenured) – Dept of Physics, Oakland University
1999 – 2005: Associate Professor (Tenured) – Dept of Physics, Oakland University
1994 – 1999: Assistant Professor - Dept of Physics, Oakland University
1992 – 1994: Postdoctoral Associate – Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
1991 – 1992: Research Officer - Massey University, New Zealand


I have taught at OU a number of courses (both undergraduate and graduate levels, and both classroom courses and laboratory courses). I have given a large number of invited lectures at external universities and institutions, and conferences and workshops. I have served on a number of MSc and PhD dissertation committees, both at OU and external institutions. I have mentored a large number of research students in my lab (from high school students to candidates for PhD in Medical Physics). I firmly believe that teaching and research are integral parts of the high education mission in universities. Making contact between the textbook material and how those concepts are applied in the real world is an important component of my teaching philosophy.

Research Interests

My research interests lie in the quantitative imaging of complex systems at microscopic resolutions. At Oakland University since 1994, my major research effort is to study the degradation of articular cartilage, which is motivated by the critical role of cartilage degradation in the development of osteoarthritis (OA) and related joint diseases. My cartilage research at OU has been supported by a number of 5-year R01 grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) continuously since January 1999.

My research Lab is truly unique in high-resolution imaging, since we have five complementary microscopic imaging systems in our lab, with spatial resolutions ranging from a fraction of µm to tens of µm: 

  • microscopic MRI (µMRI)
  • polarized light microscopy (PLM)
  • Fourier-transform infrared imaging (FTIRI)
  • microscopic computer tomography (µCT)
  • In situ mechanical imaging system

Each of these instruments probes different aspects of the physical/chemical/biological properties in complex systems. We know each instrument thoroughly and have developed quantitative protocols on each system. We use a multi-modality spatially-resolved approach to emphasize the correlations among physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, biology, and medicine.

Another research interest stems from my dissertation study, the molecular dynamics in complex fluids by MRI at microscopic resolutions. I co-authored 12 journal papers during my graduate studies, including one paper in Nature (Nature 336 (6197), 399-402, 1988). Most significantly, we were the first to propose the concept of q space as the reciprocal space for molecular motion, and used the combined k space and q space in MRI measurement of molecular motion (J. Phys. E: Sci. Instrument, 21, 820-822, 1988). The concept of q space in my dissertation projects is the precursor of and mathematically/physically equivalent to Diffusion Tensor Imaging and Diffusion-weighted MRI. This link should lead you to my talk at a 2017 meeting on the History of Diffusion MRI, on how I/we made the q-space MRI working at the time.

Recent Publications

(see Research Website for the full list of publications and presentations)

Y Xia and K Momot, the Editors of a 24-chapter book titled “Biophysics and Biochemistry of Cartilage by NMR and MRI”, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry (Cambridge, UK) on Nov 16, 2016. (ISBN 978-1-78262-133-1; DOI 10.1039/9781782623663)

Y Xia, E Darling, W Herzog, "Functional Properties of Chondrocytes and Articular Cartilage using Optical Imaging to Scanning Probe Microscopy", Journal of Orthopaedic Research, 36 (2), 620-631 (2018). (an invited review)

N Wang, F Badar, Y Xia, “Compressed Sensing in Quantitative Determination of GAG Concentration in Cartilage by Microscopic MRI”, Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 79 (6), 3163-3171 (2018).

D Mittelstaedt, D Kahn, Y Xia, “Detection of early osteoarthritis in canine knee joints three weeks post ACL transection by microscopic MRI and biomechanical measurement”, Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery, 26 (2), 1–10 (2018).

R Mahar, S Batool, F Badar, Y Xia, “Quantitative Measurement of T2, T1r and T1 Relaxation Times in Articular Cartilage and Cartilage-Bone Interface by SE and UTE Imaging at Microscopic Resolution”, Journal of Magnetic Resonance, 297, 76-85 (2018).

N Wang, F Badar, Y Xia, “Experimental Influences in the Accurate Measurement of Cartilage Thickness in MRI”, Cartilage, 10 (3), 278-287 (2019).

G Furman, V Meerovich, V Sokolovsky, Y Xia, “Spin Locking in Liquid Entrapped in Nanocavities: Application to Study Connective Tissues”, Journal of Magnetic Resonance, 299, 66-73 (2019).

Other Selected Publications

P T Callaghan, C D Eccles, and Y Xia, “NMR microscopy of dynamic displacements: k-space and q-space imaging”, Journal of Physics E – Scientific Instruments, 21 (8), 820-822 (1988).

C F Jenner, Y Xia, C D Eccles and P T Callaghan, “Circulation of water within wheat grain revealed by nuclear magnetic resonance micro-imaging”, Nature, 336 (6197), 399-402 (1988).

Y Xia and P T Callaghan, “Study of Shear Thinning in High Polymer Solution Using Dynamic NMR Microscopy”, Macromolecules, 24 (17), 4777-4786 (1991).

Y Xia, "Relaxation Anisotropy in Cartilage by NMR Microscopy (µMRI) at 14 µm Resolution", Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 39 (6), 941-949 (1998).

Y Xia, J Moody, N Burton-Wurster, and G Lust, "Quantitative In Situ Correlation Between Microscopic MRI and Polarized Light Microscopy Studies of Articular Cartilage", Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 9 (5), 393-406 (2001).

H Alhadlaq, Y Xia, J B Moody, J Matyas, " Detecting structural changes in early experimental osteoarthritis of tibial cartilage by microscopic magnetic resonance imaging and polarised light microscopy ", Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, 63 (6), 709-717 (2004).

Y Xia, “Editorial: Resolution 'Scaling Law' in MRI of Articular Cartilage”, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 15 (4), 363-365 (2007).

Y Xia, SK Zheng, M Szarko, JH Lee, “Anisotropic Properties of Bovine Nasal Cartilage”, Microscopy Research and Technique, 75 (3), 300-306 (2012).