Peng was born in Yingtan, Jiangxi, in September 1962, while his ancestral home in Pingjiang County, Hunan. He received his B.S. in Physical Electronics and master’s degree from Peking University in 1982 and 1983, respectively. Then he enrolled at Arizona State University where he received his Ph.D in Physics under the direction of J.M. Cowley in 1988. He carried out postdoctoral research at the University of Oslo (1988–1989) and University of Oxford (1989–1990).
In 1990 he was a Research Fellow at the Violette and Samuel Glasstone of the University of Oxford, he remained there until 1995. In 1995 he became a senior research scientist at the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, he served for a total of 7 years. He joined the faculty of Peking University in April 1999, becoming the Yangzi Professor of Nanoscale Science and Technology in 1999, Director of the Key Laboratory for the Physics and Chemistry of Nanodevices in 2004, Head of the Department of Electronics in 2007, and Director of the Centre for Carbon-based Nanoelectronics in 2015. In August 2018 he was hired as Dean of the newly founded Hunan Institute of Advanced Sensing and Information Technology Innovation, Xiangtan University.
Peng led the team to develop a high-performance 5 nm (nanometer) gate length carbon nanotubeCMOS device, which can work at three times the speed of Intel‘s most advanced 14 nm commercial silicon transistors, but the energy consumption is only 1/4 of that.