Research

The Liu research group is interested in the synthesis and characterization of new classes of low-dimensional nanomaterials and their applications in chemical and biological sensors, bioelectronic devices and nanoelectronics. Our research thrusts include the fundamental innovation of plasmonic nanostructures, 2D materials, and organic/inorganic multifunctional materials as well as the practical device in the biomedical research and future electronics.

Low-dimensional nanomaterials

In this thrust, our research interests were aroused in putting emphasis toward the synthesis and assembly of plasmonic nanostructures and the growth of highly-crystalline and large-area 2D materials.  Materials properties of plasmonic nanostructures have a strong dependence on their size, shape, structure, composition and surface functionality.  By producing plasmonic nanostructures with well-controlled properties, we aim to develop novel techniques for the controlled synthesis and self-assembly of plasmonic nanostructures. In the research field in 2D materials, we aim to develop a synthetic method for the growth of large-area and highly crystalline 2D material with excellent behaviors. Controlled synthesis and the self-assembly of nanostructures that systematically vary in size, shape, structure, surface functionality, and thickness are investigated for the sensing and biomedical applications as well as the novel electronic and photonic devices.

Chemical and Biological Sensors

In this thrust, our research interests include the development of novel sensing techniques using plasmonic nanostructures and/or 2D materials that enable a novel class of chemical and biological sensors with highly sensitivity, specificity, and stability.  We have demonstrated Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS), Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance (LSPR), and electrical sensors for chemical and biological sensing.  We aim to tailor the materials properties as well as the device design to achieve the ultimate goal for practical applications in point-of-care and resource limited settings. Precise quantification of ultralow level of nucleic acid is of critical value in both clinical and research setting.  The prominent rise of liquid biopsy detection methods enables the early disease detection, further emphasizes the need for non-/minimally-invasive, sensitive, highly selective, and inexpensive biosensing platform.  We also aim to explore novel functional materials as well as plasmonic nanomaterial/2D material hybrid nanostructures as a high efficiency platform for ultrasensitive and multiplex detection of disease biomarkers.