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Guoliang (Greg) Liu

Associate Professor
3107 Hahn Hall South

"Economical energy" has been listed as the number one challenge in the 14 Grand Challenges by the National Academy of Engineering. For several decades, researchers have made tremendous efforts toward finding a solution to this challenge, but no satisfactory answer has been reached. Admittedly, our knowledge of the materials that can potentially solve this challenge is ever growing, but the integration of these materials into practical applications has not yet met our requirements and is still far from our expectations. Organic polymers, composed of earth-abundant elements, are low-cost and easily-processible materials that can be manufactured into a wide range of macroscopic and microscopic structures. Inorganic nanoparticles, on the other hand, have tremendously rich optical, magnetic, catalytic, and plasmonic properties. Separately, neither has been utilized to the full potential for energy applications.

My group envisions that the two materials, if designed and engineered smartly, can be integrated together, resulting in unique collective emergent properties and impacting renewable energy and environmental science and technology at a tremendous level. The research in my laboratory is to integrate these two materials, bridge their respective properties, and find potential solutions to the grand challenge of energy. Specifically, we will design, synthesize, and utilize the two categories of materials (namely, polymers as structural matrices and inorganic nanoparticles as functional units) to create engineered nanocomposites and nanostructures for addressing challenges in the areas of energy, catalysis, and environmental science and engineering.

Specific projects in the group include:

(1) construct uniform nanoporous carbon fibers as electrodes of supercapacitors, batteries, and capacitive desalination devices, as well as an efficient support for precious metal catalysts; (2) build a novel class of plasmonic polymer nanocomposites that are catalytically active and plasmonically responsive to visible light; and (3) design and synthesize advanced high-performance polymers such as polyimides and polyetherimides.

  • B.S. Chemical Engineering, Zhejiang University, P. R. China, 2005 
  • Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Northwestern University, 2011-2014
  • ACS PMSE Young Investigator Award (2018)
  • NSF CAREER Award (2018)
  • ACS Petroleum Research Foundation (PRF) Doctoral New Researcher Award (2018)
  • Air Force Young Investigator Award (2017)
  • ICTAS Diversity and Inclusion Seed Grant Award (2016)
  • International Institute for Nanotechnology Outstanding Researcher Award (2013)
  • STEM Communication Fellowship (2013)
  • Student Inquiry and Research Advisor Certificate, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (2012)
  1. Ke Cao, Mingxuan Zhang, Guoliang Liu,* “The Effect of End Group and Molecular Weight on the Yellowness of Polyetherimide”, Macromolecular Rapid Communications, 2018, 1800045.
  2. Ke Cao, Guoliang Liu,* “Low-molecular-weight, high-mechanical-strength, and solution-processable telechelic polyetherimide end-capped with ureido-pyrimidinone", Macromolecules, 2017, 50 (5), 2016–2023.
  3. Assad U. Khan, Clayton Scruggs, David Hicks,‡ Guoliang Liu,* “Two-dimensional plasmonic nanoparticles as sensors to probe polymer brush formation”, Analytical Chemistry, 2017, 89 (14), 7541-7548.
  4. Assad U. Khan, Shuqi Zhao, Guoliang Liu,* “Key Parameter Controlling the Sensitivity of Plasmonic Metal Nanoparticles: Aspect Ratio.” J. Phys. Chem. C, 120 (34), 19353–19364 (2016).
  5. Peng-Cheng Chen, Guoliang Liu, Yu Zhou, Keith A. Brown, Natalia Chernyak, James L. Hedrick, Shu He, Zhuang Xie, Qing-Yuan Lin, Vinayak P. Dravid, Chad A. Mirkin,* “Tip-Directed Synthesis of Multi-Metallic Nanoparticles.” J. Am. Chem. Soc.,137 (28), 9167–9173 (2015).
  6. Zhichang Liu, Guoliang Liu, Yilei Wu, Dennis Cao, Junling Sun, Severin T. Schneebeli, Majed S. Nassar, Chad A. Mirkin, J. Fraser Stoddart,* “Assembly of Supramolecular Nanotubes from Molecular Triangles and 1,2-Dihalohydrocarbons.” J. Am. Chem. Soc., 136(47), 16651-16660 (2014).
  7. G. Liu, K. L. Young, X. Liao, M. L. Personick, C. A. Mirkin, "Anisotropic Nanoparticles as Shape-Directing Catalysts for the Chemical Etching of Silicon." J. Am. Chem. Soc., 135(33), 12196-12199 (2013).
  8. G. Liu, D. J. Eichelsdoerfer, B. Rasin, Y. Zhou, K. A. Brown, X. Liao, C. A. Mirkin, Delineating the Pathways for the Site-Directed Synthesis of Individual Nanoparticles on Surfaces." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 110(3), 887-891 (2013).