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Mingzhao Liu

Staff Scientist | Materials Synthesis and Characterization


  • Electrochemistry/photoelectrochemistry
  • Solar water splitting
  • Chemical vapor deposition
  • Atomic layer deposition
  • Colloidal nanoparticle synthesis
  • Numerical simulation for nanophotonic/plasmonic structures

CFN Research Activities

Current research focuses photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting, also known as artificial photosynthesis, through which solar energy is captured and stored in the form of chemical fuel (H2). The goal is to find a photoelectrode material that utilizes solar radiation with high efficiency while enjoying decent chemical stability against the harsh PEC environment, through an integrated approach of material synthesis, photoelectrochemical studies, theoretical modeling, and advanced optical characterizations. A major research emphasis is the combinatorial synthesis of complex semiconductor metal oxide thin films/nanostructures for band gap engineering, using various techniques. The material screening is performed with photoelectrochemistry methods and coupled with ultrafast laser spectroscopy for a comprehensive understanding of the exciton dynamics and the interfacial charge transfer process. Other interests include the experimental/theoretical studies of nanophotonic/plasmonic nanostructures for improving light absorption in solar energy devices and applications in chemical/biochemical sensing. 


  • B.S.: Peking  University (Chemistry), 2002
  • PhD: The University of Chicago, 2007
    • James Franck Institute. Advisor:  Prof. Philippe Guyot-Sionnest.
    • Dissertation: Novel Nanostructured Thin Films for Solar Sequestration

Professional Appointments

  • Postdoctoral Fellow: Harvard University (2008-2011)
    • Department of Chemistry  and Chemical  Biology. Dr. Hongkun Park group.
    • Projects: Photocatalytic water splitting on cross-linked TiO2 nanowire photoanode; On-chip electro-optical generation of single surface plasmon polariton

Selected Publications & Research Highlights

M. Z. Liu, N. d. L. Snapp, H. Park, Water photolysis with a cross-linked titanium dioxide nanowire anode, Chem. Sci. 2, 80 (2011).         [Highlights in Chemical Science article]

M. Z. Liu, T.-W. Lee, S. K. Gray, P. Guyot-Sionnest, M. Pelton, Excitation of Dark Plasmons in Metal Nanoparticles by a Localized Emitter, Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 107401 (2009).

M. Pelton, J. E. Sader, J. Burgin, M. Z. Liu, P. Guyot-Sionnest, and D. Gosztola, Damping of acoustic vibrations in gold nanoparticles, Nature Nanotech 4, 492 (2009).

M. Z. Liu, M. Pelton, and P. Guyot-Sionnest, Reduced damping of surface plasmons at low temperatures, Phys. Rev. B 79, 035418 (2009).

M. Pelton, M. Z. Liu, H. Y. Kim, G. Smith, P. Guyot-Sionnest, and N. F. Scherer, Optical trapping and alignment of single gold nanorods by using plasmon resonances, Opt. Lett. 13, 2075 (2006).

M. Z. Liu and P. Guyot-Sionnest, Mechanism of Silver(I)-Assisted Growth of Gold Nanorods and Bipyramids, J. Phys. Chem. B 109, 22192 (2005).