Haitao Liu

2010 Regional Award Winner — Post-Doc

Haitao Liu

Current Position:
Assistant Professor of Chemistry

University of Pittsburgh (Previously at Columbia University)

Inorganic & Solid-State Chemistry

Recognized for: Reaction chemistry of nanomaterials.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Graphene, DNA-templated nanofabrication, colloidal nanocrystals  


  • PhD, Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, 2007
  • BS, Chemistry, University of Science and Technology of China, 2001

Research in the Liu group is focused on the physical and synthetic chemistries of nanomaterials, broadly defined. Current emphasis is DNA, graphene, and colloidal nanocrystals.

DNA-templated nanofabrication. By designing the base sequence, a long strand of DNA can be folded into almost any arbitrary shapes. These DNA nanostructures are ideal templates for bottom-up nanofabrication. We explore the catalytic activity of these DNA nanostructures for the etching and deposition of inorganic materials. The long term goal is to use these DNA nanostructures as nanoscale masks for patterning at the sub-10 nm resolution.

Reaction chemistry of graphene. Graphene, a single layer of graphite, has attracted a lot of attention recently due to its superior electronic and mechanical properties. We are interested in understanding the surface properties of graphene and how these properties could be changed by environments.

Synthesis of colloidal nanocrystals. Colloidal inorganic nanocrystals have found applications in a broad range of fields, including fluorescence labeling, solar cells, and electronics. Traditionally, the syntheses of these materials are exclusively based on the trial-and-error approach. The chemistry of these syntheses is understood mostly at the phenomenological level. We study the colloidal nanocrystal synthesis using the classical physical organic chemistry techniques. Of particular interests are the mechanisms of precursor-to-nanocrystal transformation and growth of inorganic nanocrystals. The long term goal is to synthesize multi-component, shape controlled nanostructures by design.

Key Publications:

  1. Garcia-Rodriguez R, Liu H. Mechanistic insights into the role of alkylamine in the synthesis of CdSe nanocrystals. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014
  2. Surwade S, Zhou F, Wei B, Sun W, Powell A,  O'Donnell C, Yin P, Liu H. Nanoscale Growth and Patterning of Inorganic Oxides Using DNA Nanostructure Templates. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013
  3. Li Z, Wang Y, Kozbial A,  Shenoy G, Zhou F, McGinley R, Ireland P,  Morganstein B,  Kunkel A, Surwade S,  Li L,  Liu H. Effect of Airborne Contaminants on the Wettability of Supported Graphene and Graphite. Nature Mater, 2013
  4. Surwade SP, Zhao S, Liu H. Molecular lithography through DNA-mediated etching and masking of SiOJ. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011

Other Honors:

2013 AFOSR Young Investigator
2009 R&D 100 Award

In the Media:

New Research Shows Graphite is Hydrophilic 
DNA lithography