Nealey Group: Xiaoying Liu

Senior Research Scientist

Nealey Group

Start date:

November 2012


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    liuxy at


Nanoparticles (NPs) with interesting optical, electrical, chemical, and magnetic properties have shown great potential in a broad range of scientific fields and technological regimes, such as plasmonics, nanoelectronics, catalysis, and memory. The selective immobilization and organization of NPs with high degrees of specificity and control in pattern dimensions and densities is of significant importance in the translation to next-generation devices for technological applications. For example, the efficiency of solid-state single-photon emitters, the central topic in the growing field of quantum optics and quantum cryptography, is strongly dependent upon their electromagnetic environment, which can be engineered by precise placement of plasmonic nanostructures in its sub-wavelength proximity.

However, the efficient and precise positioning of multi-component NP assemblies still remains a major challenge. Bottom-up fabrication approaches based on spin-casting or AFM tip manipulation create hybrid structures with either poor reproducibility or low throughput. While top-down fabrication methods suffer from limitations in feature sizes, surface roughness control, or throughput. Another bottleneck in the translation to on-chip device implementation is the lack of spatial control of individual components on solid surfaces at macroscopic scale. Therefore, these two problems need to be addressed simultaneously to exploit multi-component hybrid nanostructures in practice.

Dr. Xiaoying Liu’s current research is to use chemically nanopatterned surfaces to fabricate large-scale arrays of NP hybrid structures with each component at well-defined position. The precise chemical contrast patterns with densities and resolution of features created over large areas using standard tools of lithography, polymer self-assembly, and surface functionalization allow for control of position and interparticle spacing through selective surface-particle interactions in combination with particle-particle interactions. Such interactions afford substantial flexibility to direct the particle organization process by engineering the surface functionalities of both substrates and NPs.


Xiaoying received her BS and MS degrees from Department of Chemistry at Fudan University, Shanghai, China. Her master’s thesis was focused on synthetic methodologies for mesoporous materials using block copolymers as structure-directing agents and semiconductor nanomaterials.

Xiaoying got her PhD in physical chemistry with Prof. Cynthia M. Friend from Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University in 2009. Her research at Harvard was focusing on establishing molecular-level knowledge of catalytic processes, the oxidative transformations of hydrocarbons and alcohols in particular, which is crucial for the optimization of reaction conditions and the design of environment-friendly and energy-efficient chemical processes.

Prior to joining IME in 2012, Xiaoying worked as a postdoctoral associate for three years with Prof. Klavs F. Jensen at Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT, where she developed continuous flow technologies for heterogeneous catalysis and multistep synthesis of amides in microfluidic systems.

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