Future Research Directions:
My research interests lie at the interfaces of nanomaterials, electrochemistry, and optics, in the big context of energy, environment, and health. My approach will be the combination of (i) understanding of fundamental materials problems featuring the use of advanced optical techniques, and (ii) engineering materials and solve the problems featuring the use of nanotechnologies. Topics of interests include high energy batteries, electrochemical water splitting, electrochemical CO2 reduction & sequestration, water desalination and air filtering. Bio-related sciences and technologies will be pursued in the long-term.
2015 Division of Inorganic Chemistry Young Investigator Award (American Chemical Society)
2014 Daniel Cubicciotti Award (The Electrochemical Society)
2014 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad (China Scholarship Council)
Postdoctoral Project: “Live imaging of lithium batteries using advanced optical techniques”.
Advisors: Steven Chu (Department of Physics) and Yi Cui (Department of Materials Science & Engineering), Stanford University
PhD Dissertation: “Structure design of silicon anodes for high energy lithium batteries”.
Advisor: Yi Cui, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Stanford University
My academic career path has been a blend of many fields of science and engineering. My PhD training was in nanomaterials and electrochemistry in the context of high energy lithium-ion batteries, during which I identified the fundamental materials problems, designed & fabricated new materials, and improved the performance. This powerful strategy can be extended to broader contexts and materials systems.
My postdoc training with Steven Chu added two new dimensions, optics and biology, to my research experience. Optical microscopy has been heavily used in biology but very little in materials science, mainly due to its lower resolution than electron microscopy. However, because of its ambient operation, low sample damage, and different contrast mechanism, optical microscopy is ideal for studying complex and delicate materials system under real time, real environment, without radiation damage. This tool becomes more powerful integrating recent advances such as superresolution microscopy, nonlinear optics, and single molecule techniques. Using optical techniques, I have made new discoveries on batteries and other electrochemical systems (two manuscripts in preparation). During postdoc, my eyes were also opened to biology, to see tremendous opportunities of using nanomaterials to solve problems in biotechnology and biomedicine.
Aside from my research career, I also have extensive experience teaching Stanford undergrads and graduates. From 2013 to 2015, I have been invited three consecutive years to give guest lectures in an introductory Stanford freshman class on nanoscience and nanotechnology. Even though my PhD is in Chemistry, I’ve guest-lectured and TAed (duties included making & grading problem sets, and holding office hours) two graduate-level classes at Stanford School of Engineering. One class was on nanotechnology, the other on batteries. In addition to lecture classes, I have TAed three undergrad lab classes in Stanford Department of Chemistry, which I received 4.6 points out of 5.0 in students’ evaluation. I have taken some Chemical Engineering core classes in undergrad and am willing to study and teach any existing classes, as well as design new classes. Lastly, I mentored graduate students in my group.
Selected Publications (50 journal articles in total. Citations: 3773. H-index 25):
(* Denotes equal contribution)
1. Liu, N.*; Lu, Z.*; Zhao, J.; McDowell, M.; Lee, H.; Zhao, W.; Cui, Y. A Pomegranate-Inspired Nanoscale Design for Large-Volume-Change Lithium Battery Anodes. Nature Nanotechnology (Cover article), 2014, 9, 187-192.
Featured in Nano Today, 2014, 9, 161.
2. Liu, N.*; Wu, H.*; McDowell, M. T.; Yao, Y.; Wang, C.; Cui, Y. A Yolk-shell Design for Stabilized and Scalable Li-ion Battery Alloy Anodes. Nano Letters 2012, 12, 3315–3321.
3. Liu, N.; Hu, L.; McDowell, M. T.; Jackson, A.; Cui, Y. Prelithiated Silicon Nanowires as an Anode for Lithium Ion Batteries. ACS Nano 2011, 5, 6487–6493.
4. Liu, N.; Huo, K.; McDowell, M.; Zhao, J.; Cui, Y. Rice Husks as a Sustainable Source of Nanostructured Silicon for High Performance Li-ion Battery Anodes. Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). 2013, 3, 1919.
5. Liu, N.; Yao, Y.; Cha, J.; McDowell, M.; Han, Y.; Cui, Y. Functionalization of Silicon Nanowire Surfaces with Metal-organic Frameworks. Nano Research 2012, 5, 109–116.
6. Lu, Z.*; Liu, N.*; Lee, H.-W.; Zhao, J.; Li, W.; Li, Y.; Cui, Y. Non-filling carbon coating of porous silicon micronsized particles for high performance lithium battery anodes. ACS Nano, 2015, 9, 2540–2547.
7. Misra, S.*; Liu, N.*; Nelson, J.; Hong, S. S.; Cui, Y.; Toney, M. F. In Situ X-ray Diffraction Studies of (De)lithiation Mechanism in Silicon Nanowire Anodes. ACS Nano 2012, 6, 5465–5473.
8. Zhu, B.*; Liu, N.*; McDowell, M. T.; Jin, Y.; Cui, Y.; Zhu, J. Interfacial Stabilizing Effect of ZnO on Si Anodes for Lithium Ion Battery. Nano Energy, 2015, 13, 620–625.
9. Hu, L.*; Liu, N.*; Eskilsson, M.*; Zheng, G.; McDonough, J.; Wågberg, L.; Cui, Y. Silicon-conductive Nanopaper for Li-ion Batteries. Nano Energy 2013, 2, 138–145
Invited Review Article:
Liu, N.; Li, W.; Pasta, M.; Cui, Y. Nanomaterials for Electrochemical Energy Storage (Featured as Cover Article). Frontiers of Physics. 2014, 9, 323–350.
Invited Book Chapter:
Liu, N.; Zheng, G.; Cui, Y. Nanocarbon hybrids with silicon, sulfur, or paper/textile for high-energy lithium ion batteries. Nanocarbons for Advanced Energy Storage. Wiley-VCH, 2015.
Cui, Y.; Liu, N.; Lu, Z.; Zhao, J. Large-volume-change lithium battery electrodes. US 14/506,345 (2014)
See more of this Group/Topical: Meet the Faculty Candidate Poster Session – Sponsored by the Education Division