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Guoliang (Greg) Liu

Associate Professor
Guoliang Liu
3107 Hahn Hall South

Research Interests

"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.

  1. Zhen Xu, Gehui Liu, Ke Cao, Dong Guo, Joel Serrano, Alan Esker*, Guoliang Liu*, “Solvent-resistant Self-crosslinked Poly(ether imide)”, Macromolecules2021, 54, 7, 3405–3412. DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.0c02860.
  2. Assad U. Khan, Gabriel Zeltzer,* Gavriel Speyer, Zacary L. Croft, Yichen Guo, Yehiel Nagar, Vlada Artel, Adi Levi, Chen Stern, Doron Naveh,* Guoliang Liu,* “Mutually Reinforced Polymer-Graphene Bilayer Membranes for Energy-Efficient Acoustic Transduction”, Advanced Materials, 2021, 2004053. 
    DOI: 10.1002/adma.202004053.
  3. Dong Guo, Jocelyn Riet, Assad Khan, Yichen Guo, Zhen Xu, Tianyu Liu, Guoliang Liu*, “Mesoporous Polyetherimide Thin Films via Hydrolysis of Polylactide-b-Polyetherimide-b-Polylactide”, Polymer Chemistry2021, 12, 3939-3946. DOI: 10.1039/D1PY00601K.
  4. Tianyu Liu, Joel Marcos Serrano, Xiaozhou Yang, William Cathcart, Zixuan Wang, Zhen He, Guoliang Liu,* “Exceptional Capacitive Deionization Rate and Capacity by Block Copolymer-based Porous Carbon Fibers”, Science Advances, 2020, 6(4), eaaz0906. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz0906.
  5. Ke Cao, Joel Marcos Serrano, Tianyu Liu, Benjamin Stovall, Zhen Xu, Clay B. Arrington, Timothy E. Long, Roy R. Odle, Guoliang Liu,* “Impact of Metal Cations on the Thermal, Mechanical, and Rheological Properties of Sulfonated Polyetherimides”, Polymer Chemistry2020, 11, 393-400. DOI: 10.1039/C9PY00899C.
  6. Joel Marcos Serrano, Tianyu Liu, Assad U. Khan, Brandon Botset, Benjamin J. Stovall, Zhen Xu, Dong Guo, Ke Cao, Xi Hao, Shengfeng Cheng, Guoliang Liu,* “Composition Design of Block Copolymers for Porous Carbon Fibers”, Chemistry of Materials2019, 31, 21, 8898-8907. DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.9b02918.
  7. Ke Cao, Yichen Guo, Mingxuan Zhang, Clay B. Arrington, Timothy E. Long, Roy R. Olde, Guoliang Liu,* “Mechanically Strong, Thermally Stable, and Flame Retardant Poly(ether imide) Terminated with Phosphonium Bromide”, Macromolecules2019, 52(19), 7361-7368. DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.9b01465.
  8. Assad Khan, Yichen Guo, Xi Chen, Guoliang Liu,* “Spectral-selective plasmonic polymer nanocomposites across the visible and near-infrared”, ACS Nano, 2019, 13(4), 4255–4266. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.8b09386.
  9. Tianyu Liu, Zhengping Zhou, Yichen Guo, Dong Guo, Guoliang Liu,* “Block Copolymer Derived Uniform Mesopores Enable Ultrafast Electron and Ion Transport at High Mass Loadings”, Nature Communications, 2019, 10, 675. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08644-w.
  10. Zhengping Zhou, Tianyu Liu, Assad U. Khan, Guoliang Liu,* “Block Copolymer Based Hierarchical Porous Carbon Fibers”, Science Advances2019, 5(2), eaau6852. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau6852.
  • John C. Schug Research Award (2020)
  • Molecular Systems Design & Engineering – Emerging Investigator (2020)
  • ACS Applied Polymer Materials – Emerging Investigator (2020)
  • Polymer Chemistry – Emerging Investigator (2020)
  • Blackwood Junior Faculty Fellowship, 2019-
  • Journal of Materials Chemistry – Emerging Investigator (2019)
  • Macromolecular Rapid Communications – Young Talent (2018)
  • American Chemical Society (ACS) PMSE Young Investigator (2018)
  • American Chemical Society (ACS) PRF Doctoral New Investigator (DNI) Award (2018)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award (2018-2023)
  • Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Program (YIP) Award (2017-2020)
  • Virginia Tech Inventor of Month (July 2017)
  • 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