Advisory Board

Professor Jun Li

Jun Li, Ph.D. is Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Kansas State University and Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology. Jun is the coinventor of over 10 nanotechnology patents.
Jun’s research is in the interdisciplinary field of nanoscience and nanotechnology with an emphasis on the development of micro-/nano- devices for analytical, biomedical, and electronic applications. His research covers nanomaterials growth, device fabrication/characterization, and application development.
Nanomaterials Growth
His nanomaterials synthesis work is focused on preparing high-aspect ratio nanowires (NWs) to achieve many one-dimensional nanoscale materials properties. A big portion of the effort is on exploring new methods to grow nanowires deterministically on solid substrates with controlled diameter, length, and orientation (particularly in free-standing vertical orientation). The nanowire materials include carbon nanotubes (CNTs), carbon nanofibers (CNFs), semiconducting inorganic crystalline nanowires (s-NWs), and metallic nanowires (m-NWs).
The methods include thermal chemical vapor deposition (CVD), plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD), and electrochemical deposition. Besides tuning the processing conditions, each system will also be optimized with proper catalysts to enhance the selective growth of specific NW materials. Substrate engineering is another route to achieve the lattice match required for epitaxial growth of inorganic NWs. The combination of catalysis, surface modification, and processing optimization presents a very active ongoing research area for nanomaterials growth.
Device Fabrication/Characterization
To characterize and make use of the intrinsic properties of individual NWs, micro- and nanofabrication techniques have to be employed to make connections with NWs in well-defined configurations. This becomes exceedingly challenging due to the lack of methods to manipulate individual nanomaterials and the presence of fundamental interface problems at the nanoscale. The development of new integration methods becomes the critical pathway to such device applications.
Jun employs conventional solid-state micro-/nano- fabrication techniques including lithography, CVD/PVD, plasma and wet chemical etching, sputtering, and chemical mechanical polishing. In addition, nonconventional methods such as soft-lithography, imprinting, templating, electrochemical etching/deposition, and chemical functionalization are investigated for various applications.
A bottom-up process has been developed previously to fabricate massive arrays of vertically aligned NWs, which enables the study of individual NWs. The electronic, physical, and chemical properties and device performance are under study with four-probe I-V measurements, spectroscopy, electron microscopy, electrochemistry, and scanning probe microscopy. For biomaterials and biomedical devices, experiments involving molecular biochemistry, cell/tissue culture, and in-vivo animal experiments are carried in our lab or in collaboration with other partners.
Application Development
(1) Biosensors: Inlaid CNF nanoelectrode arrays are employed as electronic sensors. The exposed tip of CNFs is selectively functionalized with oligo- nucleotides, antibodies, or peptides for the development of electrochemical or impedance-based sensors to detect nucleic acids, antigens, and kinase activities. In another configuration, the inlaid nanoelectrode array is fabricated in a microfluidic channel as a highly effective dielectrophoresis device for bioparticle trapping and sensing. An integrated biochip for bacteria detection is under development in collaboration with industrial partners.
(2) Biomedical devices: Vertically aligned CNFs are used as a brush-like electrode to interface with tissues. A conductive polymer coated vertical CNF array is been explored as a multi-functional neural electrical interface to provide topographical, mechanical, chemical, and electrical support of neural network. Applications as other implantable biomedical devices requiring long-term stability are under investigation.
(3) Solid-state devices: Novel integration and fabrication methods are being developed for applications of CNTs, CNFs, and inorganic NWs as on-chip integrated circuit interconnects, thermal interface materials, and transistors. He is currently working on the further evaluation and optimization of both materials and processes.
(4) Energy sources: The large surface area of the 3D structure of vertically aligned CNFs is being studied for the development of supercapacitors and lithium ion storage. The semiconducting NW arrays with the similar configurations are being explored for solar cell and photodiodes, which may combine the advantages of high excitation efficiency and high conductivity.
Jun coauthored Preparation of Nucleic Acid Functionalized Carbon Nanotube Arrays, Carbon Nanotube Nanoelectrode Array for Ultrasensitive DNA Detection, Novel Three-Dimensional Electrodes: Electrochemical Properties of Carbon Nanotube Ensembles, Bottom-up approach for carbon nanotube interconnects, Electronic properties of multiwalled carbon nanotubes in an embedded vertical array, Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanofiber Arrays: An Advance toward Electrical-Neural Interfaces, and Inlaid Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotube Nanoelectrode Arrays for Electroanalysis.
Jun earned his B.A. in Chemistry at Wuhan University, China in 1987, his Ph.D. in Chemistry at Princeton University in 1995, and did his Postdoctoral Research at Cornell University from 1994 to 1997. He worked for Molecular Imaging Co. in scanning probe microscope development from 1997 to 1998, and at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore from 1998 to 2000. He was with the NASA Ames Research Center from September 2000 to July 2007, during which he led a group on nanobiotechnology research. He moved to the Chemistry Department of Kansas State University in July 2007 to take an associate professor position.
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