Zhihai Li

Zhihai Li

Assistant Professor of Chemistry


Room:CP 409N

Research Assistant Professor, Temple University (2014)
Postdoctoral Associate, Arizona State University (2010)
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Bern, Switzerland (2009)
RWTH Aachen University, Ph.D. (2007)

Research Interests

Li Research Group

Nano-materials and devices (photovoltaic or solar cells), electrochemistry, electrochemical scanning probe microscopy (STM) and its applications in energy conversion, atomic force microscopy (AFM) lithography, molecular assembly and single-molecule electrical properties.

Preparation of semiconductor nanomaterials and applications in energy conversion

Semiconductors have demonstrated great capacity for applications in energy storage devices, solar light conversion, and water-splitting. Semiconductors utilized in these applications must hold appropriate physio-chemical properties including suitable band gap, proper mechanical and electrochemical resistance, and relatively stable excitation state among others. Promoting the desired properties could be achieved by structural doping of the materials with certain elements, substitution of rare and costly elements with less expensive ones, application of novel methods for tuning particle distribution, etc. In this project, a variety of semiconductor nanomaterials will be prepared and these materials will be applied to photovoltaic cells, energy storage, water splitting, and environmental remediation.

EC-STM study of the adsorption and molecular assembly of organic molecules at electrode-electrolyte interfaces

Adsorption and self-assembly of organic molecules on metal surfaces or at the metal-electrolyte interfaces is a fundamentally important topic because the study of the interactions between adsorbates (molecules) and metal substrates can provide valuable information to other chemical reactions and processes such as surface corrosion, asymmetric heterogeneous catalysis, electrochemical sensors, degradation of organic pollutants, surface-catalyzed reactions, and charge transfer in molecular devices. Self-assembly of molecules on substrates also provides a unique route to create supramolecular nanostructures. We have systematically studied the adsorption and assembly of a series of aromatic carboxylic acid on Au(111) surface to discover the key parameters that influence molecular patterns, surface coverage, unit cells.


(A) High-resolution EC-STM images of benzoic acid (BZA) molecules on Au(111) electrode. (B) Cyclic voltammogram (CV) of Au(111) in 0.1 M HClO4 and 12 mM BZA; (C) Cathodic scan of CVs of Au(111) in 0.1 M HClO4 with different concentration of BZA in solution; (D) Peak potential separation in (B) as a function of natural logarithmic BZA concentration (ln[BZA]).


Selected Publications

  1. Leasor, C.; Chen, K.; Goshinsky, K.; Li, Z.  Unique Two-Dimentional Multiple Phase Transition of Single-Anchored Aromatic Carboxylic Acids at Electrified Interfaces. J. Phys. Chem. C 2019124, 567-572. 
  2. Leasor, C.; Goshinsky, K.; Chen, K.; Li, Z. Probing Molecular Nanostructures of Aromatic Terephthalic Acids triggered by Intermolecular Hydrogen Bonds And Electrochemical Potential. Langmuir 201935, 13259 – 13267.
  3. Farsi, H.; Moghiminia, S.; Raygan, M.; Dana, E.; Hosseini, S.; Behforooz, M.; Zubkov, T.; Lightcap, I.; Li, Z. Nanostructured Tungstate-Derived Copper for Hydrogen Evolution Reaction and Electroreduction of CO2 in Sodium Hydroxide Solutions. J. Phys. Chem. C 2019, 123, 25941 - 25948.
  4. Leasor, C.; Chen, K.; Closson, T.; Li, Z. Revealing the Structural Complex of Adsorption and Assembly of Benzoic Acids at Electrode-Electrolyte Interfaces Using Electrochemical Scanning Tunneling Microscopy. J. Phys. Chem. C 2019, 123, 13600 – 13609.
  5. Farsi, H.; Moghiminia, S.; Raissi, H.; Riley, A.; Li, Z. The Effects of Electrolyte on the Capacitive Behavior of Nanostructured Molybdenum Oxides. J. Chem. Technol. Biotechnol. 2019, 94, 3800 - 3805. 
  6. Hosseini, S.; Alsiracey, N.; Riley, A.; Zubkov, T.; Closson, T.; Tye, J.; Bodappa, N.; Li, Z. Variable Growth of Monolayer Protected Gold Nanoclusters Based on Molar Ratio of Gold and Capping Ligands. Langmuir, 2018, 34, 15517 - 15525.
  7. Hosseini S.; Farsi, H.; Moghimnia, S.; Zubkov, T.; Lightcap, I.; Riley, A.; Peters, D.; Li, Z. Nickel Tungstate (NiWO4) Nanoparticles-Graphene Composites: Preparation and Photoelectrochemical Applications. Semicond. Sci.Technol. 2018, 33(5), 055008(1-12).
  8. Bui, M. N.; Johnson, M. B.; Viard, M.; Satterwhite, E.; Martins, A. N.; Li, Z.; Marriott, I.; Afonin, K. A.; Khisamutdinov, E. F. Versatile RNA tetra-U Helix Linking Motif as a Toolkit for Nucleic Acid Nanotechnology. Nanomedicine: NBM, 2017, 13, 1137-1146.
  9. Hosseini, S.; Madden, C.; Hihath, J.; Guo, S.; Zang, L.; Li, Z. Single-Molecule Charge Transport and Electrochemical Gating in Redox-Active Perylene Diimide Junctions. J. Phys. Chem. C 2016, 120, 22646-22654.
  10. Afsari, S.; Li, Z.; Borguet, E. Amine Directed Hydrogen Bonded Two-Dimensional Supramolecular Structures. ChemPhysChem. 2016, 17, 3385-3389.
  11. Li, Z.; Smeu, M., Arnaud Rives, Maraval, V.; Chauvin, R.; Ratner, M. A.; Borguet, E. Towards Graphyne Molecular Electronics. Nat. Commun. 2015, 6:6321, doi:10.1038/ncomms7321
  12. Li, Z.; Smeu, M.; Park, T-H, Rawson, J.; Xing, Y.; Therien, M.; Ratner, M. A.; Borguet, E. Hapticity-Dependent Charge Transport through Carbodithioate-Terminated [5, 15- Bis (phenylethynyl) porphinato] Zinc (II) Complexes in Metal-Molecule-Metal. Nano Lett. 2014, 14, 5493-5499.
  13. Afsari, S.; Li, Z.; Borguet, E. Orientation-Controlled Single Molecule Junctions. Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 9771-9774.
  14. Li, Z.; Li, H; Chen, S.; Froehlich, T.; Schoenenberger, C.; Calame, M.; Decurtins, S.; Liu, S. X.; Borguet, E. Regulating a Benzodifuran Single Molecule Redox Switch via Electrochemical Gating and Optimization of Molecule/Electrode Coupling. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 8867-8870.
  15. Li, Z.; Smeu, M.; Afsari, S.; Xing, Y.; Ratner, M. A.; Borguet, E. Single Molecule Sensing of Environmental pH – An STM Break Junction and NEGF-DFT Approach. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 1098-1102.
  16. Li, Z.; Smeu, M.; Ratner, M. A.; Borguet, E. Effect of Anchoring Groups on Single Molecule Charge Transport through Porphyrins. J. Phys. Chem. C 2013, 117, 14890-14898.
  17. Li, Z.; Borguet, E. Determining Charge Transfer Pathways through Single Porphyrin Molecules Using STM Break Junctions. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 63-66.
  18. Li, Z.; Park, T-H.; Rawson, J.; Therien, M. J.; Borguet, E. Quasi-Ohmic Single Molecule Charge Transport through Highly Conjugated meso-to-meso Ethyne-Bridged Porphyrin Wires. Nano Lett. 2012, 12, 2722-2727.
  19. Diez-Perez, I, Li, Z.; Guo, S.; Madden, C.; Huang, H.; Che, Y.; Yang, X.; Zang, L.; Tao, N.J. Ambipolar Transport in an Electrochemically Gated Single-Molecule Field-Effect Transistor. ACS Nano 2012, 6, 7044-7052.
  20. Diez-Perez, I.; Li, Z.; Li, J.; Zhang, C.; Yang, X.; Zang, L.; Dai, Y.; Feng, X.; Muellen, K.; Tao, N.J. Gate-controlled Electron Transport in Coronenes As A Bottom-up Approach Towards Graphene Transistors. Nat. Commun. 2010, doi: 10.1038/ncomms1029.
  21. Li, Z.; Liu, Y.; Mertens, S.; Pobelov, I.; Wandlowski, Th. From Redox Gating to Quantized Charging. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 8187-8193

Course Schedule
Course No. Section Times Days Location
Advanced Analytical 626 1 1600 - 1715 M F CP, room 253
Advanced Topics in C 675 1 0000 - 0000
Dissertation Prepara 701 305 0000 - 0000