Lijia Liu


Contact Information

Title: Assistant Professor
Office: ChB 1A
Lab: ChB 1-3
Phone (Office): ext 84456

Physical & Analytical Teaching Division

Materials: Design, Function and Characterization

Luminescent nanomaterials, Synchrotron X-ray spectroscopy

Group Website


B.Sc. University of Science and Technology of China
Ph.D. Western University


My research group develops light-emitting inorganic nanomaterials and explores their applications in bioimaging, sensing, optoelectronics and optical information storage. We use modern spectroscopy techniques, such as steady-state photoluminescence, time-resolved photoluminescence, X-ray absorption spectroscopy to analyze the luminescence mechanism of the materials. The information obtained provides a guideline toward designing new synthesis strategies in order to precisely control the luminescence property of the material and ultimately achieve performance enhancement in practical applications. Synchrotron-based spectroscopy is another major tool which will be regularly utilized to gain in-depth information on the correlation between the observed luminescence and the electronic structure of the material. We also work on developing new synchrotron radiation-based spectroscopy techniques for their use in material analysis. Techniques based on X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) and X-ray excited optical luminescence (XEOL) will be advanced in both time-domain (i.e., in situ study) and space domain (i.e., nanoscale imaging).

Current ongoing projects are:

  1. Persistent luminescent nanophosphors
    Persistent luminescence (PersL) is a unique optical property where a material exhibits long-lasting luminescence after the stoppage of the excitation source. Nanoparticles with PersL at wavelengths in the near-infrared (NIR) region is of particular interest since the NIR light allows for deep penetration and minimal absorption through tissue media. The current research focuses on composition tuning to cover a broader range in the NIR region, and nanoparticle surface functionalization to achieve target-specific binding.

  2. Calcium hydroxyapatite-based luminescent composite
    Calcium phosphates (CaP) are biomaterials that chemically resemble the main constituent of bones and teeth. There are many metastable phases of CaP with different stoichiometries and elemental compositions. Due to its high biocompatibility, CaP nanospheres have been used as drug carriers. Ongoing research along this direction is to incorporate luminescent nanoparticles as optical markers to track the drug delivery process. We are developing strategies to form CaP-PersL nanoparticle composite and testing their drug release kinetics. Fundamental studies are also carried out to investigate the energy transfer mechanism across the interface of the two species, and

  3. Collaborative projects
    We are collaborating with several research groups who are specialising in material synthesis. We use these materials as test candidates to develop novel in situ, in operando spectroscopy/microscopy techniques at the Canadian Light Source, the synchrotron research facility located at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.


  • 2210 Environmental Chemistry
  • 3372 Instrumental Analytical Chemistry
  • 9546 Optical Spectroscopy of Solid-State Materials
  • 9547 Surface Chemistry of Nanoparticles