• Development of novel hybrid imaging and sensing system for biological applications. We aim at developing a hybrid imaging and sensing system that combines the strength of various analytical techniques including scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM), scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM), atomic force microscope (AFM) and surface plasmon resonance microscopy (SPRM). A few research interests are: 

    • Parkinson's disease: monitoring the real-time alpha-synuclein (αS) aggregates induced membrane disruption and pore formation at living cells for understanding the mechanism in Parkinson’s disease.  Parkinson's disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, affecting one million people in the U.S. The cause is unknown, and there is presently no cure. Pathologically, PD involves progressive dysfunction and death of neuronal cells in a small brain region producing dopamine (an essential neurotransmitter), and the decreased production of dopamine leaves a person unable to control movement normally. Research has shown that the PD progression is highly related to the abnormal aggregation of alpha-synuclein (αS), an abundant brain protein near presynaptic termini, and the presence of aggregates in intracellular protein inclusions. Understanding how αS and its aggregates affect the neuronal cells is critical to finding cures to PD. As the first step, we will study the interaction between αS and cell membrane. 

    • Bacterial: monitoring in real time the fusion of antibacterial liposomes and bacteria and acute bacterial damage. This is an ongoing collaborative project with Dr. Edith Porter from Department of Biological Sciences. 

Imaging system

  • Micro-/nano-pipettes based sensing for biological applications. A simple setup utilizing ionic current passing through a glass micro-/nano-pipette can be applied to study size and surface charge of small features such as nanoparticles and biomolecules. 


  • Application of electrochemical-surface plasmon resonance to fundamental electrochemical studies. Both electrochemical and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) techniques measure various processes taking place at or near an electrode surface. Combining the two techniques allows one to obtain new insight into these interfacial processes. Examples include redox-induced conformational changes in surface-bound protein molecules, deposition of metal onto a surface and reorganization of organic thin films upon redox reactions. We work on combining the strengths of each methods and developing new detection protocols. 


  • Structural and morphological effects of gold nanocatalysts on electrocatalytic reactions. We aim at delineating the relationship between the elctrocatalytic performance of nanocatalysts and their structures by using a variety of analytical techniques including bulk electrochemical analysis, scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM), scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM), atomic force microscope (AFM) and plasmonic based electrochemical microscopy (P-ECM). The fundamental study will shed light on the major factors governing the catalyst activity of gold-based catalysts and also help design and development of other catalysts.