Lab News

December 23, 2015. Our paper on "Synthesis and liquid crystal behavior of bent colloidal silica rods" is accepted for publication in JACS as a Communication. Congratulations to Yang and all the co-authors!!!

November 19, 2015. Maria was selected as one of the semi-finalists of the very competitive Presidential Management Fellowship  (PMF). Congratulations to Maria!!!

November 19, 2015. Our paper on "Folding up gold nanoparticle strings into plasmonic vesicles for enhanced photoacoustic imaging" is featured as a VIP paper in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.. Congratulations to Yijing and all the co-authors!!!

November 16, 2015. Our paper on "Light-triggered Generation of Multifunctional Gas-Filled Capsules On-demand" is accepted for publication in Journal of Materials Chemistry. Congratulations to Lei, Jianying and all the co-authors!!!

November 4, 2015. Our paper on "Photoacoustic and Colorimetric Visualization of Latent Fingerprints" is accepted for publication in ACS Nano. Congratulations to Kai and Chenglin!!!

October 29, 2015. Our paper on "Self-assembly of Shaped Nanoparticles into Free-standing 2D and 3D Superlattices" is accepted for publication in Small. Congratulations to Weikun and all the co-authors!!!

October 21, 2015. Our paper on "Formation of hybrid core-shell microgels induced by autonomous unidirectional migration of nanoparticles" is accepted for publication in Materials Horizons. Congratulations to Jianying, Kai, and all the co-authors!!!

October 10, 2015. Our paper on "Gold nanoparticle strings wrap up into plasmonic vesicles for enhanced photoacoustic imaging" is accepted for publication in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.. Congratulations to Yijing, Jie and all the co-authors!!!

August 11, 2015. Our paper on "Platinum Nanoparticles: Efficient and Stable Catechol Oxidase Mimetics" is accepted for publication in ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces. Congratulations to Yi!!!

July 7, 2015. Our paper on "“Two-Step" Raman Imaging-Guided Chemo-Photothermal Cancer Therapy" is accepted for publication in Chemistry-A European Journal!!!

April 30, 2015. Our paper on "Continuous Microfluidic Self-Assembly of Hybrid Janus-Like Vesicular Motors: Autonomous Propulsion and Controlled Release" is accepted for publication in Small. Congratulations to Lei and Yijing!!!

April 9, 2015. Maria won the 2nd place  for research project oral presentation on the Graduate Research Interaction Day (GRID), as well as $425 travel award to attend national conferences.

December 21, 2014. Our paper on "Self-assembly of Amphiphilic Block Copolymer-tethered Nanoparticles: A New Approach to Nanoscale Design of Functional Materials" is accepted for publication in Macromol. Rapid Comm.. Congratulations to Yi and Yijing!!!

December 20, 2014. Our paper on "Concurrent Self-assembly of Amphiphiles into Nanoarchitectures with Increasing Complexity" is accepted for publication in Nano Today. Congratulations to Yijing and Ben!!!

October 30, 2014. Dr. Nie was selected for the CMNS Outstanding Junior Faculty Award by board of visitors. "...Dr. Nie has interdisciplinary projects spanning colloidal and polymer science, computer modeling, nanochemistry and biomedical engineering. His nanoparticle synthesis and discovery program has created new materials with demonstrated potential for transformative applications...". Dr. Nie will receive a plaque from the Board and a cash prize. Congratulations!!

October 20, 2014. Yijing received the Merit Fellowship for Student Travel from our University. This prestigious award will allow him to attend any conferences. Congratulations!!

August 30, 2014. Our paper on "Hybrid Hydrogel Sheets that Undergo Pre-Programmed Shape Transformations" is accepted for publication in Soft Matter. Congratulations to Zengjiang and Jasmin!!!

July 29, 2014. Our paper on "pH Dependent Catalytic Activities of Platinum Nanoparticles with Respect to the Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide and Scavenging of Superoxide and Singlet Oxygen" is accepted for publication in Nanosacle. Congratulations to Yi!!!

July 10, 2014. Our paper on "Harnessing the Collective Properties of Nanoparticle Ensembles for Cancer Theranostics" is accepted for publication in Nano Research. Congratulations to Yi!!!

June 25, 2014. Maria received the 2014 Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) Travel Award from Division of Graduate Education at the NSF and the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research (MESR). This award will allow her to conduct research at Centre Interdisciplinarie de Nanoscience de Marseille in France. Congratulations, Maria!!

April 18, 2014. Ravi was awarded the 2014 Graduate Student Summer Research Fellowship from our Graduate School. This fellowship is designed to provide support to doctoral students at “mid-career. Congratulations, Ravi!!

April 15, 2014. Our collaborative paper on "Spontaneous organization of inorganic nanoparticles into nanovesicles triggered by UV light" is accepted for publication in Advanced Materials. Congratulations to Maria!

April 9, 2014. Yijing was awarded the 2014 Ann G. Wylie Dissertation Fellowship. This award is intended to support outstanding doctoral students who are in the final stages of writing their dissertation. Congratulations, Yijing!!

April 2, 2014. Marcus received the 2014 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowshipg. This prestigious award provides annual stipend support for three years towards his PhD study. Congratulations to Marcus!!!

Mar 12, 2014. Dr. Nie received the 2014 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award. This award (including unrestricted funds to support the research program) is offered annually to junior faculty in the U.S.  based on academic leadership potential and relevance to 3M’s core mission. Congratulations!!

Feb 27, 2014. Yijing received the Goldhaber Travel Award for attending upcoming ACS Meeting. Congratulations to Yijing!!!

Feb 26, 2014. Ravi and Maria received the CSW Student Travel Award for attending upcoming ACS Meeting. Congratulations to Ravi and Maria!!!

Jan 22, 2014. Our paper on "Entropy-driven Pattern Formation of Hybrid Vesicular Assemblies Made from Molecular and Nanoparticle Amphiphile" is accepted for publication in JACS. Congratulations to Yijing, Jie, and Kaleb!!!

Jan 15, 2014. Ravi received the prestigious Green Fund Fellowship for Collaborative Research on Environment from University of Maryland. Congratulations!!!

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Group picture, 2013

Welcome to Materials and Microfluidics Research Group!

Our mission is to develop new strategies/concepts for  the synthesis and design of new nano- and micro-structured materials with advanced applications. We conduct fundamental and applied research at the intersection of  science, engineering, biology, and medicine.

We aim at: (a) the synthesis, fabrication, and self-assembly of functional nanostructures for the development of renewable energy, for chemical sensing, and so on; (b) the study of biomineralization, and bioinspired/biomimetic nanocomposite materials with structural hierarchy; (c) the exploration of microfluidics and nanofluidics for chemical synthesis, biological study, and medical diagnostics.

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Three-dimensional reconstruction of nanoparticle vesicles composed of a single layer of highly ordered gold nanoparticles in the membrane using tomographic TEM (diameter of gold nanoparticles: 15 nm).


DPD simulation of the time-dependent self-assembly of nanoparticles grafted with amphiphilic block copolymers into hollow plasmonic vesicles.


The use of assembled plasmonic vesicles for photoacoustic imaging of tumors in mice.


Near-infrared (NIR) light triggered burst release of encapsulated molecules from giant vesicles composed of a single layer of gold nanorods in the membrane (black: vesicles; white: NIR light spot; size of giant vesicles: ~2,000 nm).

Reversible shape transformation of 2D hydrogel sheets into 3D helical structure.


Selected Publications

  1. Y. Yang, Gu.D. Chen, L. Martinez-Miranda, K. Liu,* and Z.H. Nie*, Synthesis and liquid crystal behavior of bent silica rods, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2015, Accepted.
  2. Y.J. Liu, J. He, K.K. Yang, C.L. Yi, Y. Liu, L.M. Nie, N. M. Khashab, X.Y. Chen*, Z.H. Nie*, Folding up gold nanoparticle into vesicles for photoacoustic imaging, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2015, ASAP (DOI: 10.1002/anie.201508616) (Featured as VIP article).
  3. K. Song, P. Huang, C.L. Yi, B. Ning, S. Hu, L.M. Nie, X.Y. Chen,* Z.H Nie*, Colorimetric and Photoacoustic Imaging for Latent Fingerprints Visualization, ACS Nano, 2015, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b05629.
  4. Y.J. Liu, Y.C. Li, J. He, K. Duelge, Z.Y. Lu*, Z.H. Nie*, Entropy-driven Pattern Formation of Hybrid Vesicular Assemblies Made from Molecular and Nanoparticle Amphiphile, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, ASAP (DOI: 10.1021/ja412172f).
  5. P. Huang, J. Lin, W.W. Li, P.F. Rong, Z. Wang, S.J. Wang, X.P. Wang, X.L. Sun, M. Aronova, G. Niu, R.D. Leapman, Z.H. Nie*, X.Y. Chen*, Biodegradable Gold Nanovesicles with Ultra-strong Plasmonic Coupling Effect for Photoacoustic Imaging-Guided Photothermal Therapy, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 13958–13964.
  6. J. Lin, S.J. Wang, P. Huang, Z. Wang, S.H. Chen, G. Niu, W.W. Li, J. He, D.X. Cui, G. M. Lu, X.Y. Chen*, Z.H. Nie*, Photosensitizer-loaded gold vesicles with strong plasmonic coupling effect for imaging-guided photothermal/photodynamic therapy, ACS Nano, 2013, 7, 5320–5329
  7. J. He, X.L. Huang, Y.C. Li, Y.J. Liu, T. Babu, M.A. Aronova, S.J. Wang, Z.Y. Lu,* X.Y. Chen,* Z.H. Nie*, Self-assembly of amphiphilic plasmonic micelle-like nanoparticles in selective solvents, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013, 135, 7974–7984.
  8. Z. L. Wu, M. Moshe, J. Greener, H. Therien-Aubin, Z.H. Nie*, E. Sharon*, E. Kumacheva*, Three-dimensional Shape Transformations of Hydrogel Sheets Induced by Small-Scale Modulation of Internal Stresses, Nature Communications, 2013, 4, 1586.
  9. H. Thérien-Aubin, Z.L. Wu, Z.H. Nie*, E. Kumacheva*, Multiple shape transformations of composite hydrogel sheets, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013, 135, 4834-4839.
  10. J. He, Z. J. Wei, L. Wang, Z. Tomova, T. Babu#, C. Y. Wang, X. J. Han, J.T. Fourkas, Z.H. Nie*, Hydrodynamically driven self-assembly of giant vesicles of metal nanoparticles for remotely triggered release, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 2463-2468.
  11. Z.J. Wei, J. He, T. Liang (high school student), H. Oh, J. Athas, Z. Tong, C.Y. Wang* and Z.H. Nie*, Autonomous self-healing of poly (acrylic acid) hydrogels induced by the migration of metal ions, Polymer Chemistry, 2013, 4, 4601-4605. (Polymer Chemistry's Top 10 most-read rticles for Q3 2013).
  12. J. He, Y.J. Liu, T. Babu, Z.J. Wei, Z.H. Nie*, Self-assembly of inorganic nanoparticle vesicles and tubules driven by tethered linear block copolymers, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 11342−11345.
  13. J. He, M. T. Perez, Y.J. Liu, P. Zhang, J.L. Gong*, Z.H. Nie*, A general approach to synthesize asymmetric hybrid nanoparticles by interfacial reactions, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 3639−3642.
  14. J. He, B.Y. Yu, M. J. Hourwitz#, Y.J. Liu, M. T. Perez, J.  Yang, Z.H. Nie*,Wet-chemical synthesis of amphiphilic rodlike silica particles and their molecular-mimetic assembly in selective solvents, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 3628 –3633.



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