Li Cao

Contact Information

  • Email: Li Cao
  • Phone: 937-229-2672
  • Location: Kettering Laboratories Room 521A

Li Cao

Research Engineer

  • Full-Time Faculty

Selected Publications

  • Anderson, A., Yang, F., Cao, L., Li, H., Meziani, M. J., & Sun, Y.-P. (2016). Tethered anthracene pair as molecular tweezers for post-production separation of single-walled carbon nanotubes. Chem. Phys. Lett., 657, 190–194.
  • Cao, L., Hou, Y., Lafdi, K., & Urmey, K. (2015). Fluorescent composite scaffolds made of nanodiamonds/polycaprolactone. Chem. Phys. Lett., 641, 123–128.
  • Liu, J., Cao, L., LeCroy, G., Wang, P., Meziani, M., Dong, Y., Liu, Y., Luo, P., & Sun, Y.-P. (2015). Carbon quantum dots for fluorescence labeling of cells. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 7, 19439–19445.
  • Sahu, S., Cao, L., Meziani, M., Bunker, C., Fernando, S., Wang, P., & Sun, Y-P. (2015). Carbon dioxide photoconversion driven by visible-light excitation of small carbon nanoparticles in various configurations. Chem. Phys. Lett., 634, 122-128.
  • Cao, L., Emami, S., & Lafdi, K. (2014). Large-scale exfoliation of hexagonal boron nitride nanosheets in liquid phase. Materials Express, 4, 165-171.
  • Hikita, M., Cao, L., & Lafdi, K. (2014). Optical properties of carbon microcoils. Appl. Phys. Lett., 104, 041905.
  • Cao, L., Meziani, M., Sahu, S., & Sun, Y.-P. (2013). Photoluminescence properties of graphene versus other carbon nanomaterials. Acc. Chem. Res., 46, 171–180.
  • Anilkumar, P., Cao, L., Yu, J.-J., Tackett II, K. N., Wang, P., Meziani, M., & Sun, Y.-P. (2013). Crosslinked carbon dots as ultra-bright fluorescence probes, Small, 9, 545-551.
  • Xu, J., Sahu, S., Cao, L., Bunker, C., Peng, G., Fernando, K. A. S., Wang, P., Guliants, E., Meziani, M., & Sun, Y.-P. (2012). Efficient fluorescence quenching in carbon dots by surface-doped metals - disruption of excited state redox processes and mechanistic implications. Langmuir, 28, 16141–16147.
  • Lu, F. S., Wang, F., Cao, L., Kong, C. Y., & Huang, X. C. (2012). Hexagonal boron nitride nanomaterials: Advances towards bioapplications. Nanosci. Nanotechnol. Lett., 4, 949–961.
  • Cao, L., Sahu, S., Anilkumar, P., Kong, C. Y., & Sun, Y.-P. (2012). Linear and nonlinear optical properties of modified graphene-based materials. MRS Bulletin, 37, 1283–1289.
  • Cao, L., Yang, S.-T., Wang, X., Luo, P., Liu, J.-H., Sahu, S., Liu, Y., & Sun, Y.-P. (2012). Competitive performance of carbon quantum dots in optical bioimaging. Theranostics, 2, 295–301.
  • Song, W.-L., Wang, P., Cao, L., Anderson, A., Meziani, M., Farr, A., & Sun, Y.-P. (2012). Polymer/boron nitride nanocomposite materials for superior thermal transport performance. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 124, 1–5.
  • Cao, L., Sahu, S., Anilkumar, P., Bunker, C., Fernando, K., Guliants, E., & Sun, Y.-P. (2011). Carbon nanoparticles as visible-light photocatalysts for efficient CO2 conversion and beyond.  J. Am. Chem. Soc., 133, 4754–4757.
  • Cao, L., Anilkumar, P., Wang, X., Liu, J.-H., Sahu, S., Meziani, M., Myers, E., & Sun, Y. (2011). Reverse Stern-Volmer behavior for fluorescence quenching in carbon nanoparticles. Can. J. Chem., 89, 104–109.
  • Wang, X., Cao, L., Yang, S., Lu, F., Meziani, M., Tian, L., Sun, K., Bloodgood, M., & Sun, Y. (2010). Bandgap-like strong fluorescence in functionalized carbon nanoparticles. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 122, 5438–5442.
  • Wang, X., Cao, L., Bunker, C., Meziani, M., Lu, F., Guliants, E., & Sun, Y.-P. (2010). Fluorescence decoration of defects in carbon nanotubes. J. Phys. Chem. C, 114, 20941–20946.
  • Liu, J., Cao, L., Luo, P., Yang, S., Lu, F., Wang, H., Meziani, M., Haque, A., Liu, Y., Lacher, S., & Sun, Y.-P. (2010). Fullerene-Conjugated Doxorubicin in Cells ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2 1384–1389.
  • Yang, S., Cao, L., Luo, G., Lu, F., Wang, X., Wang, H., Meziani M., Liu, Y., Qi, G., & Sun, Y. (2009). Carbon dots for optical imaging in vivo, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 131, 11308–11309.
  • Wang, X., Cao L., Lu, F. S., Meziani, M. J., Li, H. T., Qi, G., Zhou, B., Harruff, B., Kermarrec, F., & Sun, Y.-P. (2009). Photoinduced electron transfers with carbon dots. Chemical Communications, 25, 3774–3776.
  • Cao, L., Wang, X., Meziani, M., Lu, F., Wang, H., Luo, P., Lin, Y., Harruff, B., Veca, L., Murray, D., Xie, S., & Sun, Y.-P. (2007). Carbon dots for multiphoton bioimaging. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 129(37), 11318–11319. Highlighted in Dot to dot. Nature, 449, 263. and in Carbon dots illuminated with two photons. (2007). Biophotonics International, 14, 18.
  • Cao, L., Miao, Y., Zhang, Z., Xie, S., Yang, G., & Zou, B. (2005). Exciton interactions in CdS nanocrystal aggregates in reverse micelle. J. Chem. Phys., 123, 024702 (1–6).
  • Deng, Z., Cao, L., Tang, F., & Zou, B. (2005). A new route to zinc-blende CdSe nanocrystals: Mechanism and synthesis. J. Phys. Chem. B, 109, 16671–16675. Highlighted in Nanoparticles cooked up in aerosol spray. Nature Materials.

Courses Taught

  • Engineering Thermodynamics: EGR 202
  • Fabrication and Characterization of Advanced Composite Materials: MAT 595

Selected Honors and Awards

  • Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Fellowship Grant Award, USA 2008


  • Ph.D. Condensed Matter Physics, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, 2005

Professional Activities

  • Lead Guest Editor ─ Journal of Nanomaterials (2015-2016)
  • Member of Editorial Board ─ Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Letters (NNL) (2010-2012)
  • Served as a peer reviewer for more than 20 scientific journals from ACS, APS, RSC, Elsevier, etc.
  • Sigma Xi
  • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)

Research Interests

  • Multidisciplinary research in the fields of physics, materials science, chemistry, energy science, biology, nanoscience and nanotechnology
  • Optical, electronic, thermal, magnetic, mechanical properties, analysis and applications of various advanced nanomaterials and their composites
  • Bio-photonic application of optical nanomaterials
  • Preparation and applications of 2D advanced nanostructure materials: carbon-based nanomaterials and BN based nanomaterials
  • Additive manufacturing material development and application
  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM) with ABS, PLA, ULTEM 9085, preceramic polymer and nanocomposites
  • Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) with stainless steel, aluminum, titanium and Inconel powders