Emerging Investigator: Xiaogang Liu at Singapore University of Technology and Design

Emerging Investigator: Xiaogang Liu

Position           Assistant Professor

Education        2010–2014  University of Cambridge             Ph.D.

ORCID            0000-0002-2553-2068                   Google Scholar

Read Xiaogang Liu’s Emerging Investigator Series article in Materials Chemistry Frontiers and learn more about him.

  The fluorescence quenching mechanism of tetrazine-functionalized fluorogenic labels with integrated π-conjugations: internal conversion to a dark state  


We formalized a unique working mechanism – internal conversion to a dark state (ICDS) to rationalize the fluorogenicity of the tetrazine-fused fluorophores with integrated π-conjugations.


  From the themed collection: Frontiers Emerging Investigator Series  
  The article was first published on 19 Jan 2023  
  Mater. Chem. Front., 2023, 7, 1082-1092  

My research interests

Key words: dye chemistry, photochemistry, computational chemistry, fluorophores, fluorescent probes
We conduct both computational and experimental studies on fluorescent dyes and sensors. We use both “bottom-up” and “top-down” approaches to systematically summarize molecular design rules. In the “bottom-up” approach, we employ quantum chemical calculations and experimental characterizations to understand the molecular origins of a particular dye, before generalizing such knowledge to a wide range of compounds. In the “top-down” approach, we perform “data mining” in chemical databases and search patterns between molecular structures and their properties; subsequently, we validate these patterns using quantum chemical calculations, and thereby generate molecular design rules.

These rational molecular design rules enable us to develop novel fluorescent dyes and sensors with enhanced performance. A deep understanding of the structure–property relationships of fluorophores also permits us to reveal the photophysics and photochemistry of various fluorescent compounds.

Our research vision is to shift the chemistry of fluorophores from “trial-and-error” to molecular engineering, such that one gains the ultimate abilities to “design” tailored fluorescent properties to suit a given application.

10 Facts about me

An accomplishment I’m particularly proud of is the discovery of a new charge transfer mechanism (twisted intramolecular charge shuttle).  

I am most passionate about my work in understanding the working mechanism of fluorescent compounds because it is fascinating to play with light at the molecular scale.

I published my first academic article on the invisibility cloak in 2010, as a research engineer. It teaches me the importance of teamwork. I have since switched my research directions several times, for curiosity and fun!

My biggest motivation to do research is to uncover the secrets of the natural world.

I advise my students to be critical about any views in the pursuit of science, including those from me.

If I were not a scientist, I would be a teacher. I enjoy teaching and interacting with students.

My passion besides work is reading and travel.

My favorite time of day is early morning at home, with the sunrise and music.

One thing I cannot live without is my family.

The most important thing I learned from my parents is caring for others.

Click to find out our Emerging Investigators and their work

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