Two students writing on a glass whiteboard

Energy Materials and Nano-Biomedicine Laboratory

The Laboratory for Energy Materials and Nano-Biomedicine investigates fundamental structure-property relationships of nanomaterials for energy applications and nano biomedicine. 

Energy Materials

Our research focuses on developing novel structures, via nanoscale design and compositional optimization, for creating unique physical properties in photonically-activated iron oxides and porphyrin compounds. The research activities deal with spectral-selective nanomaterials for solar light harvesting, conversion, and energy generation. Fundamental operating mechanisms are the key aspects of the research that correlate the physical properties to the electronic and molecular structures of the new nanomaterials. Transparent, spectral selective, and green thin films are developed based on various porphyrin compounds such as chlorophyll and chlorophyllin. 

Photothermal example

These spectral selective thin films are structurally tailored to the desired optical properties with strong UV and NIR absorptions and high visible transmittance. A new concept of photothermal- and photovoltaic- dual modality is developed based on these structurally designed materials that can efficiently harvest and convert solar light to both electricity and thermal energy, seasonably altered. The goal of research is to search for new paths leading the next-generation energy free infrastructure.

Nano Biomedicine

The advancement of nanotechnologies has profoundly transformed diagnosis and therapeutics in many aspects of medicine. With nanotechnologies, medical diagnosis and therapeutics can be carried out in a spatially and temporally precision fashion, even at the genetic level. Our Nanomedicine Laboratory deals with the critical issues on:

  • Nano carrier design
  • Biological barriers
  • Therapeutic efficacy and toxicity
  • Synergistic gene systemic delivery. 

In collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the most recent works concentrate on pulmonary vascular disease that encompasses a wide range of serious afflictions with important clinical implications. A promising avenue to overcome critical issues in efficient cell targeting within the lung is established via a uniquely designed nanosystem. 

Diagram of nanobiomedicine research of nanoparticles

Polyplexes are created by functionalizing hyperbranched PEI with biological fatty acids and carboxylate-terminated PEG through a one-pot 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)carbodiimide hydrochloride/N-hydroxysuccinimide reaction. Following intravenous injection, polyplexes show an exceptionally high specificity to the pulmonary microvascular endothelium, allowing for the successful delivery of stabilized enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) expressing messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA).

Recent Research

For details of current research activities, please visit our Recent Research page.


Headshot of Donglu Shi

Donglu Shi

Professor, CEAS - Materials Science & Engineering

493 Rhodes Hall


As a Staff Scientist at the Materials Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory, Dr. Donglu Shi carried out research in the field of high-temperature superconductors for a period of seven years. His research efforts were focused on investigating novel superconducting materials that have potential applications in energy storage and transmission, as well as studying their fundamental vortex dynamics and magnetic behaviors.  At Argonne, he also served as a Principal Investigator for a Department of Energy program focused on electronic materials during this time. After leaving Argonne, Dr. Shi joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Cincinnati as a faculty member and continued his research in advanced materials. Dr. Shi currently serves as Chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Program in the Dept. of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Shi's research encompasses a wide range of fields, including nanoscience, energy materials, biomedical engineering, precision medicine, and condensed matter physics, resulting in more than 300 peer-reviewed journal publications in top-tier journals such as Nature, Physical Review Letters, Advanced Materials, and ACS Nano. His scholarly contributions have earned him a Google Scholar h-index of 70. Additionally, Dr. Shi is a Fellow of the American Society for Materials International and a Graduate College Fellow at the University of Cincinnati.

Dr. Shi's National Science Foundation supported research programs on energy materials:

Dr. Shi's  NSF research on plasma virus disinfection:

Dr. Shi's personal website:

Dr. Shi's Google Scholar h-index:

Dr. Shi's joural publications and books: