Dr. Liu‘s research focuses on 1) development of novel surface engineering techniques for chemically inert semicrystalline polymers; 2) development of new biocidal and biocompatible materials; and 3) micro- and nano-encapsulation of bioactive agents for their targeted and controlled delivery.
Dr. Liu’s main research program is surface engineering of polymeric materials for medical and biomedical applications. Synthetic semicrystalline polymeric materials such as poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), polyurethane (PU), and poly(propylene) (PP) are flexible, resilient, and chemically and mechanically durable. It is these properties that make such polymers desirable for medical uses such as surgical drapes, catheters, vascular grafts, and ligament and tendon prostheses. However, these materials often lack appropriate surface properties essential for minimizing cross-infection in hospitals, or avoiding adverse biological responses such as thrombosis and inflammatory response. Dr. Liu’s lab is striving to develop new surface engineering techniques to durably engineer the surface structure of synthetic polymeric materials to enhance their biological interactions.
Molecular designs of novel potent broad-spectrum biocides, “smart” polymeric biomaterials, and amphiphilic block co-polymers capable of self-assembly in aqueous solution to form nanoparticles are also carried out in Dr. Liu’s lab. One more important research direction involves micro- and nano-encapsulation of bioactive agents for their targeted and controlled delivery.