Yunlong Zhao

Dr Yunlong Zhao

Lecturer in Energy Storage and Bioelectronics
+44 (0)1483 689862
22 ATI 02



Dr. Yunlong Zhao joined the Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey as Lecturer (Assistant Professor) and with a joint appointment at the National Physical Laboratory (UK) as senior research scientist since October 2018. Prior to this appointment, he carried out his postdoctoral research and joint doctoral research under the advice of Prof. Charles Lieber at Harvard University (2014-2018), where he conducted research in nano-semiconductor devices and flexible electronics for electrophysiology and nano-bio interface. He also received his undergraduate and postgraduate research training at Wuhan University of Technology under the supervision of Prof. Liqiang Mai and Prof. Qingjie Zhang (2009-2014), with focus on electrochemical energy storage and electrochemical probing.

Dr. Zhao gained highly multidisciplinary research experience in materials science, electrochemistry, energy storage, bioelectronics and nano-bio interface, and has deep interest in understanding and further optimizing electron/ion transport at the interface between electrode material and energy conversion/storage systems, as well as understanding electrical/chemical/biological signal processing at the interface between electronics and biological systems, via engineering micro-/nanoscale materials to enable novel energy conversion/storage devices, electrochemical/bio- sensors, and their integration in flexible electronics. His works led to over 40 publications in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Materials, PNAS and Nano Letters with citation over 4000, and H-index of 27.

Research interests

  1. Advanced materials synthesis, assembly and in-situ characterization
  2. Novel energy conversion/storage devices and electrochemical probing
  3. Nanoelectronic devices, sensors and 3D soft electronic systems
  4. Interface between electronics and biosystems

Positions are available now for graduate students, undergraduate students, visiting students and postdoc. Applicants with the background for energy storage, electrochemistry, nanofabrication, bioelectronics, tissue engineering are very welcome. Prospective members with high self-motivation in science and engineering are encouraged to contact Dr. Zhao to explore the opportunities further.

    Publication highlights

    1. Yunlong Zhao, Siheng Sean You, Anqi Zhang, Jae-Hyun Lee, Jinlin Huang, Charles M Lieber “Scalable ultrasmall nanowire 3D transistor probes for intracellular recording” Nature Nanotechnology (Accepted).
    2. Liqiang Mai, Mengyu Yan, Yunlong Zhao "Track batteries degrading in real time." Nature 546.7659 (2017): 469.
    3. Xiao Yang, Tao Zhou, Ted Zwang, Guosong Hong, Yunlong Zhao, Robert Viveros, Tianming Fu, Teng Gao and Charles M Lieber, “Bioinspired neuron-like electronics,” Nature Materials (2019).
    4. Yunlong Zhao, Jiangang Feng, Xue Liu, Fengchao Wang, Lifen Wang, Changwei Shi, Lei Huang, Xi Feng, Xiyuan Chen, Lin Xu, Mengyu Yan, Qingjie Zhang, Xuedong Bai, Hengan Wu, Liqiang Mai "Self-adaptive strain-relaxation optimization for high-energy lithium storage material through crumpling of graphene." Nature Communications 5 (2014).
    5. Yunlong Zhao, Jun Yao, Lin Xu, Max N Mankin, Yinbo Zhu, Hengan Wu, Liqiang Mai, Qingjie Zhang, Charles M Lieber "Shape-controlled deterministic assembly of nanowires." Nano Letters 16.4 (2016): 2644-2650.
    6. Yunlong Zhao, Chunhua Han, Junwei Yang, Jie Su, Xiaoming Xu, Shuo Li, Lin Xu, Ruopian Fang, Hong Jiang, Xiaodong Zou, Bo Song, Liqiang Mai, Qingjie Zhang "Stable alkali metal ion intercalation compounds as optimized metal oxide nanowire cathodes for lithium batteries." Nano Letters 15.3 (2015): 2180-2185.
    7. Yunlong Zhao, Lin Xu, Liqiang Mai, Chunhua Han, Qinyou An, Xu Xu, Xue Liu, Qingjie Zhang "Hierarchical mesoporous perovskite La0.5Sr0.5CoO2.91 nanowires with ultrahigh capacity for Li-air batteries." PNAS 109.48 (2012): 19569-19574.


    2. Laboratories, design & professional studies II (EEE1028)
    3. Year 1 UG tutor 

    University roles and responsibilities

    Faculty International Committee membership and involved with international (UG, MSc and PhD) student recruitment.


    1. Room 22 ATI 02, Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK.
    2. Room G9-A10, National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, TW11 0LW, UK.

    Email:,; Tel: +44 (0)1483689862 (Office). 



    Research interests

    My teaching


    Postgraduate research supervision

    Postgraduate research supervision

    My publications


    Recent publications (October 2018 - Present):

    46. Yunlong Zhao, Siheng Sean You, Anqi Zhang, Jae-Hyun Lee, Jinlin Huang, Charles M Lieber* “Scalable ultrasmall nanowire 3D transistor probes for intracellular recording” Nature Nanotechnology (Accepted).

    45. Zechao Zhuang, Yong Li, Jiazhao Huang, Zilan Li, Kangning Zhao, Yunlong Zhao, Lin Xu, Liang Zhou, Lyudmila V. Moskaleva, and Liqiang Mai*. "Sisyphus effects in hydrogen electrochemistry on metal silicides enabled by silicene subunit edge." Science Bulletin 64, (2019): 617–624.

    44.  Guobin Zhang, Tengfei Xiong, Xuelei Pan, Yunlong Zhao*, Mengyu Yan*, Haining Zhang, Buke Wu, Kangning Zhao, Liqiang Mai*, "Illumining phase transformation dynamics of vanadium oxide cathode by multimodal techniques under operando conditions." Nano Research (2019): 1–6.

    43. Xiao Yang, Tao Zhou, Ted Zwang, Guosong Hong, Yunlong Zhao, Robert Viveros, Tianming Fu, Teng Gao and Charles M Lieber*, “Bioinspired neuron-like electronics.” Nature Materials 18, (2019): 510–517.

    42Xuhui Yao, Yunlong Zhao*, Fernando Castro, and Liqiang Mai*. "Rational Design of Pre-Intercalated Electrodes for Rechargeable Battery." ACS Energy Letters 4, 3, (2019): 771–778.

    41. Zhenhui Liu, Qiang Yu, Yunlong Zhao, Ruhan He, Ming Xu, Shihao Feng, Shidong Li, Liang Zhou, and Liqiang Mai*. "Silicon oxides: a promising family of anode materials for lithium-ion batteries." Chemical Society Reviews 48, 1, (2019): 285-309.

    40. Yanhui Chu*, Siyi Jing, Da Liu, Jinchao Liu, and Yunlong Zhao*. "Morphological control and kinetics in three dimensions for hierarchical nanostructures growth by screw dislocations." Acta Materialia 162 (2019): 284-291.

    39. Qi Li, Zhiquan Hu, Ziang Liu, Yunlong Zhao, Ming Li, Jiashen Meng, Xiaocong Tian, Xiaoming Xu, and Liqiang Mai*. "Recent Advances in Nanowire‐Based, Flexible, Freestanding Electrodes for Energy Storage." Chemistry–A European Journal 24, no. 69 (2018): 18307-18321.


    Chu Yanhui, Jing Siyi, Liu Da, Liu Jinchao, Zhao Yunlong (2019) Morphological control and kinetics in three dimensions for hierarchical nanostructures growth by screw dislocations, Acta Materialia 162 pp. 284-291
    The precise control and in-depth understanding of the anisotropic crystal screw dislocation growth could yield further optimization of nanomaterial design and broader applications, yet the studies of rational control and kinetics for more complex nanostructures are still insufficient. In this work, by programming synthesis conditions, we achieve a controllable three-dimensional (3D) screw dislocation growth of hierarchical nanostructures, including nanowires, nanoplates, and previously unreported hierarchical hollow nanobelts, via a facile chemical vapor deposition approach. Notably, the screw dislocation growth in nanobelts is confirmed by the clear observations of the stepwise spiral terraces with initial hexagonal to octagonal shapes and the hollow cores in the growth spiral centers, as well as the fundamental Burton-Cabrera-Frank crystal growth theoretical calculations. The formation of the nanowires and nanoplates can be well interpreted by the previously reported screw dislocation growth model, while a new 3D screw dislocation growth model with considering of transition in growth velocities and directions is proposed to interpret the formation of the nanobelts and other potential complex nanostructures. This study not only enriches our understanding of the screw dislocation growth kinetics but also guides us to achieve the precise morphological design and control in nanosynthesis.
    Yao Xuhui, Zhao Yunlong, Castro Fernando A., Mai Liqiang (2019) Rational Design of Preintercalated Electrodes for Rechargeable Batteries, ACS Energy Letters 4 (3) pp. 771-778
    Rational design of the morphology and complementary compounding of electrode materials have contributed substantially to improving battery performance, yet the capabilities of conventional electrode materials have remained limited in some key parameters including energy and power density, cycling stability, etc. because of their intrinsic properties, especially the restricted thermodynamics of reactions and the inherent slow diffusion dynamics induced by the crystal structures. In contrast, preintercalation of ions or molecules into the crystal structure with/without further lattice reconstruction could provide fundamental optimizations to overcome these intrinsic limitations. In this Perspective, we discuss the essential optimization mechanisms of preintercalation in improving electronic conductivity and ionic diffusion, inhibiting ?lattice breathing? and screening the carrier charge. We also summarize the current challenges in preintercalation and offer insights on future opportunities for the rational design of preintercalation electrodes in next-generation rechargeable batteries.
    Zhang Guobin, Xiong Tengfei, Pan Xuelei, Zhao Yunlong, Yan Mengyu, Zhang Haining, Wu Buke, Zhao Kangning, Mai Liqiang (2019) Illumining phase transformation dynamics of vanadium oxide cathode by multimodal techniques under operando conditions, Nano Research 12 (4) pp. 905-910 Tsinghua University Press
    Subtle structural changes during electrochemical processes often relate to the degradation of electrode materials. Characterizing the minutevariations in complementary aspects such as crystal structure, chemical bonds, and electron/ion conductivity will give an in-depth understanding on the reaction mechanism of electrode materials, as well as revealing pathways for optimization. Here, vanadium pentoxide (V2O5), a typical cathode material suffering from severe capacity decay during cycling, is characterized by in-situ X-ray diffraction (XRD) and in-situ Raman spectroscopy combined with electrochemical tests. The phase transitions of V2O5 within the 0?1 Li/V ratio are characterized in detail. The V?O and V?V distances became more extended and shrank compared to the original ones after charge/discharge process, respectively.
    Combined with electrochemical tests, these variations are vital to the crystal structure cracking, which is linked with capacity fading. This work demonstrates that chemical bond changes between the transition metal and oxygen upon cycling serve as the origin of the capacity fading.
    Yang Xiao, Zhou Tao, Zwang Theodore J., Hong Guosong, Zhao Yunlong, Viveros Robert D., Fu Tian-Ming, Gao Teng, Lieber Charles M. (2019) Bioinspired neuron-like electronics, Nature Materials 18 (5) pp. 510-517
    As an important application of functional biomaterials, neural probes have contributed substantially to studying the brain. Bioinspired and biomimetic strategies have begun to be applied to the development of neural probes, although these and previous generations of probes have had structural and mechanical dissimilarities from their neuron targets that lead to neuronal loss, neuroinflammatory responses and measurement instabilities. Here, we present a bioinspired design for neural probes?neuron-like electronics (NeuE)?where the key building blocks mimic the subcellular structural features and mechanical properties of neurons. Full three-dimensional mapping of implanted NeuE?brain interfaces highlights the structural indistinguishability and intimate interpenetration of NeuE and neurons. Time-dependent histology and electrophysiology studies further reveal a structurally and functionally stable interface with the neuronal and glial networks shortly following implantation, thus opening opportunities for next-generation brain?machine interfaces. Finally, the NeuE subcellular structural features are shown to facilitate migration of endogenous neural progenitor cells, thus holding promise as an electrically active platform for transplantation-free regenerative medicine.
    Li Qi, Hu Zhiquan, Liu Ziang, Zhao Yunlong, Li Ming, Meng Jiashen, Tian Xiaocong, Xu Xiaoming, Mai Liqiang (2018) Recent Advances in Nanowire?Based, Flexible, Freestanding Electrodes for Energy Storage, Chemistry ? A European Journal 24 (69) pp. 18307-18321 Wiley
    The rational design of flexible electrodes is essential for achieving high performance in flexible and wearable energy?storage devices, which are highly desired with fast?growing demands for flexible electronics. Owing to the one?dimensional structure, nanowires with continuous electron conduction, ion diffusion channels, and good mechanical properties are particularly favorable for obtaining flexible freestanding electrodes that can realize high energy/power density, while retaining long?term cycling stability under various mechanical deformations. This Minireview focuses on recent advances in the design, fabrication, and application of nanowire?based flexible freestanding electrodes with diverse compositions, while highlighting the rational design of nanowire?based materials for high?performance flexible electrodes. Existing challenges and future opportunities towards a deeper fundamental understanding and practical applications are also presented.
    Liu Zhenhui, Yu Qiang, Zhao Yunlong, He Ruhan, Xu Ming, Feng Shihao, Li Shidong, Zhou Liang, Mai Liqiang (2019) Silicon oxides: a promising family of anode materials for lithium-ion batteries, Chemical Society Reviews 48 (1) pp. 285-309
    Silicon oxides have been recognized as a promising family of anode materials for high-energy
    lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) owing to their abundant reserve, low cost, environmental friendliness, easy
    synthesis, and high theoretical capacity. However, the extended application of silicon oxides is severely
    hampered by the intrinsically low conductivity, large volume change, and low initial coulombic efficiency.
    Significant efforts have been dedicated to tackling these challenges towards practical applications. This Review focuses on the recent advances in the synthesis and lithium storage properties of silicon oxide-based anode materials. To present the progress in a systematic manner, this review is categorized as follows: (i) SiO-based anode materials, (ii) SiO2-based anode materials, (iii) non-stoichiometric SiOx-based anode materials, and (iv) Si?O?C-based anode materials. Finally, future outlook and our personal perspectives on silicon oxide-based anode materials are presented.

    Additional publications