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Yi Rao

Yi Rao

Analytical/Physical Chemistry

Assistant Professor

Contact Information




  • Ph.D., Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, 2003
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Columbia University, 2004-2007


Research Summary

The research theme of our group is interfacial chemistry. We develop and utilize interface-selective spectroscopies to address fundamental issues related to the environment, energy, and health. We are especially interested in developing nonlinear optical spectroscopy techniques that allow us to understand environmental interfaces, materials interfaces as well as biointerfaces. Students in our group can learn and apply many interdisciplinary techniques including physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, spectroscopy, ultrafast optics, photochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, materials science, and biophysics. Currently, the main projects in our laboratory focus on: 1) Interfacial chemistry and physics in photochemical growth of aerosols in the atmosphere; 2) Interfacial charge transfer of hybrid solar cells; 3) Interactions of lipids with proteins in biomembrane.


Selected Publications

  1. Nicholas R. Monahan, Dezheng Sun, Hiroyuki Tamura, Kristopher W. Williams, Bolei Xu, Yu Zhong, Bharat Kumar, Colin Nuckolls, Avetik R. Harutyunyan, Gugang Chen, Hai-Lung Dai, David Beljonne*, Yi Rao*, X.-Y. Zhu*, Dynamics of the triplet pair state reveals the likely co-existence of coherent and incoherent singlet fission in crystalline hexacene, Nature Chemistry, 2016, doi:10.1038/nchem.2665.
  2. Wan-Yi Li, Xia Li, Steffen Jockusch, Han Wang, Bolei Xu, Yajing Wu, William G. Tsui, Hai-Lung Dai, V. Faye McNeill*, and Yi Rao*,Journal of Physical Chemistry A 2016, 120, 9042-9048.
  3. Yajing Wu, Wanyi Li, Bolei Xu, Xia Li, Faye McNeill*, Yi Rao*, Hai-Lung Dai, Observation of Organic Molecules at the Aerosol Surface, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2016, 7, 2294-2297.
  4. Zhuolei Zhang, Beibei Xu, Bolei Xu, Lei Jin, Hai-Lung Dai, Yi Rao and Shenqiang Ren, External stimuli responsive two-dimensional charge transfer polymers, Advanced Materials Interfaces, 2016, EMID:7cea4733154dc630.
  5. Beibei Xu, Zhipu Luo, Wenxiu Gao, Andrew J Wilson, Chao He, Xing Chen, Guoliang Yuan, Hai-Lung Dai, Yi Rao, Katherine Willets, Zbigniew Dauter, Shenqiang Ren, Solution-processed molecular opto-ferroic crystals, Chemistry of Materials, 2016, 7, 2441-2448.
  6. Gregory H. Imler, Xia Li, Bolei Xu, Graham E. Dobereiner, Hai-Lung Dai, Yi Rao* and Bradford B. Wayland*, Solid state transformation of the crystalline monohydrate (CH3NH3)PbI3(H2O) to the (CH3NH3)PbI3 perovskite, Chem. Comm. 2015, 51, 11290-11292.
  7. Bolei Xu, Yajing Wu, Dezheng Sun, Hai-Lung Dai, Yi Rao*, Stabilized Phase Detection of Heterodyne Sum Frequency Generation for Interfacial Studies, Opt. Lett. 2015, 40, 4472-4475.
  8. N.J. Hestand, H. Yamagata, Bolei Xu, Dezheng Sun, Yu Zhong, Avetik R. Harutyunyan, Gugang Chen, Hai-Lung Dai, Gugang Chen, Yi Rao*, Frank Spano*, Polarized Absorption in Crystalline Pentacence: Experiment vs Theory, J. Phys. Chem. C, 2015 119, 22137–22147.
  9. Giriraj Jnawali, Yi Rao, Jonathan H. Beck, Nicholas Petrone, Ioannis Kymissis, James Hone, Tony F. Heinz, Observation of Ground- and Excited-State Charge Transfer at the C60/Graphene Interface, ACS Nano, 2015, 9 (7), 7175–7185.
  10.  Yi Rao*, Sheldon J.J. Kwok, Nicholas J. Turro, and Kenneth B. Eisenthal*, Label-free probe of HIV-1 TAT peptide binding to mimetic membranes, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2014, 111 (35), 12684-12688.
  11. Dezheng Sun#, Yi Rao#, Georg A. Reider, Gugang Chen, Yumeng You, Louis Brézin, Avetik R. Harutyunyan, and Tony F. Heinz, Observation of Rapid Exciton–Exciton Annihilation in Monolayer Molybdenum Disulfide, Nano Letts. 2014, 14 (10), 5625–5629. (# Those authors contribute equally.)
  12. Giriraj Jnawali, Yi Rao, Hugen Yan, Tony F. Heinz, Transient photo-conductance in a Single-Layer CVD Graphene, Nano Letts. 2013, 13, 524.
  13. Xia Li, Yongjun Li, Yi Rao, Marison R. Solomann, David Pak, Nicholas J Turro, Mechanistic and Catalytic Studies of β-Nitroalcohol Cross-Linking with Polyamine, J. Appl. Polymer. Sci. 2013, 128, 3696.
  14. Benjamin Doughty, Yi Rao, Samuel W. Kazer, Sheldon J.J. Kwok, Nicholas J. Turro, and Kenneth B. Eisenthal, Probing the Equilibrium of Daunomycin to Double Stranded DNA Using Second Harmonic Generation, J. Phys. Chem. C 2013, 117, 15285.
  15. Yilei Li, Yi Rao, Kin Fai Mak, Yumeng You, Shuyuan Wang, Cory R. Dean, and Tony F. Heinz, Probing Symmetry Properties of Few-Layer MoS2 and h‑BN by Optical Second-Harmonic Generation, Nano. Lett. 2013, 13, 3329.
  16. Benjamin Doughty, Yi Rao, Samuel W. Kazer, Sheldon J.J. Kwok, Nicholas J. Turro, and Kenneth B. Eisenthal, Probing the relative orientation of molecules bound to DNA through controlled interferences using second-harmonic generation, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 110, 5756-5758 (2013).
  17. Yi Rao, Man Xu, Steffen Jockusch, Nicholas J. Turro and Kenneth B. Eisenthal, Dynamics of excited state electron transfer at a liquid interface using time-resolved sum frequency generation, Chem. Phys. Lett. 2012, 544, 1-6. Cover & Frontier article
  18. Yi Rao, Xia Li, Xue-gong Lei, Steffen Jockusch, Mike W. George, Nicholas J. Turro, and Kenneth B. Eisenthal, Observations of Interfacial Reorganization of Tailored Surfactants with Surface Tension and Sum Frequency Generation, J. Phys. Chem. C 2011, 115, 12064-12067.
  19. Yi Rao, Sung-Young Hong, Nicholas J. Turro, Kenneth B. Eisenthal, Molecular Orientational Distribution at Interfaces Using Second harmonic Generation J. Phys. Chem. C 2011, 115, 11678-11683.
  20. Yi Rao, Nicholas J. Turro, Kenneth B. Eisenthal, Solvation Dynamics of Coumarin 314 at the Air/Water Interface with Time-Resolved Sum Frequency Generation. J. Phys. Chem. C 2010, 114, 17703.