Juewen Liu

Juewen Liu
Location: QNC 5604
Phone: 519-888-4567 x38919


Professor Liu's research group applies the fundamental principles of chemistry, physics, and biology to produce nanoscale materials, devices, and systems to understand basic sciences, advance technology, and impact medicine.

In particular, they are interested in using DNA and lipids as functional polymers and building blocks to interface with metal nanoparticles, nanoclusters, carbon-based materials and hydrogels. Liu and his group employ a wide range of synthetic, analytical, physical and biochemical techniques.

They are currently interested in the following research topics:

1. Aptamers, catalytic DNA, biointerface chemistry and nanotechnology
2. Targeted drug delivery and nanomedicine
3. Bioinorganic / Bioanalytical chemistry

Research Interests

  • Nanotechnology - the development and study of materials and devices on the nanoscale (1\/millionth of one millimetre)
  • Aptamer selection and characterization
  • Fundamental science behind DNA and lipids as functional polymers with the ability to self-assemble and interact with metals
  • Bioinorganic and bioanalytical chemistry
  • Contamination & Remediation: Water, Soil, Air
  • Drug Discovery, Design and Delivery
  • Bionanotechnology and Biosensors
  • Soft Matter
  • Devices and Analytical Methods
  • Nanomaterials
  • Legacies of Agriculture Pollutants


  • 2005 Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA
  • 2000 B.Sc., Chemistry, University of Science and Technology of China, China


  • 2022 Highly Cited Researchers™ list, Clarivate Analytics
  • 2019 Member of The College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, Royal Society of Canada (RSC)
  • 2018 W.A.E. McBryde Medal, Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC)
  • 2017 University Research Chair, University of Waterloo
  • 2015 Outstanding Performance Award, Faculty of Science, University of Waterloo
  • 2015 Voted most influential paper of the 2000s, Langmuir (2015 Surface Science of DNA Adsorption onto Citrate-Capped Gold Nanoparticles; Xu Zhang, Mark R. Servos, and Juewen Liu; DOI: 10.1021/la205036p.)
  • 2014 Fred Beamish Award, Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC)
  • 2011 Ontario Early Researcher Award, Province of Ontario
  • 2004 T. S. Piper Award (for the best thesis in inorganic chemistry), University of Illinois
  • 2003 Ullyot Fellowship, University of Illinois
  • 2002 Department of Chemistry Fellowship, University of Illinois
  • 2002 Biosensors & Bioelectronics Award Runner-up, University of Illinois

Professional Associations

  • Canadian Society for Chemistry

Affiliations and Volunteer Work

  • Member, Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN)
  • Member, The Water Institute
  • Member, Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology (CBB)


  • MNS 431 - Special Topics in Nano-Biomaterials
    • Taught in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • NE 202 - Nanomaterials and Environmental Impact; Nanotechnology Engineering Practice
    • Taught in 2018
  • NE 461 - Micro and Nano-instrumentation
    • Taught in 2019, 2021

* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Yibo Liu and Juewen Liu*, "Salt-toggled Capture Selection of Uric Acid Binding Aptamers", ChemBioChem, in press (2022)
  • Chenqi Niu, Chong Zhang* and Juewen Liu*, "Capture-SELEX of DNA Aptamers for Estradiol Specifically and Estrogenic Compounds Collectively", Environmental Science & Technology, 56, 17702–17711 (2022)
  • Chang Lu, Anand Lopez, Jinkai Zheng and Juewen Liu*, "Using the intrinsic fluorescence of DNA to characterize aptamer binding intrinsic fluorescence", Molecules, 27, 7809 (2022)
  • Sarah Labas and Juewen Liu*, "Interactions between Caffeine, Theophylline and Derivatives with Gold Nanoparticles and Implications for Aptamer-Based Label-Free Colorimetric Detection", ChemPlusChem, 87, e202200265 (2022)
  • Pengbo Zhang, Ke Qin, Anand Lopez, Zhengping Li,* and Juewen Liu*, "A General Label-free Fluorescent Aptamer Binding Assay Using Cationic Conjugated Polymers", Analytical Chemistry, 94, 15456–15463 (2022)
  • Mohamad Zandieh and Juewen Liu*, "Removal and Degradation of Microplastics Using the Magnetic and Nanozyme Activities of Bare Iron Oxide Nanoaggregates" Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 61, e202212013 (2022).
  • Yichen Zhao, Biwen Gao, Peihuan Sun, Jiawen Liu and Juewen Liu*, "Metal and pH-Dependent Aptamer Binding of Tetracyclines Enabling Highly Sensitive Fluorescence Sensing", Biosensors, 12, 717 (2022)
  • Anand Lopez and Juewen Liu*, "Probing metal-dependent G-quadruplexes using the intrinsic fluorescence of DNA", Chemical Communications, 58, 10225-10228 (2022)
  • Chang Lu, Mohamad Zandieh, Jinkai Zheng* and Juewen Liu*, "Reversible and Irreversible HAuCl4 Binding to DNA for Seeded Gold Nanoparticle Growth and Opposite DNA and Aptamers Colorimetric Sensing Outcomes", Particle and Particle Systems Characterization, 39, 2200121 (2022)
  • Po-Jung Jimmy Huang and Juewen Liu*, "A DNA Aptamer for Theophylline with Ultrahigh Selectivity Reminiscent of the Classic RNA Aptamer", ACS Chemical Biology, 17, 2121–2129 (2022)


  • Juewen Liu and Po-Jung Jimmy Huang, “Phosphorothioate DNAzymes Complexes and Use Thereof”, US patent 11,142,544 issued on October 12, 2021.
  • Yi Lu and Juewen Liu, “Nucleic acid based fluorescent sensor for copper detection”, US patent No. 8,409,800, issued on April 2, 2013.
  • Yi Lu and Juewen Liu, “Nucleic acid based fluorescent sensor for mercury detection”, US patent No. 8,367,416, issued on February 5, 2013.
  • Yi Lu and Juewen Liu, “Aptamer- and nucleic acid enzyme-based systems for simultaneous detection of multiple analytes”, US patent No. 8,058,415, issued on November 15, 2011.
  • Yi Lu and Juewen Liu, “Fluorescence based biosensor”, US patent No. 8,043,802, issued on October 15, 2011.
  • Yi Lu and Juewen Liu, “Fluorescence based biosensor”, US patent No. 7,906,320, issued on March 15, 2011.
  • Yi Lu and Juewen Liu, “Aptamer-based colorimetric sensor systems”, US patent No. 7,892,734, issued on February 22, 2011.
  • Debapriya Mazumdar, Juewen Liu, Yi Lu, “Lateral flow devices”, US patent No. 7,799,554, issued on September 21, 2010.
  • Yi Lu and Juewen Liu, “Nucleic acid biosensors”, US patent No. 7,612,185, issued on November 3, 2009.
  • Yi Lu and Juewen Liu, “Simple catalytic DNA biosensors for ions based on color changes”, US patent No. 7,534,560, issued on May 19, 2009.
  • Yi Lu and Juewen Liu, “Biosensors based on directed assembly of particles”, US Patent No. 7,485,419, issued on February 03, 2009.
  • Yi Lu and Juewen Liu “New fluorescence based biosensor”, US Patent No. 6,890,719, issued on May 10, 2005.

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