Principal Investigator Jian Cui
The nanoPROBE lab

The most compelling characteristic of nanoscale materials is the emergence of different physical phenomena upon the shrinking of dimensions. We are interested in exploiting these unique properties of the nanoscopic world to develop a new toolkit that will help us understand, and perhaps ultimately control, biological systems.

We are a diverse team of researchers asking interdisciplinary questions, and engaging in multidisciplinary approaches, in the hopes of achieving transdisciplinary outcomes (transcending disciplines).(1)


(1) Choi et al. Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in health research, services, education and policy: 1. Definitions, objectives, and evidence of effectiveness. Clin. Invest. Med. 2006

Our Approach

Creative combinations of engineered nanomaterials and nano-optical detection allow us to develop new platforms for measuring, and potentially controlling, biological processes in previously unexplored ways.

Dr. Jian Cui

Principal Investigator, Nanomaterials and Nanophotonics

Jian Cui was born in China and moved to the United States at the age of 5. He received his B.S. in Chemistry from Stanford University, while performing undergraduate research in single-molecule biophysical chemistry with Professor W. E. Moerner (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2014). He then obtained his PhD in Physical Chemistry from MIT under Professor Moungi Bawendi, where he worked on a new optical method that combines interferometry and single-photon counting, to study the photoluminescence spectra of semiconductor nanoparticles. Subsequently, he pursued postdoctoral research in the Optical Materials Engineering Laboratory of Professor David Norris at ETH Zürich, working on the fabrication and characterization of miniaturized optical devices in the field of plasmonics and nanophotonics. 


Dr. Jian Cui

2018 - present
Principal Investigator Helmholtz Pioneer Campus, Helmholtz Zentrum München

2017 - 2018
Junior Group Leader - ETH Zürich

2014 - 2016
Postdoctoral Fellow – ETH Zurich


PhD in Physical Chemistry – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

BS in Chemistry – Stanford University, USA


ETH Zurich and Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship

Member of USA Delegation to the 63rd Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students

Materials Research Society Graduate Student Award (Silver)

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship


American Chemical Society
Materials Research Society


Dr. Nicolai Hoinka


Dr.rer.nat. in Physical Chemistry, University of Kassel, Germany
Focus: Applied Material Science
Doctoral Thesis: “Optical Amplification in Disordered Waveguiding Systems“

Dr. Jieying Zhou

Dr.rer.nat. in Chemistry, Leipzig University, Germany
Focus: Materials Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry
Doctoral Thesis: "Improved Sorptive Removal of Polar Organic Micropollutants from Water Using Surface Modified and Polarized Activated Carbons"


PhD Students

Ruyu Ma


MSc in Precision Instrument, Tsinghua University, China
Focus: Application of optical frequency combs
Master's thesis: "Angular velocity measurement with wide range based on dual-comb Sagnac interferometer"

Sapthagiri Sukumaran


MTech in Molecular Medicine, Amrita Center for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine, India
Focus: Stem cells in regenerative medicine
Master's Thesis: "Characterization and investigation of  Extracellular vesicles from chondrogenically-primed MSCs - an investigation on the effect of Oxygen tensions"

Lab Manager

Dr. Zhizi Jing

PhD Degree:  PhD in Neurosciences, University of Goettingen, Germany
Research area of PhD: Auditory Neurophysiology
Doctoral thesis: “Sound Encoding in the Mouse Cochlea: Molecular Physiology and Optogenetic Stimulation“


Serkan Aslan


Lara Jakob

Diplom student in Nanotechnology, TU Bergakademie Freiberg
Focus: Biosensing and Biomaterials

Korneel Ridderbeek

MSc in Applied Physics, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands
Focus: Bio/Nanoscience and Technology
Master's Thesis: "Hyperelastic Collapse Mechanism in an Easy-to-follow Framework for Soft Lithography Engineers"

Marius Maibach


Dr. Luciano Santino

PhD in Chemistry, Washington University in St. Louis, USA
Focus: Materials Chemistry
Doctoral Thesis: "Self-assembly of conducting polymer nano- and microstructures for energy storage"

Dr. Fangyuan Song

PhD in Chemistry, University of Zurich, Switzerland 
Focus: Inorganic Chemistry
Doctoral Thesis: "Synthetic and Catalytic Investigations of Homo- and Heterometallic Cobalt Cubanes as Water Oxidation Catalysts"

Christine Tiringer


MSc in Biology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany 
Focus: Neuroscience and Cell Biology
Master's Thesis: "iPSC-derived Human Astrocytes: Reprogramming into Neurons & Proteomic Analysis of LPS mediated Inflammation"

<p>We build optical setups and synthesize nanomaterials, which can be combined to create new tools for bio-sensing and bio-imaging.</p>

We build optical setups and synthesize nanomaterials, which can be combined to create new tools for bio-sensing and bio-imaging.

Our samples, whether they are nanoparticles or cells, are handled in controlled environments taking into account atmosphere, light exposure, and temperature.

<p>Our samples, whether they are nanoparticles or cells, are handled in controlled environments taking into account atmosphere, light exposure, and temperature.</p>

<p class="text-center">We carefully characterize our systems both experimentally and theoretically.</p>

We carefully characterize our systems both experimentally and theoretically.

Our tools can also be combined with other methods, providing a unique look into biological systems. This knowledge can be used to improve or develop more tools!

<p>Our tools can also be combined with other methods, providing a unique look into biological systems. This knowledge can be used to improve or develop more tools!</p>

Selected Publications

Direct probe of spectral inhomogeneity reveals synthetic tunability of single-nanocrystal spectral linewidths

Jian Cui, Andrew P Beyler, Lisa F Marshall, Ou Chen, Daniel K Harris, Darcy D Wanger, Xavier Brokmann, Moungi G Bawendi
Nature chemistry 5 (7), 602-606

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Evolution of the Single-Nanocrystal Photoluminescence Linewidth with Size and Shell: Implications for Exciton–Phonon Coupling and the Optimization of Spectral Linewidths

Jian Cui, Andrew P Beyler, Igor Coropceanu, Liam Cleary, Thomas R Avila, Yue Chen, José M Cordero, S Leigh Heathcote, Daniel K Harris, Ou Chen, Jianshu Cao, Moungi G Bawendi
Nano letters 16 (1), 289-296

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Deconstructing the photon stream from single nanocrystals: from binning to correlation

Jian Cui, Andrew P Beyler, Thomas S Bischof, Mark WB Wilson, Moungi G Bawendi
Chemical Society Reviews 43 (4), 1287-1310

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Compact high-quality CdSe–CdS core–shell nanocrystals with narrow emission linewidths and suppressed blinking

Ou Chen, Jing Zhao, Vikash P Chauhan, Jian Cui, Cliff Wong, Daniel K Harris, He Wei, Hee-Sun Han, Dai Fukumura, Rakesh K Jain, Moungi G Bawendi
Nature materials 12 (5), 445-451

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Observation of Electron Shake-Up in CdSe/CdS Core/Shell Nanoplatelets

Felipe Vicente Antolinez, Freddy T Rabouw, Aurelio A Rossinelli, Jian Cui, David J Norris
Nano Lett. 2019 19, 12, 8495–8502

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Reconsidering the design of planar plasmonic lasers: gain, gap layers, and mode competition

Marianne Aellen, Aurelio A Rossinelli, Robert C Keitel, Raphael Brechbühler, Felipe V Antolinez, Jian Cui, David J Norris
arXiv preprint arXiv:2101.05881

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Defect-Tolerant Plasmonic Elliptical Resonators for Long-Range Energy Transfer

Felipe Vicente Antolinez, Jan M Winkler, Patrik Rohner, Stephan JP Kress, Robert Christian Keitel, David K Kim, Patricia Marqués-Gallego, Jian Cui, Freddy T Rabouw, Dimos Poulikakos, David J Norris
ACS Nano 2019, 13, 8, 9048–9056

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Contact us

HPC contact Cui


Helmholtz Pioneer Campus
Helmholtz Zentrum München
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt (GmbH)

Ingolstädter Landstr. 1
85764 Neuherberg