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Chen LI, PhD


Room Number: 2B323
Tel.: +43-1-4277-53439
Fax: +43-1-4277-9534

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Research Interests:

Investigating the atomic structure of defects including point defects, dislocations, grain boundaries, and interfaces in different materials with aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS). Correlating the defect structure with material properties. For instance, how individual defects affect the electrical property of photovoltaic materials for solar cells; how interfacial structures affect the elemental diffusion in both functional materials and natural minerals.

Example: STEM and EELS analysis reveal the atomic structure and chemical composition at grain boundaries in CdTe solar cells. Combining with electron-beam-induced current (EBIC) measurement and density-functional theory (DFT), a structure-property correlation has been achieved and the positive role of GBs has been explained fundamentally. (Li, et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 2014, 112, 156103)


Research Appointments and Education:

Department of Lithospheric, Vienna University, Austria
Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow (Host: Professor Rainer Abart) 05.2015–present
Postdoctoral Researcher (Host: Professor Rainer Abart) 10.2014–04.2015

The STEM Group, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA
Postdoctoral Researcher (Host: Professor Stephen J. Pennycook) 01.2012–09.2014
Exchange student (Advisor: Professor Juan-Carlos Idrobo) 09.2010–12.2011

Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
Ph.D. in Condensed Matter Physics (Advisor: Professor Hongjun Gao) 09.2005–12.2011

Department of Physics, Wuhan University, China
B.S. in Materials Physics (Advisor: Professor Huaming Zhou) 09.2001–07.2005


  • Robert P. Apkarian Memorial Scholarship, Microscopy Society of America (2013)
  • M&M Presidential Scholar Award, Microscopy & Microanalysis Conference (2013)
  • Willmarth Research Award, the 37th Meeting of the Appalachian Regional Microscopy Society (2012)
  • Director’s Award, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China (2009- 2010)
  • Excellent Student Award, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China (2008- 2009)
  • Scholarship for Outstanding Student, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China (2004- 2005)

Microscopy Skills:

  • Nion UltraSTEM 60-100 with 5th order aberration corrector and Gatan Enfina EELS spectrometer
  • Nion UltraSTEM 40-200 with 5th order aberration corrector and Gatan Enfinium EELS spectrometer
  • VG 501 and VG 603 STEM with 3rd order aberration corrector and Gatan Enfina EELS spectrometer
  • FEI Titan S 60-300 aberration corrected (S)TEM with Gatan Imaging Filter & EELS spectrometer
  • JEOL 2200FS field emission aberration-corrected (S)TEM with EDX
  • Zeiss Libra 200MC (S)TEM with electron gun monochromator and Omega filter
  • SEM-FIB: FEI DualBeam235 with EDX, FEI QuantaTM 3D with EDX, Zeiss DualBeam Auriga
  • Nano Mill (Fischione 1040) & Gentle Mill (Technoorg Linda)
  • Electron Beam Lithography (Raith 150)


Invited Presentations:

  • “Understanding Individual Defects in CdTe Solar Cells: From Atomic Structure to Electrical Activity”, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, 2015
  • “Understanding Individual Defects in CdTe Solar Cells: From Atomic Structure to Electrical Activity”, Wuhan University, China, 2015
  • “Understanding Individual Defects in CdTe Solar Cells: From Atomic Structure to Electrical Activity”, Microscopy & Microanalysis, Hartford, USA, 2014
  • “S-Te interdiffusion within grains and GBs in CdTe solar cells: direct structure property correlation through aberration-corrected STEM”, 40th IEEE photovoltaic conference, Denver, USA, 2014
  • “Electrical Activity of Defects in CdTe Solar Cells via Aberration-corrected STEM”, Loughbrough University, Loughbrough, UK, 2013


Selected Publications:

1. J. D. Poplawsky, C. Li, N. R. Paudel, W. Guo, Y. Yan and S. J. Pennycook, Nanoscale doping profiles within CdTe grain boundaries and at the CdS/CdTe interface revealed by atom probe tomography and STEM EBIC, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 2016, 150, 95-101

2. J. D. Poplawsky, C. Li, N. R. Paudel, W. Guo, Y. Yan and S. J. Pennycook, APT mass spectrometry and SEM data for CdTe solar cells, Data in Brief, 2016, 7, 779-785, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2016.03.042.

3. O. Ageeva, G. Habler, D. Topa, T. Waitz, C. Li, A. Pertsev, T. Griffiths, O. Zhilicheva and R. Abart. Plagioclase hosted Fe-Ti-oxide micro-inclusions in an oceanic gabbro-plagiogranite association from the Mid Atlantic ridge at 13°34' N. American Journal of Science,  2016, 316, 85-109

4. S. J. Pennycook, G. Duscher, R. Buczko, M. Kim, N. D. Browning, W. Zhou, C. Li, T. J. Pennycook, R. Ishikawa and S. T. Pantelides, Atomic Structure and Properties of Dislocations and Grain Boundaries. Reference Module in Materials Science and Materials Engineering, Elsevier, 2016, Current as of 28 October 2015, ISBN 9780128035818, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-803581-8.02927-1.

5. Y. Wang, L. Li, W. Yao, S. Song, J. T. Sun, J. Pan, X. Ren, C. Li, E. Okunishi, Y-Q. Wang, E. Wang, Y. Shao, Y. Y. Zhang, H-T. Yang, E. F. Schwier, H. Iwasawa, K. Shimada, M. Taniguchi, Z. Cheng, S. Zhou, S. Du, S. J. Pennycook, S. T. Pantelides, and H-J. Gao, Monolayer PtSe2, a New Semiconducting Transition-Metal-Dichalcogenide, Epitaxially Grown by Direct Selenization of Pt, Nanoletters. 2015, 15, 4013-4018

6. C. K. Narula, X. Yang, C. Li, A. R. Lupini, and S. J. Pennycook, A Pathway for the Growth of Core–Shell Pt–Pd Nanoparticles, J. Phys. Chem. C. 2015, 119, 25114-25121

7. Y. Yan, W. Yin, Y. Wu, T. Shi, N. Paudel, C. Li, J. Poplawsky, Z. Wang, J. Moseley, H. Guthrey, H. Moutinho, S. J. Pennycook, and M. Al-Jassim, Physics of grain boundaries in polycrystalline photovoltaic semiconductors, J. Appl. Phys. 2015, 117, 112807-1-6

8. C. Li, J. Poplawsky, N. Paudel, T. J. Pennycook, S. J. Haigh, M. Al-Jassim, Y. Yan and S. J. Pennycook, S-Te interdiffusion within grains and GBs in CdTe solar cells: direct structure property correlation through aberration-corrected STEM, IEEE Journal of Photovoltaic. 2014, 4, 1636-1643

9. J. D. Poplawsky, N. Paudel, C. Li, C. Parish, D. Leonard, Y. Yan, and S. J. Pennycook, Direct Imaging of Cl‐and Cu‐Induced Short‐Circuit Efficiency Changes in CdTe Solar Cells. Adv. Energy. Mater. 2014, 4: 1400454. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aenm.201400454.

10. C. Li, Y. Wu, J. Poplawsky, T. J. Pennycook, N. Paudel, W. Yin, S. J. Haigh, M. P. Oxley, A. R. Lupini, M. Al-Jassim, S. J. Pennycook, and Y. Yan, Grain-Boundary-Enhanced Carrier Collection in CdTe Solar Cells. Phys. Rev. Lett. 2014, 112, 156103 & Highlight as “Featured in Physics” in APS Physics & Release in IEEE Spectrum

11. A. Ng, J. Poplawsky, C. Li, S. J. Pennycook, S. Rosenthal, Direct Electronic Property Imaging of a Nanocrystal-based Photovoltaic Device by Electron Beam-Induced Current via Scanning Electron Microscopy. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2014, 5, 856

12. C. Li, Y. Wu, T. J. Pennycook, A. R. Lupini, D. N. Leonard, W. Yin, N. Paudel, M. Al-Jassim, Y. Yan and S. J. Pennycook, Carrier Separation at Dislocation Pairs in CdTe. Phys. Rev. Lett. 2013, 111, 096403

13. C. Li, J. Poplawsky, Y. Wu, A. R. Lupini, A. Mouti, D. N. Leonard, N. Paudel, K. Jones, W. Yin, M. Al-Jassim, Y. Yan and S. J. Pennycook, From atomic structure to photovoltaic properties in CdTe solar cells, Ultramicroscopy 2013, 134, 113

14. Y. Tian, H. L. Lu, J. F. Tian, C. Li, C. Hui, X. Z. Shi, Y. Huang, C. M. Shen, and H. J. Gao. Influence of Si Co-doping on electrical transport properties of magnesium-doped boron nanoswords. Appl. Phys. Lett. 2012, 100, 103112

15. R. Liu, S. M. Mahurin, C. Li, R. R. Unocisc, J. C. Idrobo, H. J. Gao, S. J. Pennycook and S. Dai. Dopamine as a Carbon Source: The Controlled Synthesis of Hollow Carbon Spheres and Yolk-Structured Carbon Nanocomposites. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2011, 50, 6799

16. C. Li, Y. Tian, D. K. Wang, X. Z. Shi, C. Hui, C. M Shen and H. J. Gao. Tuning field emission properties of boron nanocones with catalyst concentration. Chin. Phys. B 2011, 20, 037903

17. Y. Tian, C. M. Shen, C. Li, X. Z. Shi, Y. Huang and H. J. Gao. Synthesis of monodisperse CoPt3 nanocrystals and their catalytic behavior for growth of boron nanowires. Nano Research 2011, 4, 780

18. C. Li, Y. Tian, C. Hui, J. F. Tian, L. H. Bao, C. M. Shen and H. J. Gao. Field-emission properties of patterned boron nanocones. Nanotechnology 2010, 21, 325705 & Cover Page

19. C. Li, G. Li, C. M. Shen, C. Hui, J. F. Tian, S. X. Du, Z. Y. Zhang and H. J. Gao. Atomic-Scale Tuning of the Self-Assembled ZnO Microscopic Patterns: From Dendritic Fractals to Compact Island. Nanoscale 2010, 2, 2557 – 2560 & Back Cover Page & Highlight in Chemical Science, 01 September 2010

Department of Lithospheric Research
University of Vienna
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