Professor Li conducts research to unveil structure and property relationships of condensed matter at atomic scale. His current focus is on diluted magnetic semiconductors (DMS). The research addresses two fundamental questions in condensed matter physics: 1) how are local magnetic moments created in semiconductors (e.g. graphene and GaN), and 2) how do these moments interact with each other to attain long range ferromagnetic ordering. The studies involve material growth using molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), atomic-scale characterization using spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy (SP-STM/STS), synchrotron-based x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD), and first principles calculations. The research is currently supported by grants from NSF and DOE.
Lian Li received his B.Sc. in Physics from Yunnan University, China in 1983, and M.Sc. in the same field from Tongji University, China in 1987, and his Ph.D. in Solid State Physics from Arizona State University in 1995. He then received a Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to conduct research at the Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University, Japan from 1995 to 1996. He held a staff research associate position at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1996 to 1999. He joined the UWM Physics department in 1999, where he currently holds the rank of Professor. In 2006, he was a visiting professor at the Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University, Japan.
Professor Li has received many awards including an E. W. Müller Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the International Field Emission Society (1996), a NSF CAREER Award (2001), and a UWM Research Foundation Research Award (2004).