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Zhao, Kun
Title: Professor
Address: 92 Weijin Road, Nan Kai District, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072
Office Phone:
Email: kunzhao@tju.edu.cn

Kun Zhao

Professor, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University

Email: kunzhao@tju.edu.cn



Ph.D.                Princeton University               Princeton, New Jersey           2001 - 2006

M.Sc. Eng.        Beijing University                  Beijing, China PR                 1998 - 2001

B.S.                   Beijing University                  Beijing, China PR                 1994 - 1998


Mission statement

Our research interests lie at the interface between biology and physics at the mesoscopic scale. The objective of my research is to understand and engineer the behavior of complex matter at this length. Toward this goal, our research is rooted on a multidisciplinary team-work with our group members (and collaborators) from Physics, Chemistry, Microbiology, Mathematics and Engineering. Currently we are studying self-organization in two model complex systems - complex fluids and microbial systems, by tracking particles and microbes using advanced optical microscopy techniques. Our research will have applications in broad areas like fabrication of metamaterial/biomaterial, treatment of bacterial infections, biofouling control, sustainable bioenergy and water remediation.


Research interests

Characterization and applications of microbial systems

        Bacterial imaging and tracking

        Bacterial self-organization and social interactions

        Cell-substrate interactions: bacterial-matrix interactions, biomechanics of biofilms

        Applications in biotechnology

                  Sustainable bioenergy, water quality control, biofilm control

Physical chemistry of soft materials

        Directed self-assembly of custom-shaped building blocks

        Membrane active peptide-based biomaterials

                  Antimicrobial peptides for resistant infections

                  Cell penetrating peptides for drug delivery

        Microrheology of complex fluids


Selected Publications

  • Yiwu Zong, Ke Chen, Thomas G. Mason and Kun Zhao*. “Vibrational modes and dynamic heterogeneity in a near-equilibrium 2D glass of colloidal kites”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 228003 (2018)

  • Kun Zhao and T. G. Mason*. “Assembly of Colloidal Particles in Solution”, Rep. Prog. Phys. DOI: 10.1088/1361-6633/aad1a7 (2018)

  • W. Zhang, Y. Ju, Y. Zong, H. Qi*, and Kun Zhao*. “In situ real-time study on dynamics of microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation at a single-cell level”, Environ. Sci. Technol. 52 (16), 9266-9276 (2018)

  • J. Zhang, J. He, C. Zhai, L. Ma, L. Gu* and Kun Zhao*. “Effects of PslG on the surface movement of Pseudomonas aeruginosa”, Appl. Environ. Microbiol., 84 (13) e00219-18 (2018)

  • C. K. Lee, J. D. Anda, A. E. Baker, R. R. Bennett,  Y. Luo,  E. Y. Lee,  J. A. Keefe,  J. S. Helali, J. Ma, Kun Zhao* , R. Golestanian*, G. A. O’Toole*, G. C. L. Wong*. Multigenerational memory and adaptive adhesion in early bacterial biofilm communities, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 115 (17) 4471-4476, (2018) 

                           In News:




  • A. Gelimson, Kun Zhao, C. K. Lee, W. T. Kranz, G. C. L. Wong, R. Golestanian. Multicellular Self-Organization of P. aeruginosa due to Interactions with Secreted Trails,Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 178102 (2016)

  • Kun Zhao* and T. G. Mason*. “Shape-designed frustration by local polymorphism in a near-equilibrium colloidal glass”, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 112(39), 12063-12068 (2015) 

  • Kun Zhao and T. G. Mason. “Self-organized chiral colloidal crystals of Brownian square crosses”, J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 26, 152101(2014)

Slected as cover paper for Volume 26, Issue 15, 16 April 2014

Selected in IOPselect

  • Kun Zhao, B. S. Tseng, B. Beckerman, F. Jin, M. L. Gibiansky, J. J. Harrison, E. Luijten, M. R. Parsek and G. C. L. Wong. “Psl trails guide exploration and microcolony formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms”, Nature 497, 388-391 (2013)

In News:



American Public Media's Marketplace Morning Report (Listen to the report for May 10, 2013 at the 6 minute 19 second mark)

Recommended by Faculty of 1000, http://f1000.com/prime/718008684

Also highlighted by Nature News & Views “Microbiology: Bacterial communities as capitalist economies”, Nature 497, 321-322 (2013)

  • Kun Zhao and T. G. Mason. “Twinning of rhombic colloidal crystals”, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 134, 18125-18131(2012) 

  • Kun Zhao, Uh-Joo Choe, D. T. Kamei and G. C. L. Wong. “Enhanced activity of cyclic transporter sequences driven by phase behavior of peptide-lipid complexes”, Soft Matter 8, 6430-6433 (2012)

  • Kun Zhao, R. Bruinsma, and T. G. Mason. “Local chiral symmetry breaking in triatic liquid crystals”, Nat. Commun. 3, 801(2012).

In News:


Also highlighted in Nature Physics 8, 442 (2012):


  • Kun Zhao, R. Bruinsma, and T. G. Mason. “Entropic Crystal-Crystal Transitions of Brownian Squares”, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 2684-2687(2011).

  • Kun Zhao and T. G. Mason. “Frustrated Rotator Crystals and Glasses of Brownian Pentagons”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 103, 208302(2009).

  • Kun Zhao and T. G. Mason. “Suppressing and enhancing depletion attractions between   surfaces roughened by asperities”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 148301(2008).

  • Kun Zhao and T. G. Mason. “Directing colloidal self-assembly through roughness-controlled depletion attractions”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 268301(2007). 

We have open positions for Master and PhD students! For students who are interested, please contact the PI at kunzhao@tju.edu.cn. 

Apllicants who have a physics, microbiology or computer science background are also very welcome!