Lei Li

Lei LiMy father was a coalminer. When I was a child he told me a lot of stories of how coal was created from ancient forests. The myths of the forest have impressed me since I was very young. I planted trees beside our house when I was a child. I played and grew up with these trees. Now I am studying in Maine, I enjoy the conifers and spending my pleasure time here.

My Research

The novel and powerful technique of Sum Frequency Spectroscopy (SFS) is being employed to study the surface structure of cellulose. SFS is a surface specific non-linear pulsed laser technique capable of providing detailed molecular level orientation & conformational information of interfacial species. Application of this technique to thin cellulose film structures may result in complex spectra which require de-convolution. According to our new co-propagating theoretical model for SF emission from thin film surfaces, the spectra may be analyzed to provide interfacial structural information of cellulose films. Such fundamental information as polar orientation, molecular conformation and average tilt angle of the adsorbents to the surface normal will be important to further research in many aspects of wood utilization, particularly as it impacts the newly emerging biorefinery.

In Other Words

For this project, we are using high energy lasers to study the surface structure of cellulose, the primary building block of trees. The lasers allow us to determine detail of the cellulose surface well beyond that which we can obtain by eye. In order to make sense of the data that we obtain, we are working initially with pure cellulose surfaces rather than with wood. With the information we gather, we can make educated decisions regarding how to change the cellulose surface to give it desired properties, or we can monitor changes to the surface in great detail.

Contact Information

5737 Jenness Hall, Room 200/303
Orono, ME 04469
Email: lei.li@umit.maine.edu