Associate Professor Gao Zhiqiang

B.Sc., 1985 and Ph.D., 1990, Wuhan University; Feinberg Postdoctoral Fellow, 1993–94, Weizmann Institute of Science; Lee Kuan Yew Postdoctoral Fellow 1994–1997, National University of Singapore.

Contact Information

Department of Chemistry, NUS 
3 Science Drive 3 
Singapore 117543 
Office: S5-02-15
Tel: (65)-6516-3887
Fax: (65)-6779-1691

Postdoctoral Fellow Positions available Immediately

We are seeking highly motivated individuals with a PhD in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering or related field, and a strong publication record in nanobiotechnology or renewable energy. If interested, please send your curriculum vitae and three references to

Research Interests

Electrochemistry, Nanomaterials, Nanobiotechnology, Renewable Energy, and Medical Devices.

Selected examples of our work

Figure 1Due to their high portability, electrochemical/electronic biosensors (E-biosensors) could allow nucleic acids to be tested at point-of-care. Despite the strong interest, the much needed sensitivity, reliability, and simplicity in E-biosensors remain to be realized. In this project, we are exploring nanotechnology-based E-biosensors together with novel sensing protocols that potentially meet the sensitivity requirement for nucleic acid detection in blood without any sample preparation and with significantly enhanced specificity and sensitivity. For example, our nanogap sensor array (J. Am. Chem. Soc., 131 (2009) 12211) appears to be a promising candidate. The sensing process uses a pair of micro-sized metal electrodes vertically stacked and separated by nanometer-thick insulating layer (nanogap), in combination with specially designed capture probes, to capture traces of the analyzed gene. The captured gene strands, after selective metallization, establish electron-conducting paths between the two metal electrodes across the nanogap, translating the presence of the gene strands into an electrical signal so that it can be conveniently measured by an ohmmeter (Fig. 1).In laboratory tests, the sensor array can unambiguously detect the copy number of the analyzed gene quantitatively and may obviate the need for PCR amplification.

Figure 2There has been increasing evidence showing that certain nanoparticles possess attractive enzyme-like activities. Because of the emerging fundamental and technical values of nanoparticulate enzyme mimics, it is imperative to improve the catalytic efficiencies and to develop novel enzyme mimics. In a recent paper (Chem. Eur. J., 18 (2012) 8906), we showed that RuO2 nanoparticles exhibit excellent bienzyme-like activities (Fig. 2). Our research activities currently revolve around the development of VIIIB metal-based nanoparticulate enzyme mimics with specific activities equivalent to or better than those of natural enzymes; and the establishments of activation centers, catalytic mechanism, and the nanoparticle structure-catalytic performance relationship.


  1. US Patent 7,902,362  Threading Intercalators.
  2. US Patent 7,655,404  Method and Device for Detection of Nucleic Acids and/or Polypeptides.
  3. US Patent 7,576,205  Detectable Threading Intercalator.
  4. US Patent 7,563,588  Electrically Non-conductive, Nanoparticulate Membrane.
  5. US Patent 7,511,142  Mediator-Modified Biomolecules for Use in Electrochemical Determination of Analyte.
  6. US Patent 7,462,720  Determination of Nucleic Acid Using Electrocatalytic Intercalators.
  7. US Patent 7,479,557  DNA Threading Intercalators.
  8. US Patent 7,030,257  Synthesis of Metallane Derivatives.
  9. US Patent 7,052,591  Electrodeposition of Redox Polymer and Co-electrodeposition of Redox Polymer/ Biomolecule Composite Membranes (Licensed to Abbott Laboratories).

Representative Publications (*Corresponding author)

  • W. Shen, H. M. Deng and Z. Q. Gao*, Gold Nanoparticle-Enabled Real-Time Ligation Chain Reaction for Ultrasensitive Detection of DNA, Journal of the American Chemical Society, (2012) in press, DOI: 10.1021/ja306265n.
  • H. M. Deng, W. Shen, Y. F. Peng, X. J. Chen, G. S. Yi and Z. Q. Gao*, Nanoparticulate Peroxidase/Catalase Mimetic and Its Application, Chemistry - A European Journal, 18 (2012) 8906–8911.
  • Y. F. Peng, X. J. Chen, G. S. Yi and Z. Q. Gao,* Mechanism of the Oxidation of Organic Dyes in the Presence of Nanoceria, Chemical Communications, 47 (2011) 2916–2918.
  • Y. F. Peng and Z. Q. Gao,* Amplified Detection of MicroRNA Based on RuO2 Nanoparticle-Initiated Deposition of an Insulating Film, Analytical Chemistry, 83 (2011) 820–827.
  • Y. B. Zu, A L. Ting, G. S. Yi and Z. Q. Gao,* Sequence-Selective Recognition of DNA under Low Salt Conditions by Using Nanoparticle Probes, Analytical Chemistry, 83 (2011) 4090–4094.
  • S. Roy, J. H. Soh and Z. Q. Gao,* A Microfluidic-Assisted Microarray for Ultrasensitive Detection of MicroRNA under an Optical Microscope, Lab on a Chip, 11 (2011) 1886–1894.
  • G. S. Yi, Y. F. Peng and Z. Q. Gao,* Strong red Emitting Near Infrared-to-Visible Upconversion Fluorescent Nanoparticles, Chemistry of Materials, 23 (2011) 2729–2734.
  • Y. B. Zu, A. L. Ting and Z. Q. Gao*, Visualizing Low-Level Point Mutations: Enzyme-like Selectivity Offered by Nanoparticle Probes, Small, 7 (2011) 306–310.
  • Y. F. Peng, G. S. Yi and Z. Q. Gao*, A MicroRNA Biosensor Based on Ruthenium Oxide Nanoparticle-Initiated Polymerization of Aniline, Chemical Communications, 46 (2010) 9131–9133.
  • X. J. Chen, S. Roy, Y. F. Peng and Z. Q. Gao,* Electrical Sensor Array for PCR-Free Messenger RNA Expression Profiling, Analytical Chemistry, 82 (2010) 5958–5964.
  • S. Roy, X. J. Chen, M. H. Li, Y. F. Peng, F. Anariba and Z. Q. Gao*, Mass-Produced Nanogap Sensor Arrays for Ultrasensitive Detection of DNA, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 131 (2009) 12211–12217.
  • G. J. Zhang,* G. Zhang, J. H. Chua, R. E. Chee, E. H. Wong, A. Agarwal, K. D. Buddharaju, N.Singh, Z.Q. Gao and N. Balasubramanian, DNA Sensing by Silicon Nanowire: Charge Layer Distance Dependence, Nano Letters, 8 (2008) 1066–1070.
  • Y. Fan, X. Chen, C. Tung, J. Kong and Z. Q. Gao*, Detection of MicroRNAs Using Target-Guided Formation of Conducting Polymer Nanowires in Nanogaps, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 129 (2007) 5437–5443.
  • Z. Q. Gao*, A. Agarwal, A. D. Trigg, N. Singh, C. Fang, C. H. Tung, Y. Fan, K. D. Buddharaju and J. M. Kong, Silicon Nanowire Arrays for Ultrasensitive Label-Free Detection of DNA, Analytical Chemistry, 79 (2007) 3291–3297. 
  • Y. Fan, X. T. Chen, J. M. Kong, C. Tong and Z. Q. Gao*, Direct Detection of DNA By Tagging Phosphates on Their Backbones with Nanoparticles, Angewandte Chemie, International Edition, 46 (2007) 2051–2054. 
  • Z. Q. Gao*, S. Rafea and L. Lim, Detection of Nucleic Acids Using Enzyme-Catalyzed Template-Guided Deposition of Polyaniline, Advanced Materials, 19 (2007) 602–606.