Tongcang Li

NOTE: E-mail addresses end with

Tongcang Li
PHYS 91 Lab
(765) 496-0072
(765) 494-3020

Lab Homepage:


  • 2011: Ph.D. in Physics, The University of Texas at Austin, USA.
  • 2004: B.S. in Physics, University of Science and Technology of China


  • 08/2014 - : Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Purdue University
  • 08/2014 - : Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University
  • 08/2011 - 07/2014: Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
  • 06/2011 – 07/2011: Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of Texas at Austin.
  • 01/2005 – 05/2011: Graduate Research Assistant, The University of Texas at Austin.
  • 09/2004 – 12/2004: Teaching Assistant in Physics, The University of Texas at Austin.

Other Experiences

  • Reviewers for Nature Communications, PNAS, Physical Review Letters, Nano Letters, Laser & Photonics Reviews, New Journal of Physics, Optics Express, Nanotechnology, etc.

Awards and Honors

  • NSF CAREER Award, 2016
  • My paper "Science, 328, 1673 (2010)" on Brownian motion was included in the “Science in the Classroom”, an NSF-funded AAAS project for teaching high school and college students, 2013
  • Springer Theses Prize, Springer Science + Business Media, 2012
  • Outstanding Dissertation in Physics, Department of Physics, The University of Texas at Austin, 2011
  • Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad, China Scholarship Council, 2011
  • Jean Bennett Memorial Student Travel Grant, Optical Society of America Foundation, 2010
    (Only one student is awarded this grant per year. Citation: “In recognition of outstanding research excellence”.)
  • Lawrence C. Biedenharn Endowment for Excellence, University of Texas at Austin, 2010
  • Excellent Bachelor Thesis, University of Science and Technology of China, 2004.
  • Superexcellent Research Program of Undergraduate Students, University of Science and Technology of China, 2003.
  • Academic Excellence Awards: 2000-2003

Research Interests

Quantum optomechanics, quantum optics, laser trapping and cooling, nonequilibrium thermodynamics, and more


  • Tongcang Li, Fundamental Tests of Physics with Optically Trapped Microspheres (Springer Theses) (Springer, New York, 2013)

Selected Journal Publications

  • Thai M. Hoang, Yue Ma, Jonghoon Ahn, Jaehoon Bang, F. Robicheaux, Zhang-Qi Yin, Tongcang Li. "Torsional optomechanics of a levitated nonspherical nanoparticle", Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 123604 (2016) (Featured in Physics; PRL Editors' Suggestion)  

  • Thai M. Hoang, Jonghoon Ahn, Jaehoon Bang, Tongcang Li. "Electron spin control of optically levitated nanodiamonds in vacuum", Nature Communications 7, 12550 (2016)

  • Peng Zhang*, Tongcang Li*, Jie Zhu*, Xuefeng Zhu, Sui Yang, Yuan Wang, Xiaobo Yin, and Xiang Zhang. "Generation of acoustic self-bending and bottle beams by phase engineering", Nature Communications5, 4316 (2014) (* coleading authors)

  • S. Kheifets, A. Simha, K. Melin, Tongcang Li, M. G. Raizen. "Observation of Brownian motion in liquids at short times: instantaneous velocity and memory loss", Science, 343, 1493 (2014)

  • Peng Zhang, Yi Hu, Tongcang Li, Drake Cannan, Xiaobo Yin, Roberto Morandotti, Zhigang Chen, Xiang Zhang. Nonparaxial Mathieu and Weber accelerating beams. Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 193901 (2012) (cover story)

  • Tongcang Li, Z.-X. Gong, Z.-Q. Yin, H. T. Quan, X. Yin, P. Zhang, L.-M. Duan, X. Zhang, “Space-time crystals of trapped ions”, Phys. Rev. Lett., 109, 163001 (2012) (cover story)

  • Tongcang Li, Simon Kheifets, Mark G. Raizen, “Millikelvin cooling of an optically trapped microsphere in vacuum”, Nature Physics, 7, 527 (2011)

  • Tongcang Li, S. Kheifets, D. Medellin, and M. G. Raizen, “Measurement of the instantaneous velocity of a Brownian particle”, Science, 328, 1673 (2010)

  • K. Henderson, H. Kelkar, B. Gutierrez-Medina, T. C. Li, and M. G. Raizen. "Experimental Study of the Role of Atomic Interactions on Quantum Transport". Phys. Rev. Lett. 96, 150401 (2006) 

Last Updated: Oct 5, 2016 3:24 PM