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Lian Yu, PhD

Pharmaceutical Sciences and Chemistry

We study the solid materials of organic molecules important for pharmaceutical formulations and electronic devices. These materials contain complex molecules assembled by many types of intermolecular forces. They exhibit physical phenomena unknown for hard materials and offer new opportunities for materials engineering.

(1) Crystal polymorphism. Polymorphism is the ability of the same molecule to crystallize in different structures and an important phenomenon for all crystalline materials because polymorphs have different properties. Some questions being investigated include: Why do some molecules have many polymorphs and others seemingly none? Why do polymorphs nucleate and grow from the same liquid at very different rates? How does a liquid/vapor interface influence crystallization and polymorph selection?

(2) Amorphous solids and glasses. Glasses are remarkable materials with solid-like strength and liquid-like uniformity with applications in pharmaceutics, electronics, and bio-preservation. We study the stability of glasses against crystallization, the role of surface mobility in glass crystallization and manufacturing, and the ability to create glasses with tunable liquid-crystalline order. We are developing amorphous pharmaceuticals that are stable in hot and humid environments for global health applications.

Professional Interests: Crystallization, polymorphism, amorphous solids, solid-state chemistry.


  • David Grant Research Achievement Award in Physical Pharmacy, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, 2011
  • Invited Visiting Professor, University of Manchester, UK, 2009.
  • Elected Fellow, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, 2006.
  • Lilly Research Laboratories President's Award, 2003.


  • PhD Physical Chemistry - Ohio State University
  • BS Chemistry - Peking University

Pharmaceutical Sciences 420. Physicochemical Principles of Drug Formulation and Delivery (DPH1)

    Applications of physicochemical principles to pharmaceutical systems

Pharmaceutical Sciences 773. Molecular Solids (graduate course)

    This course describes the science and technology of solid materials with emphasis on molecular solids. Molecular solids have important applications in medicine, food, energetic materials, and organic electronics. They have strong intramolecular bonds but weak intermolecular forces and contain non-spherical, chiral, and flexible molecules, making them fundamentally different from inorganic and polymeric materials. The course covers the structure, synthesis, thermodynamics, dynamics, and transformation of molecular solids and their applications.

Pharmaceutical Sciences 780. Introduction to Pharmaceutical Science (graduate course)

Highlighted Publications:
  1. Neusaenger, A.; Yao, X.; Yu, J.; Kim, S.; Hui, H.-W.; Huang, L.; Que, C.; Yu, L. Amorphous Drug-Polymer Salts: Maximizing proton transfer to enhance stability and release. Mol. Pharmaceutics 2022, in press. DOI: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.2c00942.
  2. Yao, X.; Borchardt, K. A.; Gui, Y.; Guzei, I. A.; Zhang, G. G. Z.; Yu, L. Surface-enhanced crystal nucleation and polymorph selection in amorphous posaconazole. J. Chem. Phys.2022, 157, 194502.
  3. Serezhkin, V. N.; Yu, L.; Savchenkov, A. V. ROY: Using the Method of Molecular Voronoi−Dirichlet Polyhedra to Examine the Fine Features of Conformational Polymorphism. Growth Des. 2022, 22, 6717–6725.
  4. Wu, H.; Yao, X.; Hao, H.; Yu, Lian. Surface Enhancement of Crystal Nucleation in Amorphous Acetaminophen. Crystal Growth and Design, 2022, 22, 5598–5606.
  5. Li, Y.; Yu, J.; Tan, X.; Yu, Lian. Influence of moisture and surfactants on surface dynamics of amorphous drugs: A concentration-temperature superposition principle. Mol. Pharm., 2022, 19, 2962–2970.
  6. Yao, X.; Liu, Q.; Wang, B.; Guzei, I.; Aristov, M. M.; Shi, C.; Zhang, G. G. Z.; Yu, L. Anisotropic Molecular Organization at a Liquid/Vapor Interface Promotes Crystal Nucleation with Polymorph Selection. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 26, 11638–11645.
  7. Hernández Espinell, José; Toro, Veronica; Yao, Xi Yu, Lia López-Mejías, Vilmalí; Stelzer, Torsten. Solvent-mediated Polymorphic Transformations in Molten Polymers: The Account of Acetaminophen. Mol. Pharm. 2022, in press
  8. Yao, X.; Benson, E. G.; Stelzer, T.; Zhang, G. G. Z.; Yu, Lian. Effect of Surfactants on Crystal Nucleation and Growth of Amorphous Nifedipine. Mol. Pharm. 2022, in press. Special Mol. Pharm and Crystal Growth Des. Issue “Crystallizing the Role of Solid-State Form in Drug Delivery”.
  9. Yu, J.; Yao, X.; Que, C.; Huang, L.; Hui, H.-W.; Gong, Y.; Yu, Lian. Kinetics of Surface Enrichment of a Polymer in a Glass-Forming Molecular Liquid. Mol. Pharm., in press.
  10. Gui, Y.; Huang, C.; Shi, C.; Stelzer, T.; Zhang, G. G. Z.; Yu, Lian. Polymorphic Selectivity in Crystal Nucleation. J. Chem. Phys. 2022, 156, 144504.
  11. Ajay Annamareddy; Manel Molina-Ruiz; Donez Horton-Bailey; Frances Hellma Yuhui Li; Lian Yu; Dane Morgan. Compositional Trends in Surface Enhanced Diffusion in Lead Silicate Glasses. Computational Materials Science 2022, 206, 111304.
  12. Li, Y.; Bishop, C.; Ediger, M. D.; Yu, Lian. Surface diffusion of a glassy discotic organic semiconductor and the surface mobility gradient of molecular glasses. J. Chem. Phys. 2022, 156, 094710.
  13. Yu, Junguang; Chen, Zhenxua Teerakapibal, Rattavut; Benmore, Chri Richert, Ranko; Yu, Lian. Structure of Glasses Created by Multiple Kinetic Arrests. J. Chem. Phys. 2022, 156, 084504.
  14. Yu, J.; Li, Y.; Yao, X.; Que, C.; Huang, L.; Hui, H.-W.; Gong, Y.; Qian, F.; Yu, Lian. Surface Enrichment of Surfactants in Amorphous Drugs: An X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy Study. Mol. Pharmaceutics 2022, 19, 654−660.
  15. Li, Y.; Annamareddy, A.; Morgan, D.; Cao, C.; Perepezko, J.; Ediger, M.D.; Voyles, P.; Yu, L. Surface diffusion is controlled by bulk fragility across all glass types. Phys. Rev. Lett. 2022, 128, 075501.
  16. Gui, Y.; Jin, Y.; Ruan, S.; Sun, G.; López-Mejías, V.; Yu, Lian. Crystal energy landscape of nifedipine by experiment and computer prediction. Cryst. Growth Des. 2022, 22, 1365−1370.
  17. Zhenxuan Chen, Chengbin Huang, Xin Yao, Chris J. Benmore, Lian Yu. Structure of supercooled glycerol, xylitol, and D-sorbitol by synchrotron X-ray scattering and relation to dynamic fragility. J. Chem. Phys. 2021, 155, 244508.
  18. Xin Yao, Amy Neusaenger, Lian Yu. Perspective: Amorphous Drug-Polymer Salts. Pharmaceutics 2021, 13 (8), 1271.
  19. Xin Yao, Soojin Kim, Yue Gui, Zhenxuan Chen, Junguang Yu, Lian Yu. Amorphous drug-polymer salt with high stability under tropical conditions and fast dissolution: The case of lumefantrine-PAA. J. Pharm. Sci. 2021, 110, 3670−3677.
  20. Zhenxuan Chen, Yue Gui, Kai Cui, J. R. Schmidt, and Lian Yu. Prolific Polymorph Generator ROY in Its Liquid and Glass: Two Conformational Populations Mirroring the Crystalline-State Distribution. J. Phys. Chem. B 2021, 125, 10304−10311.
  21. Chen, Zhenxua Bishop, Camille; Thoms, Erik; Bock, Harald; Ediger, Mark; Richert, Ranko; Yu, Lian. Controlling columnar order in a discotic liquid-crystal by kinetic arrest of disc tumbling. Chem. Mater. 2021, 33, 12, 4757–4764.     
  22. Ajay Annamareddy, Yuhui Li, Lian Yu,  Paul M. Voyles, and  Dane Morgan. Factors correlating to enhanced surface diffusion in metallic glasses. J. Chem. Phys. 154, 104502 (2021);           
  23. Yue Gui, Xin Yao, Ilia A. Guzei, Michael M. Aristov, Junguang Yu, and Lian Yu. A Mechanism for Reversible Solid-State Transitions Involving Nitro Torsion. Chem. Mater. 2020, 32, 18, 7754–7765.
  24. Yue Gui, Erin C. McCann, Xin Yao, Yuhui Li, Karen J. Jones, and Lian Yu. Amorphous Drug–Polymer Salt with High Stability under Tropical Conditions and Fast Dissolution: The Case of Clofazimine and Poly(acrylic acid). Mol. Pharmaceutics 2021, 18, 1364–1372.
  25. Barták, J.; Málek, J.; Bagchi, K.; Ediger, M. D.; Li, Y.; Yu, L. Surface mobility in amorphous selenium and comparison with organic molecular glasses. J. Chem. Phys. 154, 074703 (2021).
  26. Changlin Yao, Ilia A Guzei, Yingdi Jin, Lian Yu. Polymorphism of Piroxicam: New Polymorphs by Melt Crystallization and Crystal Structure Prediction. Cryst. Growth Des. 2020, 20, 12, 7874–7881. DOI:
  27. Xiao Ou, Xizhen Li, Haowei Rong, Lian Yu, and Ming Lu. A general method for cultivating single crystals from melt microdroplets. Chem. Commun. 2020, 56, 9950-9953.
  28. Yue Gui, Xin Yao, Ilia A. Guzei, Michael M. Aristov, Junguang Yu, and Lian Yu*. A Mechanism for Reversible Solid-State Transitions Involving Nitro Torsion. Chem. Mater., 32, 18, 7754–7765.
  29. Xizhen Li, Xiao Ou, Haowei Rong, Siyong Huang, Jonas Nyman, Lian Yu, Ming Lu. The Twelfth Solved Structure of ROY: Single Crystals of Y04 Grown from Melt Microdroplets. Cryst. Growth Des. 2020, 20, 11, 7093–7097.
  30. Li, Yuhui; Zhang, Wei; Bishop, Camille; Huang, Chengbi Ediger, M. D.; Yu, Lian. Surface diffusion in glasses of rod-like molecules posaconazole and itraconazole: Effect of interfacial molecular alignment and bulk penetration. Soft Matter 2020, 16, 5062-5070.
  31. Bishop, C.; Yu, L.; Ediger, M. D. Fytas, G. Extreme Elasticity Anisotropy in Molecular Glasses. Advanced Functional Materials 2020, 30, 2001481.
  32. Lu, Xingyu; Huang, Chengbi Li, Mingyue; Skomski, Daniel; Xu, Wei; Yu, Lia Byrn, Stephe Templeton, Alle Su, Yongchao. Molecular Mechanism of Crystalline-to-Amorphous Conversion of Pharmaceutical Solids from 19F Magic Angle Spinning NMR. J. Phys. Chem. B 2020, 124, 5271–5283. Cover art.
  33. Chen, Z.; Yu, J.; Teerakapibal, R.; Meerpoel, L.; Richert, R.; Yu, Lian. Organic glasses with tunable liquid-crystalline order through kinetic arrest of end-over-end rotation: The case of saperconazole. Soft Matter 2020, 16, 2025 – 2030.
  34. Yao, X.; Huang, C.; Benson, E. G.; Shi, C.; Zhang, G. G. Z.; Yu, Lian Effect of polymer solute on crystal nucleation in glass-forming molecular liquids: Equal suppression of nucleation and growth. Cryst. Growth Des. 2020, 20, 237−244.
  35. Bishop, C.; Delongcham Toney, M. F.; Yu, Lia Ediger, M. D. Vapor deposition of a nonmesogen prepares highly structured organic glasses. PNAS 2019, 116, 21421–21426.
  36. Gui, Y.; Chen, Y.; Yu, L. Improving Stability and Dissolution of Amorphous Clofazimine by Nano-Coating. Pharm. Res. 2019, 36:67.
  37. Li, Yuhui; Yu, J.; Hu, S.; Chen, Z.; Sacchetti, M.; Sun, C. C.; Yu, Lian. Polymer nanocoating of amorphous drugs for improving stability, dissolution, powder flow, and tabletability: The case of chitosan-coated indomethacin. Mol. Pharm. 2019, 16, 1305−1311.
  38. Ediger, M. D.; de Pablo, J. J.; Yu, Lian. Anisotropic vapor-deposited glasses: Hybrid organic solids. Acc. Chem. Res. 2019, 52, 407-414.