Researcher biography

The research in my group focuses on controlled preparation of layered double hydroxide (LDH) materials, calcium phosphate (CaP) nanoparticle and their applications in biomedicine and plant protection, including: (1) controlled preparation of LDH and CaP nanoparticles with the desirable size and size distribution. In some cases, these particles need to be homogeneously dispersed in aqueous solution; (2) in vitro and in vivo cellular delivery vehicles of anionic drugs, such as some pharmaceutical drugs, oligonucleotides, DNA/RNA segment, heparin and proteins for the treatment of cancer diseases, neuronal diseases and cardiovascular diseases; (3) development of clay nanomaterials into effective adjuvant of protein vaccines; (4) LDH nanoparticles for delivery of dsDNA and relevant pesticides for plant protection. In addition, our group is actively developing fluorescence probes in molecular and nanoparticle forms for imaging and diagnosis of diseases in animals and plants.

Brief bio

Dr Zhi Ping (Gordon) Xu is an expert in synthesis, characterisation and applications of anionic clays, i.e. layered double hydroxides (LDH) and related materials (CaP). In particular, Dr Xu has developed a reliable method to control LDH nanoparticles in 30-300 nm with a narrow particle size distribution and homogeneously disperse these nanoparticles in a stable suspension, and has also led a team to investigate the cellular drug(gene) delivery using LDH nanoparticles.

Since the time of his PhD at the National University of Singapore in 1996, he has carried out extensive research on the oxidation synthesis of co-containing LDH materials and their applications in environmental remediation. Later at the University of North Texas as a postdoctoral research scientist, he conducted comprehensive studies on the growth behaviour of organo-LDH hybrid materials and their applications in water purification. As an Australian Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Fellow at the University of Queensland since 2003, he has developed an effective and patented method to tailor LDH nanoparticle size and control the particle size distribution in a narrow range, and investigated LDH nanovehicles for effective drug/gene delivery, which demonstrates a high potential for an efficient drug/gene delivery vector based on LDH nanomaterials. During this period, he has established a solid platform for the delivery of inorganic nanoparticles into various mammalian cells in terms of the research experience and methodologies.

Since 1997, he has published nearly 250 papers in high impact international journals and books, including Nature Plants, Adv. Mater., Nanolet., J. Am. Chem. Soc., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., ACS Nano, Adv. Funct. Mater., Biomaterials, Small, Chem. Mater., J. Phys. Chem. B & C, and J. Mater. Chem. and established his international reputation in this field. He has been the board members of six journals.  He has been invited as a referee by more than 25 international journals and invited to guest-edit two international journals. His papers have been cited over 10,000 times with the H-index of 54 (Feb 2019).


Current projects (all in health care)

  • Development of LDH-polymer composite for siRNA delivery in tumour treatment
  • Preparation of SiO2 dot-coated LDH for drug/gene/protein delivery (Li Li, PD fellow)
  • Development of nanoemulsions for anti-oxidant/antimicrobial delivery for animal health (Li Li, PD fellow)
  • Development of mixed oxides for detection and therapy of cardiovascular diseases (Dr Hang Ta)
  • Development of new molecular and nanoparticle-based biosensors for imaging and detection of diseases and cancer tissues (Dr Run Zhang, DECRA Fellow)
  • Engineering LDH NPs for dsRNA delivery for plant protection (Peng Li)
  • Modification of LDH NPs for in vivo gene/drug delivery and imaging (Bei Li, PhD student)
  • Incorporation of carbonate into lipid-coated CaP nanoparticles for enhanced delivery in tumour treatment (Yilun Wu, PhD student)
  • Development of acid-soluble hydrophobic drug or drug-containing nanoparticles for enhanced delivery in vitro and in vivo (Fatemeh Movahedi, PhD student)
  • Development of solid lipid nanoparticles for enhanced oral delivery (Pei Cao, PhD student) 
  • Target theranositic nanoplatform development (Jie Liu, PhD)
  • pH-responsive polymer-coated LDH nanoplatform for enhanced induction of cancer immunotherapy (Ms Jianping Liu, PhD)

Top Ten Publications 

1. Zhang, R; Liang, L; Meng, Q; Zhao, J; Ta, H; Li, L; Zhang, Z; Sultanbawa, Y; Xu, ZP: “Responsive Upconversion Nanoprobe for Background-Free Hypochlorous Acid Detection and Bioimaging”. Small, 15, 1803712, 2019.

2. Chen, WY; Zuo, HL; Li, B; Duan, C; Zhang, B; Rolfe, R; Mahony, TJ; Xu, ZP: “Clay nanoparticles elicit long-term immune responses by forming biodegradable depots for sustained antigen stimulation”, Small 14, e1704465, 2018

3. Mitter, N; Worrall, EA; Robinson, K; Li, P; Jain, RG; Taochy, C; Fletcher, SJ; Carroll, BJ; Lu, GQ; Xu ZP: “Clay nanosheets for stable delivery of RNA interference as a topical application to protect plants against viruses”. Nature Plants3, 16207, 2017.

4. Li, B; Gu, Z; Kurniawan, N; Chen, WY; Xu ZP: “Manganese-based Layered Double Hydroxide Nanoparticle as a T1-MRI Contrast Agent with Ultrasensitive pH Response and High Relaxivity”. Adv. Mater. 29, 201700373, 2017.

5.  Liang, XW; Wang, HL; Zhu, Y; Zhang, R; Cogger, VC; Liu, X; Xu, ZP; Roberts, MS; Grice, JE: “Short- and long-term tracking of anionic ultra-small nanoparticles in kidney”. ACS Nano10, 387-395, 2016. 

6. Li, L; Gu, W; Chen, J; Chen, W; Xu, ZP: “Co-delivery of siRNAs and Anti-cancer Drugs Using Layered Double Hydroxide Nanoparticles”. Biomaterials35, 3331-3339, 2014.

7. Zhu, Y; Li, Z; Chen, M; Cooper, H; Lu, GQ (Max); Xu, ZP: “Synthesis of Robust Sandwich-Like SiO2@CdTe@SiO2 Fluores-cent Nanoparticles for Cellular Imaging". Chem. Mater. 24, 421-423, 2012. 

8. Ladewig, K; Niebert, M; Xu, ZP; Gray, P; Lu, GQ Max: “Efficient siRNA delivery to mammalian cells using layered double hydroxide nanoparticles”. Biomaterials 31, 1821-1829, 2010. 

9. Gu. Z; Thomas. AC; Xu. ZP; Campbell. JH; Lu. GQ: “In vitro sustained release of LMWH from MgAl-layered double hydroxide nanohybrids ”. Chem. Mater. 20, 3715-3722, 2008. 

10. Xu, ZP; Stevenson, G; Lu, CQ; Lu, GQ Max; Bartlett, PF; Gray, PP: “Stable suspension of layered double hydroxide nanoparticles in aqueous solution”. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 128, 36-37, 2006.


Research Fellows and Post-doctoral Fellows

Dr Hang Ta, Dr Li Li (QLD Adv Fellow)

Dr Run Zhang (DECRA), Dr Peng Li

PhD Students

Ms Bei Li, Yilun Wu, Fatemeh Movahedi, Pei Cao, Jianping Liu, Luyao Sun

Mr Yanheng Wu, Zhixian Lim, Bing Sun, Guanyu Hao, Alex Nilson, Jie Liu, Yaw Opoku-Damoah, Khuram Shahzad


Mr Zhi Qi

Completed PhD and MPhil students

2018   Dr Elizabeth Worrall

2017   Dr Shiyu Yan, Dr Weiyu Chen, and Dr Jie Tang

2016   Dr Huali Zuo, Dr Haolu Wang

2015   Dr Xiaowen Liang, Dr Geoffrey Lawrence

2014   Dr Haiyan Dong, Ms Shasha Jiang (MPhil)

2013   Dr Peng Li, Dr Yian (Annie) Zhu, Dr Tuan Nguyen

2011   Dr Zi Gu

2010   Dr Yunyi Wong, Dr Anthony Musumeci

2009   Dr Katherina Ladewig

2008   Ms Xin Jin (MPhil)

Student projects available

  • Optimisation of nanoemulsion and liposome for drug delivery and tracking
  • Development of CaP-based drug nanoparticles
  • Development of hybrid nanoplatforms for combinational therapy of cancers
  • Development of polymer-LDH composite adjuvants
  • Control preparation of LDH-2,4-D nanoparticles with very small size
  • Investigation of nanoparticle-plant cell interactions
  • Development of molecular and nanoparticle biosensors for imaging and detection of diseases