Luyao Zou

Graduate Student

Emory University

Office: 131 Atwood Hall

1515 Dickey Drive

Atlanta, GA 30322-2210

phone: 404-727-6573

fax: 404-727-6586

Educational Background

B.S. in Chemistry from Fudan University (2012)
Graduate student in Chemistry from Emory University

Current Research

My current research focuses on small radicals and ions that have astrochemical interest. In the insterstellar medium (ISM), cosmic-ray readily ionizes atomic hydrogen and forms H3+. H3+ is an important protonation source and further produces protonated species through ion-molecular reactions. Many protonated species, for example N2H+ and HCO+, have strong transitions in the mm-submm wavelength range, and play important roles in both observational astronomy and astrochemistry reaction networks. In addition to protonated species, radicals are also important in both gas-phase chemistry and gas-grain chemistry. Some of them (i.e. methoxy) has been detected in space.

The goal of my project is to prepare these unstable species in terrestial conditions through high-voltage discharge of appropriate precursor molecules and then characterize their rotational spectra using mm-submm spectroscopy. The spectra taken in this lab are directly comparable to astronomical observations, which is especially valuable for potential detection of these species in space. From spectroscopic data, it is also possible to retrieve benchmark structural/chemical information of the target molecules, which sometimes are challenging systems for theory.

The experimental techniques I apply are jet-cooled expansion discharge source for the production of rotationally cooled radicals, and liquid nitrogen cooled hollow cathode for the production of protonated species. Multipass optical alignment is used to increase sensitivity. Fast-sweep strategy and mw(mm)-mm double resonance are also applied to fasten data acquistion and simplify spectral assignment.

The current molecules I am working on are weakly bounded radical HO3 & DO3, and isotopologues of H3+ and possibly H5+.

In addition to laboratory work, I also like coding. I currently maintain the GOBASIC code (see below for the paper). Please fork my personal GitHub repository at

I am an active public science blogger on, a question-and-answer based Chinese online community. My personal interest also extends to photography, classical music, East Asian and Greek literature and more.

Refereed Publications

  • Zou L. and Widicus Weaver S. L. "Direct Measurement of Additional Ar–H2O Vibration-Rotation-Tunneling Bands in the Millimeter-Submillimeter Range", J. Mol. Spectrosc., 2016, 324, 12. (View Paper)
  • Zou L., Hays B. and Widicus Weaver S. L. "Weakly Bound Clusters in Astrochemistry? Millimeter and Sub-millimeter Spectroscopy of trans-HO3 and Comparison to Astronomical Observations." J. Phys. Chem. A, 2016, 120, 657. (View Paper)
  • Radhuber M. L., Zou L., Sanders J. L. and Widicus Weaver S. L., "Global Optimization and Broadband Analysis Software for Interstellar Chemistry (GOBASIC)." Astron. & Astrophys., 2016, 585, A23. (View Paper) (Program Code
  • Wehres N., Cross T., Rad M. L., Zou L., Carroll A. and Widicus Weaver S. L., "A Hollow Cathode THz Spectrometer for the Study of Astrophysical Ions and Radicals: Benchmarking with N2H+ and Extended Measurements for N2D+." J. Mol. Spectrosc. , 306, 1-5, 2014. (View Paper)

Conference Talks

  • Luyao Zou & Susanna L. Widicus Weaver, "Millimeter-Submillimeter Spectrum of Van der Waals Bound Ar–H2O Dimer", International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, 2016, Champaign-Urbana, IL
  • Luyao Zou, Brian Hays, Susanna L. Widicus Weaver, "Re-evaluation of HO3 Structure Using Millimeter-submillimeter Spectroscopy", International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, 2015, Champaign-Urbana, IL
  • Luyao Zou, Susanna L. Widicus Weaver, Mary L. Rad & James L. Sanders III, "Global Optimization and Broadband Analysis Software for Interstellar Chemistry (GOBASIC)", 249th ACS National Meeting and Exposition, 2015, Denver, CO
  • Luyao Zou & Susanna L Widicus Weaver, "Millimeter and Submillimeter Spectroscopic Studies of HO3 ", International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, 2014, Champaign-Urbana, IL