Humans are living unsustainably through wasting, depleting, and degrading the earth’s natural capital. Scientific innovations may address many of the sustainability issues and create a more sustainable future. Historically, materials we used largely define our quality of life, from stone, bronze, iron to metal alloy, silicon and plastic. In the last twenty years, carbon nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, fullerenes, and mesoporous carbon structures, have been discovered to possess many fascinating properties that differ significantly from other materials. For example, carbon nanotubes with cylindrical nanostructures have electrical conductivity more than 1,000 times greater than that of copper; graphene as a two-dimensional atomic-scale layer is the strongest material ever tested.
Our research motivation is to translate the superior properties of carbon nanomaterials into impactful applications which can create a sustainable future for humans. In my view, there are two key challenges in realizing this transition. First, owing to the unique properties of carbon nanomaterials that depend on their nanoscale structures, it is necessary to synthesize carbon nanomaterials with well-defined atomic structures. Second, practical applications require functional solutions in macroscale. Thus, it is essential to convert nanoscale properties into macroscale functionalities. Chemical process design and development will play a critical role in addressing the two challenges.
Our current research interests focus on developing functional carbon composite materials with well-defined nanoscale structures and suitable macroscale structures, and utilizing these novel materials for sustainable energy and environmental applications.
The followings are several our on-going projects:
- Carbon materials from the thermocatalytic decomposition of methane for battery and water treatment applications
- Zinc-based batteries: Zinc anodes, oxygen electrocatalysts, and electrolytes
- Carbon composite electrocatalysts for electrochemical conversions: water splitting, hydrogen peroxide synthesis, carbon dioxide reduction, chlorine evolution reaction
- Carbon composite electrodes for supercapacitors and hybrid capacitors
- Nanocarbon for environmental applications: membranes and antibacterial materials
- Chirality selective synthesis of single-walled carbon nanotubes