Our research focuses on innovating the design strategy and the production mode of functional porous materials, in particular zeolites, toward addressing critical issues in energy conversion and environmental remediation. Approaches from chemical engineering and materials chemistry perspectives will be developed and integrated to solve complex and challenging problems in the field. We anticipate our efforts will contribute to fundamental understandings and practical applications of functional porous materials.

Mechanistic Study and Kinetic Study of Zeolite Crystallization

High heterogeneities in concentration and temperature always take place in the hydrothermal synthesis of zeolites, which renders the mechanistic study as well as the kinetic study a daunting challenge. Our group is devoted to design and establish synthesis platforms with high spatial and temporal resolutions, which in combination with both ex situ and in situ characterization techniques can identify and track the different types of basic units contributing to the crystallization of zeolites. The acquisition of the high-quality data then further facilitates the development of accurate kinetic models that help us to elucidate the crystallization pathways and realize the rational synthesis of zeolites.

Design, Synthesis and Applications of Metal-Containing Zeolites

Metal-containing zeolites combine unique shape selectivity and high stability of zeolite with the versatile functionalities of metal species, offering new opportunities to chemical transformations. Optimal performances originate from the synergy between the guest metal species and the host zeolite, which generate geometric and/or electronic effects in the confined space. Our group innovates synthesis routes that can precisely integrate metal species of specific forms into either the framework or the interior space of zeolites. Through both experimental and computational approaches, we seek to elucidate the host-guest interactions and engineer the microenvironments in the confined space toward a rational design of catalyst at the nano scale. We endeavor to synthesize cost-effective and highly stable bifunctional catalysts to advance environmentally-friendly and sustainable chemical processes. The reactions of our interest include the conversion of C1 molecules to value-added chemicals and the dehydrogenation of propane to propylene.

Continuous-Flow Synthesis of Functional Porous Materials

The continuous-flow synthesis has emerged as a new paradigm in diverse fields. By combining both experimental and simulation approaches, our group strives to develop continuous-flow systems for the large-scale production of zeolites towards industrial applications. Besides the benefits in terms of scaling-up, the continuous flow synthesis increases the level of precision and tunability and is expected to facilitate the experimental exploration towards property-tailoring of zeolites. Therefore, we design and fabricate integrated continuous-flow systems to advance the syntheses of the zeolites with specific features and particular functionalities (e.g., zeolite nanosheets and metal-nanocluster-containing zeolites).

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