Solar-driven Woody Biomass Conversion.

Lignocellulosic biomass, mainly composed of lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose, is the most abundant raw materials and the largest renewable carbon source on the Earth. Our research group pioneers the solar-driven catalytic conversion of biomass into value added fuels and chemicals. Lignin is the largest non-carbohydrate component in the lignocellulosic biomass. It has been considered as a major recalcitrance factor in biomass utilization such as cellulosic ethanol production and paper & pulping process. Depolymerization of lignin is one of the approaches for lignin utilization. Production of mono-aromatic compounds and/or dicarboxylic acids from lignin can replace the petroleum-based chemical building blocks. For the effective lignin depolymerization, our group is currently developing a visible light-driven chemoselective lignin depolymerization strategy.

biomass conversion

Ref. ACS Energy Lett. 2019, Just accepted. DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.9b02391 

Polymeric Metal Assemblies for Solar Energy Conversion.

Dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical cells (DSPECs) convert energy from the sun directly to fuel. An essential component of a working DSPEC device is a light-harvesting material with relatively long excited state lifetimes, as observed for semiconducting polymer nanoparticles (PNPs). The use of hydrophilic pendant chains and hole-transporting polymers can enhance the stability of the metal chromophore assembly on metal oxide substrates and provide multiple chromophoric antennas that efficiently funnel excited state energy to metal oxide surfaces. To this end, we will pursue a reliable synthetic strategy for the design of a new class of amphiphilic light-absorbing polymer-based metal chromophore-sensitized macro-mesoporous metal oxide electrodes that will form the next generation of multipurpose energy conversion and solar fuel systems.

Ref.  J. Phys. Chem. C 2014, 118, 28535. ACS Energy Lett. 2016, 1, 339.  ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 2018, 1, 62.

Polymer-brush-coated Magnetic Hydrogels for Water Remediation.

Synthesis of photocatalytic and/or magnetic nanoparticles for purification of contaminated water has been a rapidly growing application of nanotechnology in environmental science. We design and develop a high performance heavy metal ion (HMI, e.g. Cr(VI)) removal system by taking advantage of the easy separation and highly efficient HMI adsorption properties of polymer-coated magnetic hydrogels with long-chain aliphatic amines as polymer brushes. The key feature of the proposed strategy is the design of a superior HMI removal system featuring magnetic nanoparticles in three-dimensional polymer networks and long-chain amino-terminated magnetic hydrogels.


Ref. Crystal Growth and Design 2008, 9, 32. Chemical Communications 2009, 4989-4991.