Functional Porous Materials for Energy and Environmental Applications

Our research on porous materials is focused on nanoporous materials such as zeolite, mesoporous silica, porous carbon, porous oxides, metal organic frameworks and covalent organic frameworks. These porous materials with the high specific surface area and well defined pore shape give them the functionalities to perform well in a number of applications. The porous materials research at the Division of Nanotechnology and Functional Materials puts emphasis on the synthesis, characterization and nanoengineering of a wide range of porous materials and their applications in energy and environmental areas.

Notable example of our work include the synthesis of highly porous inorganic carbonates and oxides. Our work on highly porous amorphous calcium carbonate and phosphate demonstrated the ability of these materials in bio-related applications. Our current major focus is on tailoring framework porous materials for environmental applications, such as greenhouse gas sorption and catalysis. Tailor of the structure, in particular the effective pore size of framework porous materials, allow porous materials to work as selective sorbents for greenhouse gases. Tailoring can be made by linker design (for metal-organic frameworks), or by post-synthesis modifications (amine grafting or ion exchange). We have significant experience with characterization of porous materials using techniques such as X-ray diffraction, gas adsorption, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and electron microscopy (SEM and TEM). We are also equipped to test porous sorbents for gas separation both under pressure/vacuum swing and temperature swing environment

In addition, we are focusing on processing and shaping porous materials via nanoengineering approaches. The porous materials can be processed into freestanding nanopapers and aerogels with the assistance of biopolymers (e.g., cellulose, chitason) that could boost their practical applications in flexible energy storage devices, thermal insulation, water purification and desalination, VOC removal, etc. 

For more information please contact responsible researchers: 
Ocean Cheung and Chao Xu

Structure of novel metal-organic framework UU-200 (left); an origami folded by cellulose@MOF nanopaper (right).
Last modified: 2021-11-16