Current Research

Modern transmission electron microscopy (TEM) integrates electron diffraction, high resolution imaging and energy spectroscopic techniques with extremely high spatial resolution and energy resolution. We take full advantage of KAUST’s advanced TEM facilities to investigate various nanostructured materials in the structures, compositions and che​mical states with atomic-scale precision. We are also developing a software package for 3-D electron diffraction tomography.​ ​​​​​​
​Our research on mesoporous materials (with pore diameter of 2-50 nm) synthesis has been mainly focused on structural diversity, compositional flexibility and morphological control. We are particularly interested in the fabrication of unprecedented mesoporous structure (e.g. tri-continuous or multi-continuous structures), which besides its fundamental significance, would provide opportunities for developing new applications.​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
The catalytic conversion of fossil fuels, like natural gas and petroleum products, is a long-lasting scientific task all the time while the upgrading of biomass is another hot topic during the post fossil energy age. In this project, we aim to bring nanoscience into these conventional and freshly established catalytic processes by designing and synthesizing nanostructured catalysts that attain larger surface area, more active reaction centers and higher selectivity of target products.​​​
Nanostructured materials have well-defined morphologies within the nanometric scale, which could also act as building blocks for the organization into multiphase assemblages. Both the individual and assembled nanostructures possess interesting physicochemical properties. Our current research mainly focuses on the wet-based synthesis and self-assembly of metal/metal-oxide nanostructures and their related nanocomposites. The way how the nanostructure assembles has a profound impact on its ultimate performance in the applications of chemical sensing, photocatalysis and solar-cells.​ ​​​​
Polymeric gas-separation membranes have important applications in hydrogen production, natural gas purification as well as carbon dioxide capture and storage. Ideal membranes should be both highly permeable and selective. By rational molecular design, we synthesized a series of novel polymers with intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) and various desired functional groups. The porosity offers high permeability while the type/density of the functional groups varies the affinity to different gases. High-performance gas separation membranes can be fabricated from these new polymers.​​​ ​​​​