Research Directions

Sustainable energy and clean environment are key global challenges in the 21st century. Dr Song's research interests are focused on design and synthesis of porous materials for energy and environmental applications, in applications such as membranes for molecular separations, heterogeneous catalysis, combustion, and energy conversion and storage. 

Recent materials research include nanostructured mixed metal oxides for combustion and low carbon energy processes (Energy Environ. Sci. 2013), and cutting-edge microporous materials and their applications in membranes for gas separations, notably metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and polymer/MOF composites (Energy Environ. Sci. 2012), polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) (Nature Communications, 2013;  Nature Communications, 2014Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2016), novel porous molecular materials known as porous organic cages (Advanced Materials, 2016), and microporous polymer nanofilm membranes (Nature Materials, 2016).

Rational design of these novel materials for functional applications requires a fundamental understanding of their physical and chemical properties at the molecular level, such as chemical structure, macromolecular structure and crystalline structure, and linking the structures with their bulk properties over multi-magnitudes of scale. To solve these questions, the group uses an interdisciplinary approach involving chemistry, physics, materials science, chemical engineering science, and cutting-edge nanotechnology. A broad scientific approach is used aiming to understand their physical and chemical properties that dominate the processes of molecular and ionic transport, adsorption/absorption and diffusion, and chemical reactions. The group are working on synthetic chemistry and collaborating extensively with chemists and materials scientists. Extensive physical and chemical characterization techniques are used to establish the structure-property relationships, building a fundamental background for their scale-up and commercialization to industrially useful products.

Research Directions

 

 

DESIGN AND SYNTHESIS OF FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS

We are working on a broad range of functional materials, from inorganic to organic and hybrid materials. Examples include layered double hydroxides (LDHs) and derived mixed metal oxides, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and derivatives, microporous organic polymers and molecules, polymer nanocomposites, nanostructured carbon materials including graphene, and organic-inorganic composite materials. One focus is on design and synthesis of novel microporous (pore size < 2 nm) materials and molecular sieves, such as Polymers of Intrinsic Microporosity (PIMs) and MOFs. We synthesise and fabricate these functional materials for applications in energy conversion and storage, molecular separations, and heterogeneous catalysis.

PIM-1

PIM-1

Functional materials

MICROPOROUS MATERIALS AND MEMBRANES FOR MOLECULAR SEPARATIONS

Separation processes critically determine the efficiencies in chemical, energy and environmental processes, such as gas separation for large-scale energy and oil & gas industry (natural gas purification, CO2 separation, air separation, hydrocarbons separations in petrochemical industry, etc), chemical separations, and water desalination and purification. We fabricate novel microporous materials into sorbents and membranes for applications in adsorption and separations.

Part of the project involves collaboration with the group of Professor Andrew Livingston FREng and research groups in several UK universities (EPSRC programme grant project: From membrane material synthesis to fabrication and function).

High pressure gas sorption
High pressure gas sorption in porous polymers

Gas sorption
Gas sorption in PIM-1 polymers and polymer/MOF composites

Upper bound
Highly permeable and selective membranes for gas separation

SynfabFun
Synthesis, fabrication, and functional applications of polymer membranes

 

NANOSTRUCTURED MATERIALS FOR ENERGY CONVERSION AND STORAGE

Novel materials hold promises for step-change advancement in energy conversion and storage, which are critical for renewable energy technologies. Functional nanomaterials, including polymeric, nanostructured oxides, and porous materials, are synthesised and fabricated for energy applications in batteries, fuel cells and supercapacitors.

RFBs
Redox flow batteries for energy storage applications

 ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL CATALYSIS, AND REACTION ENGINEERING

We are interested in design and synthesis of nanostructured and porous materials, such as layered double hydroxides (LDHs) and mixed metal oxides, porous MOFs and derived carbon materials and composites, functionalized catalytic active porous polymers, for applications in heterogeneous catalysis and reaction engineering, such as catalytic conversion of fuels, environmental catalysts for air pollutants control, and clean conversion of gas and solid fuels.

Materials for Combustion

Nanostructured mixed metal oxides for clean combustion process and CO2 capture