Self-assembly of ultrathin 2D metal oxide nanosheets (Nature Commun., 5 (2014) 3813)

Fly-eye inspired anti-fogging thin films (Small, 10 (2014) 3001)
Bi-functional 1D-3D TiO2 nanostructured photoanode
(Chem. Commun., 49 (2013) 6924)
Electronic structure and microstructure of Y-Si-O oxides (Inter. Mater. Rev., 59 (2014) 357)

1. Self-assembly of metal oxide nanostructures

The strategy of self-assembly is one of the few practical techniques which are available to obtain controllable ensembles of nanostructures based on the “bottom-up” approach. The self-assembly process, defined as the spontaneous arrangement of nanoparticles or other discontinuous components into structurally organized aggregates or networks, has been observed in a variety of examples, ranging from the formation of crystals and micelles to the formation of complex organic and organometallic molecules, through ionic bonds, hydrogen bonds, water-mediated hydrogen bonds, and hydrophobic or van der Waals interactions. in our group, we intend to develop novel nanostructures via the design of rational surfactant-precursor interactions.


Selected publications:

1.    Z. Sun et al., "Rational design of 3D dendritic TiO2 nanostructures with favourable architectures," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 133 (2011) 19314-19317.

2.    Z. Sun et al., “Generalized self-assembly of scalable two-dimensional transition metal oxide nanosheets,” Nature Commun., 5 (2014) 3813.

3.    Q. Liu, Z. Sun et al., “Two-step self-assembly of hierarchically-ordered nanostructures (Highlight),” J. Mater. Chem. A, 3 (2015) 11677-11688.


2. Bio-inspired smart materials and interfaces

In the last decade, techniques have been rapidly developed to produce “smart” multifunctional nanomaterials by applying lessons learned from Nature, or that we denote as “bio-inspired nanostructures”. This approach leads naturally to the development of bio-inspired multifunctional nanomaterials for use in applications. In our research, novel bio-inspired interfaces and surfaces with novel multiple functionalities will be developed based on the understanding of the relationships among the composition, structures, and properties of biological surfaces by the means of a combinations of modern analytical technologies and tools and theoretical calculations.

Selected publications:

1.        Z. Sun et al., “Fly-eye inspired superhydrophobic anti-fogging inorganic nanostructures,” Small, 10, (2014) 3001.
2.        Z. Sun et al., “Fish-scale bio-inspired multifunctional ZnO Nanostructures,” NPG Asia Mater., 7 (2015) e232. 
3.       Y. Dou, Z. Sun et al., “Fish-gill inspired crossflow for efficient and continuous collection of spilled oil,” ACS Nano, 11 (2017) 2477-2485.

3. Sustainable energy harvesting, conversion and storage

In recent years, soaring fossil fuel prices have driven up the demand for economically renewable energy sources more than ever. Solar energy, one of the greenest power sources with near zero CO2 emission, provides an efficient and sustainable solution to resolve the energy crisis. In our research, we seek to develop high-performance energy harvesting, conversion and storage devices via nanostructure engineering and materials innovations.

Selected publications:

1.     J. Mei, Z. Sun et al., “Two-dimensional metal oxide nanomaterials for next-generation rechargeable batteries,” AdvMater., 29 (2017) 1700176.

2.     Y. Dou, Z. Sun et al., “Atomic Layer-by-Layer Co3O4/Graphene Composite for High Performance Lithium-Ion Batteries,” Adv. Energy Mater., 6 (2016) 1501835.

3.     Y. Dou, Z. Sun et al., “Graphene-like holey Co3O4 nanosheets as a highly efficient catalyst for oxygen evolution reaction,” Nano Energy, 30 (2016) 267.



4. Synthesis-structure-property relationships of metal oxides

The different synthetic methods result in huge variation on the structure and the final functional/structural applications. In our research, we intend to make a comprehensive understanding on the synthesis-structure-property relationships of metal oxides and give a general guideline on rational design of application targeted metal oxide materials in the forms of in ether bulk state or nanostructure.  

 Selected publications:

1.         Z. Sun et al., “Lowering grain boundary resistance of BaZr0.8Y0.2O3-d with LiNO3 sintering-aid improves proton conductivity for fuel cell operation” Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 13 (2011), 7692.
2.         Z. Sun et al., “Recent Progress on Synthesis, Multi-scale Structure, and Properties of Y-Si-O Oxides”, Inter. Mater. Rev., 59 (2014) 357.
3.         T. Liao, Z. Sun et al., “Theoretically designed metal-welded carbon nanotubes: Extraordinary electronic properties and promoted catalytic performance,” Nano Energy., 32 (2017) 209-215.