Researching functional nanocarbons and colloidal photonic crystals
The primary goal of our research is to develop photoactive nanomaterials, in particular nanocarbons and hierarchically-ordered metamaterials, with the tenet of green chemistry. We explore their applications in environmental monitoring and remediation, renewable energy and health care.
Laser-assisted fabrication of functional nanocarbon materials
Among diverse fabrication methods of graphene, laser reduced graphene oxide (LRGO) and laser induced graphene (LIG) have attracted significant interest in recent years, owing to its suitability for industrial production, and localized treatment and patterning without the use of chemicals. Based on the LRGO and LIG, various applications have been demonstrated such as supercapacitors, sensors, field effect transistors, solar cells and optical devices. Our research focus is on the understanding of the light-matter interactions (Carbon, 2019, vol. 141, p.83), biosensor (Carbon, 2020, vol. 163, p.385) and wearable device applications (Adv. Mater. Technologies, 2021, 2001191).
Synergistic 2D/0D, 2D/1D, 2D/3D multi-functional materials for clean energy and environment
By embedding 0D, 1D nanomaterials such as C-dots and TiO2, Cu2O nanowires into 2D materials such as reduced graphene oxide, we have observed optimised fluid flow pathways (Chem Comm, 2014, vol.50, 13089), enhanced photoelectrochemical reactions (Catalysis Sci Tech, 2018, vol.8, 1704; Emergent Mater. 2019, 2, 303), and novel cost-effective methods for material functionalization (Emergent Mater. 2019, 2, 303).
Hierarchically ordered micro and nanomaterials
This direction of research has received support from ARC Discovery grants in 2005 (DP0558727) and 2016 (DP160104089) and a Marie Curie Fellowship (2006 – 2008).
Our research team discovered the superior light trapping effect of double heterostructure colloidal crystal, which is patented (US patent granted, Patent No. 10,718,902 B2, Chinese patent no. ZL 201680046559) and published in Scientific Reports (2015). Subsequently, we developed sandwich structured TiO2 inverse photonic crystal by modulating the offset between the TiO2 electronic bandgap and the blue and red edge of the photonic bandgaps, which resulted in 5-fold as high a current density in comparison to the monolithic counterpart in a photoelectrochemical cell, demonstrating the power of light trapping for improving light harvesting (J. Mater. Chem. A, 2017, 5, 12803; Cover Illustration).
Our current research on spherical photonic crystals (photonic beads) has generated new knowledge on the synergistic effect of combining microcavity with photonic effect. (Adv. Optical Materials, 2020, 8, 1901537).