Archive for the ‘ChemComm1st’ Category

ChemComm Milestones – Weijin Li

We are excited to share the success of Weijin Li’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; “Bionic electroluminescent perovskite light-emitting device” included in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Weijin below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

My lab’s research areas include open framework materials (e.g. metal-organic frameworks, hydrogen organic frameworks), thin films and their electrical (e.g. dielectric)/ luminescent/sensing properties. Focus on the scientific questions inside the energy conversion, I am motivated to take the direction of dielectric control of open framework materials and film assembly. By controlling the dielectric constant and consumption, we aim to design either high-dielectric materials for energy storage or dielectric materials for electromagnetic radiation shielding. Besides, human health will face a great threat if one contacts polluted gas, water and some other agents. Inspired by the sensing mechanism of open framework materials based on a dielectric or luminescent behaviour change, we will also take the direction of dielectric and luminescent materials for sensing devices.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

The novelty of this work is in its configuration of fluorescent films. The ultrafast dynamic color change with ultra-high-definition flat panel display was realized in a simple and facile way based on perovskite light-emitting-diodes (PeLED). A PeLED displaying green color is combined with a brown fluorescent coating layer to form a hybrid FC-PeLED system. The FC-PeLED system can simulate the complete cycle of bionic plant colors from green to yellow through low energy (<0.6 mW) input. Thanks to the low-power-consumption/high-brightness of the PeLED and the color adjustability of the fluorescent layer, we built a new type of bionic electroluminescence system (FC-PeLED). The bionic process for the entirely natural process of ginkgo leaves realized by the obtained FC-PeLED will promote the future development of low-cost and low-power consumption bionic technology.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

In the coming year, we hope to develop crystalline coordination polymers with fast bionic color change at the stimulation of an electrical field and reveal the electrochromic mechanism. Focus on our research direction, both theoretical and experimental insights of dielectric materials based on conductive coordination polymers are going to be brought to light in the coming year.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

I obtained my PhD degree under the supervision of Prof. Rong Cao (NSFC distinguished professor) at the Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2015, where my thesis was “Preparation and properties of carboxyl-based metal-organic frameworks film”. Since 2016, I join Prof. Cao’s lab in Xiamen University, with the close collaboration of Prof. Xinchen Wang at Fuzhou University and Prof. Lasheng Long and Prof. Jun Tao at Xiamen University, on the topic of dielectric properties of metal-organic framework thin film. After a one-year postdoctoral stay at Xiamen University, I joined Prof. Roland A. Fischer’s group at the Chair of Inorganic and Metal-organic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Technical University of Munich, Germany (2016-2021), under funding support from the Joint Chinese Scholarship Council-German Academic Exchange Service (CSC-DAAD), an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship and German Research Foundation (DFG), and worked on preparation and study of metal-organic framework thin film for electrocatalysis. I was awarded the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship under the host of Prof. Takuzo Aida in Riken with the research on “mass transport in two-dimensional nanospace formed by polymeric nanosheets”. Unfortunately, due to the 2019-coro pandemic situation, I was unable to join Prof. Aida and just worked with Prof. Aida and colleagues online for some research exchanges and discussions. By chance, I was granted an Overseas High-level Recruitment of Talents-Youth Project in 2021. Then, I began my independent Professorship at the School of Materials Sciences and Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and Technology with an interest in open framework materials and their dielectric/luminescent/sensing properties.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

“Perseverance is helpful for researchers since it is common that researcher obtains more negative results than good results.”

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

I published a work “patterned growth of luminescent metal-organic framework film: a versatile method for electrochemical-assisted microwave deposition” and also see recent publications in ChemComm related luminescent materials. Consideration of the novelty of my work, thus I decide to submit it to ChemComm.

Weijin Li received his Ph.D. at Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2015. During six years of postdoctoral experience across Xiamen University, China (2015-2016) and Technical University of Munich, Germany (2016-2021), Weijin received the research awards of an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Granted Overseas High-level Recruitment of Talents-Youth Project, Weijin began his independent Professorship at the School of Materials Sciences and Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and Technology in 2021. His research interest focuses on inorganic and organic hybrid materials and their dielectric/luminescent/sensing properties.

Researchgate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Weijin-Li

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ChemComm Milestones – Zhen Jiang

We are excited to share the success of Zhen Jiang’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; “Designing strong, fast, high-performance hydrogel actuators” included in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Zhen below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

In my project, harnessing the power of organic/polymer chemistry, we are designing and synthesizing new polymeric materials that could shape the future of soft robotics. The created polymers can change their shape or size in response to stimuli like electricity, heat, light, chemical or pH. We are very passionate about this research because we believe that expansion of the capabilities of soft robotics requires new synthetic polymeric materials.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

A key component in soft robotic devices is soft actuators which can transduce energy into mechanical motions. Among all of the soft actuator materials, hydrogels absorbing large amounts of water are particularly promising to be integrated into soft robotics, due to their tissue-like softness, and ability to undergo large deformations. However, there are substantial shortcomings that limit their performance and real-world applications.

In this Highlight, we discuss the recent advances in material designs to address pre-existing limitations in hydrogel actuators such as poor mechanical properties, slow actuation speed and limited actuation performance. We also comment on the important role of synthetic chemistry in creating hydrogel actuators with improved material performance and exceptional functionalities. It is thus anticipated that our article can spark great interest among chemistry community in developing advanced materials for soft robots.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

In the next few years, using molecular design principles, we will focus on synthesizing advanced soft actuator materials exhibiting a unique combination of high-power actuation, excellent mechanical properties and good processability.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

I did my Master in Material Science at Fudan University, China. I was trained with extensive organic chemistry skills to synthesize functional small molecules/polymers and learned how to design photodeformable polymers. Then I went to University of Queensland for my PhD study, working on a number of projects related to synthetic polymers while aiming for different applications including high-resolution lithography, functional nanopatterns and soft actuators. These research experience enable me to develop a high level of independence which lay foundation for my current project. In 2022, I was awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (ARC DECRA) to broaden my network and mature as an independent researcher.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

The best advice I have received is probably from my Master supervisor Prof. Yanlei Yu at Fudan University “Opportunities are only for those who are prepared”. This advice helps me get through the tough time in my research career, and keeps me optimistic and have faith.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

As a polymer chemist, I am a regular reader of ChemComm which is one of the best journals in the field of chemical science. The reviewer’s comments are very helpful in improving the quality of submitted manuscripts. I am also especially impressed by its strong support to early career researchers.

Zhen Jiang is an early-career polymer chemist, specializing in designing and synthesizing stimuli-responsive soft materials for soft robotics and artificial muscles. He received his B.Eng. in Polymer Science and Engineering from Donghua University in 2011, his M.Eng. in Materialogy from Fudan University in 2014, and his Ph.D. in Polymer Science from The University of Queensland in 2018. In 2022, he received Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) from Australian Research Council (ARC) to advance his research career. His research interests include soft actuators, liquid crystalline elastomers, hydrogels, and photo-responsive polymers.

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ChemComm Milestones – Dinesh Shetty

We are excited to share the success of Dinesh Shetty’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; “Salicylaldehydate coordinated two-dimensional-conjugated metal–organic frameworks” included in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Dinesh below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

We are working on designing tunable porous materials for energy and water purification applications. The major focus is to develop framework materials/membranes for emerging water pollutants removal and also for desalination via capacitive deionization. In parallel, we are working on both photocatalytic and electrocatalytic framework materials for CO2 and N2 conversion, battery, and supercapacitor. The motivation is stemming from the fact that both focused research areas are socially relevant and need of the time.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

The novelty of this work is in its simplicity. The building block that we utilized for the construction of conjugated MOFs can be synthesized economically and the method we followed is green (first time in c-MOFs synthesis). The advantage of these combinations helping us to scale up and utilize these interesting materials in many applications.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

We are in the direction of achieving an interesting efficient framework system (both covalent organic frameworks and conjugated metal organic frameworks) that can be useful in energy conversion and water purification. We are on the path to developing a scaleup fabrication setup for above mentioned materials, which will help us to achieve the path of real-life applications (in a way commercialization)

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

It was a rough one but I started to appreciate it more now. It took 8 years after my PhD to get an independent position, however, those years of experience in interdisciplinary fields and spending time with world-renowned scientists really helped me to shape my career. The journey also helped me to gain my trust in the relevance of perseverance and hard work to achieve your dreams. Another advantage of my journey is learning multicultural scientific environment (I spent time in India, USA, and South Korea before starting my independent career), which is greatly helping me to supervise a group of scientists and students coming from different parts of the world.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

It was from my parents: ‘Your knowledge should not be judged by your medals/laurels but should be judged by how it helps solve the social problems

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

Firstly, it is one of the best short communications journals: readers friendly and has sharp scientific ideas and broad-readership. Secondly, it is close to my heart as I published a major part of my PhD work in this journal many years ago.

Dr. Dinesh Shetty is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Science, Khalifa University since fall-2019. He holds Ph.D. in chemistry from Seoul National University (SNU), South Korea. From 2011 to 2013, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, USA, and later moved back to South Korea in the year 2013 where he was a research fellow in the group of Professor Kimoon Kim at the Center for Self-assembly and Complexity, Institute for Basic Science, POSTECH. In 2016, he moved to New York University Abu Dhabi as a research scientist. He is a trained chemist with experience in multidisciplinary research areas including material science, porous materials, renewable energy, water purification, supramolecular chemistry, and biomedical science. He is the author of 53 peer-reviewed journal papers, >30 conference papers, 21 invited talks, and 6 patents with an h-index of 27.

He received Young Investigator Award from the Korean Society of Nuclear Medicine and the Best Researcher Award from the Korean Cancer Research Foundation. He is the recipient of the US National Academy of Science Arab-American Frontiers seed grant. His author profile was recently introduced by Angewandte Chemistry International Edition, a flagship chemistry journal. He delivered research talks in multiple countries and is currently an active member of the Royal Society of Chemistry under the Future Leaders in the Filed category. In his free time, he writes poems and newspaper column articles and also podcasts his thoughts. His research interest is focused on the development of multifunctional materials for various applications including energy, water purification, and biomedical applications.

A list of publications can be found at:

Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=QVgucAQAAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate

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ChemComm Milestones – Kourosh Ebrahimi

We are excited to share the success of Kourosh Ebrahimi’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; “VITAS, a sensitive in vivo selection assay to discover enzymes producing antiviral natural productsincluded in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Kourosh below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

My lab research areas include Bioinorganic Immunology and Drug Discovery. We elucidate the function of metalloenzymes and iron-sulfur [FeS] clusters, one of the oldest bioinorganic cofactors of life, and [FeS] containing proteins in the immune response. We use the outcome of our work to design and engineer biological systems for synthesizing and developing novel therapeutics. We apply a multidisciplinary approach combining protein engineering, biochemical and biophysical techniques, molecular biology, and cell biological methods.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

The idea of the VITAS assay described in the article initially came to me in 2017, and I included the idea in an ERC starting grant. The available assays to discover enzymes producing antiviral natural products (NPs) are multi-step with a high risk of failure at each step: (i) Identification and selection of desired enzymes among the unlimited natural library of enzymes, which is a random process. (ii) Expression and purification of a functional enzyme, which is not straightforward, especially in the case of oxygen-sensitive [FeS] proteins. (iii) Identification and discovery of the correct substrates of enzymes and the NPs they produce. (iv) Purifying the NPs and confirming the antiviral activity using biochemical or cell-based assays. Consequently, the discovery of new antiviral enzymes and NPs is practically a random process with a very high risk of failure.

We developed VITAS (the Latin word for leaving), an in vivo selection assay for identifying enzymes producing antiviral lead NPs to solve the challenge. The assay is based on a simple concept: a commonly used bacterium in the lab, namely E. coli, should die if an antiviral enzyme is absent inside the cells. We engineered the bacterium so that it generates a toxin protein in the absence of an antiviral enzyme. This live/dead assay will enable us to rapidly screen many enzymes among the repository of natural proteins and a library of variants generated using protein engineering. When the assay is coupled with other methods like liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, we can identify and discover novel antiviral lead NPs produced by enzymes.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

In the coming years, we hope to decode the molecular mechanism underlying the activity of a conserved antiviral response, discover new antiviral molecules, and design and create revolutionary approaches to antiviral therapeutics. This work is a milestone in our path to achieving our goals.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

My journey has been unique. I did my Bachelor’s studies in Chemical Engineering, Petroleum Process Design. After my graduation, an unexpected and sudden accident changed everything. Because of that event, I decided to continue my studies in Biochemistry to understand the molecular mechanism of diseases like cancer. Yet, my first stop was working in the industry to help support my career ambitions. After five years, I found the opportunity to start my M.Sc. and, subsequently, PhD studies, both under the supervision of Prof Wilfred Hagen, TU Delft. I developed a passion for fundamental science and the mechanism of function of metalloenzymes. After my PhD, I did a one-year Postdoc in Virology at the Scripps Research Institute, Florida, USA, with Prof Michael Farzan. I returned to TU Delft and received a two-year fellowship from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) to move to the University of Oxford. I joined the group of Prof Frazer Armstrong. I initiated multiple collaborations with various groups across the University, including with Prof William James (Sir William Dunn School of Pathology) and Prof James McCullagh (Department of Chemistry). With their support, I developed my research niche at the interface of Bioinorganic Chemistry and Immunology/Virology. After six years working at Oxford, in October 2021, I joined the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at King’s College London to start my independent career and establish my research group.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

A good scientist does everything possible to disprove their theories.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

After finalizing the draft of our manuscript, I was looking for a possible venue among highly respected journals in the field. While visiting the Chemical Communications website, I came across the Journal collection ‘ChemComm Milestones – First Independent Articles’. I was excited to see the support and recognition the Journal provides new investigators. I decided to submit our article to Chemical Communications without any second thought.

  I was born (on 26th December 1979) in Kerman, a small city near a desert in the south of Iran. After finishing my Bachelor’s studies, I worked in the petrochemical industry for five years. Subsequently, I received a scholarship from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), the Netherlands, and did my M.Sc. and later PhD studies there. My PhD was followed by a postdoc at the Scripps Research Institute and then one at TU Delft. I received an EMBO fellowship and moved to Oxford at the end of 2015. In October 2021, I joined the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science at King’s College London as a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Immunology and Drug Discovery.

 

Social Handles: @Kouroshhe; @FeSImmChemNet; @kingsmedicine

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ChemComm Milestones – Kun Jiang

We are excited to share the success of Kun Jiang’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; “Top-down manufacturing of efficient CO2 reduction catalysts from the gasification residue carbon” included in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Kun Jiang below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

My group research focuses on the precise electrochemical synthesis, especially on the selective electrocatalytic conversion of atmosphere molecules like O2/CO2/H2O into value-added chemicals and fuels. Aiming at this target, our lab has two primary research themes: 1) developing highly sensitive spectroelectrochemical techniques for operando interfacial study during these reactions, shedding light on the complex reaction pathways and the potential tuning knobs of local reaction environment; 2) rational design of gas diffusion electrode based electrochemical reactors with the insights from online diagnosis toward a more efficient energy conversion.

We believe such a synergetic approach from fundamental surface electrochemical investigation and practical pilot device validation could pave the development of more efficient electrosynthesis systems, aiding to envision the sustainable neutral carbon cycle.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

Electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) has provided a promising route to close the anthropogenic carbon cycle by storing renewable electricity within greenhouse gas molecules and generating fuels and commodity chemicals. Among various aqueous CO2RR products, CO is a simplest 2e product with a projected cost of $0.44 kg–1, making the electrochemical CO2-to-CO route be competitive to conventional processes and holding great significance for the chemical industry. In a recent work, we have demonstrated the role of local reaction environment, especially the electrode–electrolyte interface and the relevant hydrodynamic boundary layer in the vicinity of the cathode, in defining the activity and selectivity for Ag catalyzed CO2-to-CO conversion (Energy Environ. Sci., 2022, 15, 749-759).

Along this line, we have developed a “top-down” strategy to manufacture Ni-N-C active motif enriched carbon catalysts rather than the coinage metal of Ag, for a selective and stable CO2-to-CO conversion at ~45 LCO gcatalyst-1 h-1 for more than 50-h continuous electrolysis at ambient condition. More importantly, we started the single atom catalyst fabrication from the raw material of gasification residue carbon from heavy hydrocarbon feedstock, demonstrating a carbon neutral cycle driven by a “solid carbon waste”.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

Currently we’re working on modulating local reaction environment toward selective CO2-to-C2+ conversion. Both fundamental insights from advanced spectroelectrochemical techniques and practical electrolyzer performance optimization are going to be brought to light this year.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

After finishing my undergraduate study of applied chemistry at Jinan University, I started my academic research in physical chemistry with Prof. Wen-Bin Cai at Fudan University. The dynamic interfacial electrochemistry of Pd catalyzed HCOOH dehydrogenation versus dehydration pathway ignited my passion for spectroelectrochemistry investigations.

After I finished my Ph.D in 2016, I took postdoctoral trainings with Prof. Haotian Wang at Harvard University, and with Prof. Alexis T. Bell at LBNL/UC Berkeley, for which I stayed focus on the cutting edge research field of electrochemically converting “CO2 waste” into value-added chemicals and fuels with green energy input. These experiences have broadened my research area from surface electrochemistry into material science and chemical engineering, which granted me a widened academic horizon and collaboration.

Also based on these research experience, I took the PI position at SJTU and back to my home country in late 2019.  I currently lead a small group of 3 Ph.D candidates and 2 graduate students with a diverse education background of Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, working on the emerging interdisciplinary research topics bridging the fundamental researches at lab with the sustainable future demands on circular carbon economy.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

In Chinese, we have a proverb saying “海纳百川,有容乃大”, which has been vividly expressed by President Bacow’s commencement remarks to the Harvard class of 2022:

To save a seat for others, to make room for others, to ensure that the opportunities afforded by your education do not enrich your life alone.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

In September of 2011, I published my very first 1st-authored research paper at ChemComm as well. The rigorous peer-review process, amazing publication time and broad readership across all fields of chemistry make the journal a fantastic platform!

Kun Jiang is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). He obtained a Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry from Fudan University in 2016, held a Baden-Württemberg fellowship at Institute for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, Ulm University, and completed
postdoctoral trainings at Harvard, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and U.C. Berkeley. In 2019, he joined the School of Mechanical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University as a Principal Investigator, with the research focus of developing advanced reactor devices and spectroelectrochemical techniques for renewable energy utilization.

Group website: https://jianglab.sjtu.edu.cn/

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ChemComm Milestones – Shi-Qiang Wang

We are excited to share the success of Shi-Qiang Wang’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; “Adsorbate-dependent phase switching in the square lattice topology coordination network [Ni(4,4′-bipyridine)2(NCS)2]n” included in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Shi-Qiang below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

My research focuses on crystal engineering of metal-organic materials (PCPs/PCNs/MOFs) for gas storage, water sorption and hydrocarbon separations. In particular, the unusual “switching” behaviour of a series of square lattice coordination networks has fascinated me to work on this field.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

Gas storage is an important but energy-intensive process in industry. Although porous physisorbent materials hold significant promise in addressing this matter, they suffer from relatively low working capacity due to the Langmuir (type I) sorption isotherms. Flexible/switching coordination networks or MOFs featuring stepped sorption isotherms may provide higher working capacity and better thermal management than rigid sorbents with type I isotherms. However, their responsiveness to different adsorbates remains largely understudied.

In this work, we report the sorption properties of nine gases (N2, CH4, CO2, C2H2, C2H4, C2H6, C3H4, C3H6, and C3H8) for a prototypal switching coordination network, [Ni(4,4’-bipyridine)2(NCS)2] (sql-1-Ni-NCS), which exhibits adsorbate-dependent switching pressures and sorption uptakes. The primary message from this study is that nonporous materials (as determined by their crystal structures and/or 77 K N2 sorption data) should not be discarded as candidates for sorption-based applications as they may exhibit exceptionally high gas sorption working capacity through a phase switching mechanism.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

In the coming year, I hope we can develop a simple and cheap, sustainable and environment-friendly method for manufacturing functional metal-organic materials in large scale that meet the needs of industry and society. We are also open for potential collaborations from different perspectives to make the world better together.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

I started my “chem journey” since I was an undergraduate at Hebei University (2009-2013) where I learnt fundamental knowledge of different chemistry disciplines (e.g., Inorganic, Organic, Analytical, and Physical Chemistry). I then majored in Inorganic Chemistry for my Master’s degree (2013-2016) and conducted systematic research under the supervision of Prof. Xiang-Jian Kong and Prof. La-Sheng Long at Xiamen University. I worked on 3d-4f metal clusters and studied their magnetism and chirality.

Although I changed my research topics to higher dimensional (2 or 3D) metal-organic materials during my PhD study, the skills I have learnt previously helped me a lot. Under the guidance of Prof. Michael Zaworotko at the University of Limerick (2016-2022), I developed a family of 2D switching coordination networks that can be potentially used for gas storage and hydrocarbon separations. Afterwards, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with A/Prof. Dan Zhao as a Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore where I worked on advanced porous materials for air dehumidification.

Recently, I joined the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), which is a leading research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. As a Scientist at IMRE, I will continue my research, which is already part of my life, and hope to discover more advanced materials for real-world applications.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

Negative results can be also informative and should not be just laid aside and neglected. Unfortunately, it is common that researchers are keen on publishing the best results and pursuing new records, while it is also meaningful and important to mention what they have tried or failed before reaching the targeted goals.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

My first first-author paper was published in ChemComm in 2018 (https://doi.org/10.1039/C8CC03838D), and I was impressed by its rapid publication, excellent reputation, and broad audience. It thus prompted me to submit my first independent research (https://doi.org/10.1039/D2CC06549E) to ChemComm as well.

 

Dr. Shi-Qiang Wang (MRSC) is currently a Scientist at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) under the umbrella of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. Before moving to IMRE, he served as a Research Fellow (2022.03-2022.10) in the Advanced Porous Materials Group (PI: A/Prof. Dan Zhao) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He completed his PhD (2016.09-2020.06) and continued as a Postdoctoral Researcher (2020.08-2022.03) in the Crystal Engineering Research Group (PI: Prof. Michael Zaworotko) at the University of Limerick (UL), Ireland. He won two “Young Scientist” conference Awards sponsored respectively by the European Crystallographic Association and the International Union of Crystallography in 2018/2019 and the 2020 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad.

You can reach out to Shi-Qiang on Twitter: @ShiQiang_SQ, WeChat: sqwang0123, LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sqwangchem or his personal website: https://sqwangchem.com/

 

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ChemComm Milestones – Ricardo Peralta

We are excited to share the success of Ricardo Peralta’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; “Gas-phase organometallic catalysis in MFM-300(Sc) provided by switchable dynamic metal sites” included in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Ricardo below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

My research primarily aims to rationalize and develop applications for dynamic metal-ligand bonding phenomena in MOFs. I am motivated to explore these processes because I believe that to fully exploit the intrinsic characteristics of MOFs such as porosity, modular synthesis and crystallinity, the role of dynamic metal processes in fields such as catalysis must be elucidated. MOFs featuring dynamic metal-linker bonds are a promising route towards the synthesis of active and stable catalysts that do not require harsh activation conditions. The production of catalytically active MOFs often requires challenging synthesis and I believe that we have only touched the tip of the iceberg with the current research. The immense possibilities within MOF synthesis and it’s wider applications still fascinates and motivates me to pursue them.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

Using MOFs in heterogenous catalysis is advantageous due to the well-defined crystalline framework, which facilitates rapid diffusion of small molecules, high catalytic selectivity and can act as a matrix for the isolation of reactive complexes and intermediates.  Recyclability of heterogeneous catalysts provides a facile route to catalyst recovery.​ Due to high porosity and surface areas, gas phase catalysis is an area in which MOFs are particularly promising but which remains underexplored. Often MOFs featuring open metal sites are used for catalysis; however, such materials typically require harsh activation conditions and are not stable to some catalysis conditions.  The route towards gas phase catalysts proposed in this work relies on hemilability to generate temporary open metal sites in-situ without requiring harsh activation conditions.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

I hope that my lab can further establish the role of dynamic metal-ligand phenomena in MOFs and demonstrate the capacity of MOFs featuring hemilability in important applications.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

My pathway to becoming an independent researcher has been challenging but entirely rewarding. Undertaking my PhD studies and postdoctoral work in Australia and Korea challenged me to develop my English communication skills and provided opportunities to learn about advanced characterization techniques in turn broadening my chemistry knowledge. I have been guided by mentors who are experts in the area and friends who have supported me through my journey. I feel incredibly lucky and proud to have an opportunity to pursue my dream as an independent researcher and continue my learning path.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

Perseverance is the key to great outcomes.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

Chemical Communications is a highly regarded journal in the chemical sciences and an excellent route to communicate new ideas and research. It has excellent readership which open up avenues to for exchange of new ideas. I have read multiple articles from journal throughout my career and it is an honor to have my first paper as an independent researcher published in ChemComm!

 

After completing my undergraduate studies, I worked in industry at DUPONT Mexico and Seguros Monterrey New York Life, which inspired me to pursue a career in research. Through my Masters program at the National University Autonomous of Mexico, I encountered Metal-organic Frameworks (MOFs) and developed a keen interest in the development and applications of crystalline materials. I moved to The University of Adelaide in Australia to conduct my PhD which focused on isolating reactive transition metal complexes in MOFs for catalytic reactions. Buoyed by my experience in MOF catalysis, I undertook a research fellowship (Brain pool program) at Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) in South Korea, where I studied dynamic metal-ligand bonding within MOFs and its effect on catalysis. I continue to explore this fascinating phenomenon in my independent research and in my role as an Assistant Professor in Chemistry at the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico.

 

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ChemComm Milestones – Marcin Lindner

We are excited to share the success of Marcin Lindner’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; “V-shaped donor–acceptor organic emitters. A new approach towards efficient TADF OLED devicesincluded in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Marcin below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

Research in my group has focused on the rational design and the synthesis of functional aromatic materials such as concave N-doped polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (N-PAHs), curved heteroatom-doped nanographenes, donor-acceptor organic emitters with unique topology. These are investigated as emissive components in thermally activated delay fluorescent (TADF)/hyperfluorescent (HF) OLED devices, and hole-transporting layers (HTL) applied for more efficient throughput of Perovskite Solar Cells (PSCs). We have faced the challenge in constructing highly emissive organic materials by integrating donor-acceptor structure thoroughly fused and conjugated scaffold which bears, however, nonplanar geometry. We believe that implementation of such conceptually new, tailor-made organic materials would allow to holistically tune the desired optical properties such an efficient quantum yield, excited states energy difference, and bandgap energy.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

Seeking new organic emitters for TADF OLED devices has recently constituted an intensive field of research. Particularly, organic dyes with a small energy gap (ΔEST) which enable an efficient up-conversion process of triplet excitones are of high interest. The most common approach offered so far has relied on a use of rigid platforms decorated with twisted electron rich substituents to minimize HOMO-LUMO overlap which usually affects on ΔEST . We recently demonstrated first ambipolar and curved N-doped PAHs in which antiaromatic 7-memered ring led to the spatially separate HOMO-LUMO levels while curvature enabled one to minimize their overlap and achieve TADF emission (Angew. Chem. 2022, 61, e202202232) with PLQY up to 86% and EQE of 12%.

Building on that we envisaged the release of  the structural tension from our pristine N-PAHs would result in the system bearing V-shaped topology leading to a well decoupled donor-acceptor system. In this published paper, we showed the rational design and concise synthesis of a new set of V-shaped D-π-A organic emitters. “Releasing structural tension” from our parental architecture, we gained access to a novel class of dyes with V-shaped geometry, which was transparently proved by X-ray single crystal analysis. Furthermore, HOMO-LUMO levels were well separated leading to the remarkable decrease of ΔEST (<0.1eV for each derivative) and efficacious TADF process. For the best performing phenoxazine decorated dye, we found appreciable PLQY of 36% accompanied by a very good EQE of 13.6% which indeed stress the importance of the efficient up-conversion of triplet excitones due to the low ΔEST energy. These demonstrated results shed light on new structural paradigm that contributes strongly to the increase of TADF OLED effciency.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

We have currently aimed at developing a peripheral functionalization of our N-PAHs. Moreover, we have explored the synthetic methodologies toward curved nanographenes which are going to be brought to light this year.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

After my PhD in the group of Prof. Marcel Mayor (University of Basel, KIT Karlsruhe), I returned to Poland (2017) where I spent a short period of time at the industry (Selvita). With this valuable experience in a hand, I subsequently moved to Warsaw (IOC PAS). Within next 1.5 year I had here tackled to the development of new anion receptors and catalytic methods for stereo-selective semi-hydrogenation of alkynes, working in a group of Prof. Janusz Jurczak and Karol Grela, respectively. Meantime (2018/2019) I successfully applied for my first independent research grant (within the frame of Sonata 14 competition) funded by National Centre of Science. Year after (2020) I received second grant, this time from the National Centre of Research and Development (Lider XI). Within the scope of my independent research I try to perform a unique approach to the synthesis of aromatic compounds with goal of reaching a specific functionality.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

Well, here I would come with two quotes. Namely, “treat other as you want to be treated” and “make people believe what you believe in”. Both help me on daily basis to gradually become a better leader.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

ChemComm is a journal with a long tradition and an excellent reputation in chemistry. As it is a so-called “general” type of journal, it is accessed by the broad society of researchers who often cross the borders of chemistry and physics. “Publish your results in a journal, you used to read”. This attitude of my former co-advisor Dr Michal Valášek, (KIT, Germany) which was transferred to my professional life and was a driving force to publish following manuscript in ChemComm.

Marcin Lindner completed his PhD in 2016 at the University of Basel, Switzerland, under the guidance of Prof. Marcel Mayor. He defended a PhD dissertation entitled “Tailor-made tetraphenylmethanes : from surface decoartion to 3D organic polymers”.

In 2017 he returned to Poland to work at Selvita as a Synthesis Specialist III. After this short adventure in industry he returned to academia (Institute of Organic Chemistry, Polish Academy of Science) to work with Prof. Janusz Jurczak (10/2017-01/2019) and Prof. Karol Grela (02-11/2019).

Since 2019, has been employed as assistant professor and appointed a head of the Aromatic Functional Materials group at the IOC, PAS in Warsaw.

Twitter: @lindner_marcin

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ChemComm Milestones – Manabu Yamada

We are excited to share the success of Manabu Yamada’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; “Facile separation of cyclic aliphatic and aromatic vapors using crystalline thiacalixarene assemblies with preorganized channelsincluded in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Manabu below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

Our laboratory has two primary research themes. The first involves the development of adsorbents that use organic crystals based on macrocyclic compounds (calixarenes, thiacalixarenes, and cyclodextrins) to effectively separate small organic molecules. The second involves the development of extractants and adsorbents based on macrocyclic compounds and pincer ligands to effectively separate rare (precious) metals.

We were motivated to conduct this research for the following reasons: during my research on organic crystals, I became fascinated by the beauty of crystals, as well as their interesting properties, such as the selective incorporation of characteristic organic vapor components. During my research on rare metal separators, I found that I enjoyed designing extractants to recognize and separate specific metals.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

Cyclohexane and methylcyclohexane were synthesized via the hydrogenation of benzene and toluene, respectively. However, the unreacted aromatic material remains in the effluent stream of the reactor during this process. The effective separation of the cyclic aliphatic and aromatic compounds via conventional distillation is impossible, and separations based on the size and molecular volumes are challenging.

To exploit the differences in molecular sizes and spatial structures of cyclohexane and benzene or those of methylcyclohexane and toluene, macrocyclic compounds have been utilized to separate cyclic alkane/aromatic hydrocarbon vapor mixtures. However, the separation of benzene/cyclohexane and toluene/methylcyclohexane mixtures using one type of macrocyclic compound has not yet been achieved.

At this time, we found that the facile and efficient separation of both benzene/cyclohexane and toluene/methylcyclohexane mixtures can be achieved using one type of crystalline thiacalxarene assembly featuring preorganized channel-like adsorption sites, which possess the adsorption properties of cyclic aliphatics and aromatics and the different retention capacities of each adsorbed molecule.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

In the future, we will investigate the adsorption properties of polar organic molecules using crystalline thiacalixarene assemblies. In addition, we will attempt to develop novel organic crystals based on other macrocyclic compounds and evaluate their adsorption and separation properties for small organic molecules.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

I decided to become a researcher when I was a Ph.D. student under Prof. Fumio Hamada at Akita University. I was fascinated by the inclusion phenomena of macrocyclic compounds and the beauty of macrocycle-based organic crystals. After graduation, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Akita University Venture Business Laboratory in the field of supramolecular chemistry. I was then hired as a tenure-track assistant professor in the tenure-track program for young faculty members in the field of mineral resource research at Akita University, where I took on the challenge of a new research field: the development of extractants that can efficiently recover platinum group metals. Fortunately, with the support of my superiors, I became an independent researcher.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

I do not know if this is good advice for everyone, but I was once told, “the only privilege of a chemist is to be able to converse with compounds.” This is what I keep in mind as I continue my research. I believe this is the best advice I have ever received, as it has made me realize the importance of enjoying chemistry on a daily basis.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

ChemComm is a high-impact journal read by chemists across a wide range of fields. Additionally, it publishes research articles that are novel, urgent, and very compelling. These attributes are what motivated me to publish my article in ChemComm.

 

Manabu Yamada completed his PhD at Akita University, Japan, under the guidance of Prof. Fumio Hamada, where he explored the crystal structures of metal complexes of macrocyclic compounds. He then spent approximately two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Akita University Venture Business Laboratory, Japan. In 2012, he accepted a tenure-track assistant-professorship at Akita University, working on the development of new extractants for the recovery of rare metals from secondary resources. He was appointed principal investigator of this project in 2017. Since 2022, he has been an Associate Professor at Akita University, with a research focus on the development of extractants and sorbents for the effective and selective separation of metals and small organic compounds.

Twitter: @Akita_Lab

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Manabu-Yamada-2

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ChemComm Milestones – Cameron Bentley

We are excited to share the success of Cameron Bentley’s first-time independent article in ChemComm; ‘Direct electrochemical identification of rare microscopic catalytic active sitesincluded in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Cameron below.

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

My groups research centres on green energy conversion and storage, specifically on developing a working understanding of the relationship between materials nanostructure and function (e.g., catalytic activity, stability, selectivity etc.). We have developed a suite of nanoscale electrochemistry (nanoelectrochemistry) techniques that provide a very different view of electrodes and electrochemical processes, allowing us to “see” catalytic active sites during operation, which we further relate to the materials underlying chemistry and structure to assign the fundamental structure-property relationship(s). We believe that accessing this information will accelerate materials discovery and further facilitate the rational design of “next-generation” materials with enhanced function, which are both critically important goals in the field of materials science.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

Nanostructured electrochemical interfaces are found in diverse applications ranging from electrocatalysis and energy storage to biomedical and environmental sensing. These functional materials, which possess chemical and structural heterogeneity on wide range of length scales, are usually characterised using “bulk” electrochemical techniques which provide limited information on—or worse, may even obscure—the nature of the underlying (catalytic) active sites. This work showcases a new approach, based on local voltammetric analysis with a scanning electrochemical droplet cell technique, in combination with a new data processing protocol (termed data binning and trinisation), to directly identify never-before-seen catalytic active sites on the basal plane of molybdenum disulfide (2H-MoS2). The introduced approaches are generally applicable and understanding the nature of (sub)microscopic catalytic active sites, such as the nanoscale “electrocatalytic hotspots” identified herein, is crucial to guide the rational design of next-generation earth-abundant materials for renewable fuels production.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

We would like to expand our cutting-edge nanoelectrochemistry approaches (such as those introduced herein) to investigate the structure-activity-selectivity relationships associated with more complex electrochemical reactions (e.g., the electrochemical reduction of CO2) and electrode materials (e.g., single nanoparticles).

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

My BSc was a co-major in biochemistry and chemistry at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. I remember being quite torn between these two important and interesting areas, until I undertook a summer research project at CSIRO (Australia), looking at corrosion (and corrosion protection) in carbon capture and storage pilot plants. This ignited my passion for electrochemistry and sustainable energy technologies, leading me to take up a Swinburne/CSIRO co-supervised Honours project on positive electrode current collector corrosion in lithium-ion batteries. I really embraced the research during my Honours year, and a PhD seemed like a natural choice, which I carried out at Monash University on the topic of “Electrode reaction and mass-transport mechanisms associated with the I⁻/I₂ and H⁺/H₂ redox couples in ionic liquid media”, supervised by Profs Alan Bond and Jie Zhang.

After graduating at the end of 2015, I moved abroad and took up a position at the University of Warwick, UK, working with Prof Patrick Unwin in the Department of Chemistry. Over a period of 4.5 years, I was funded by a succession of Fellowships (Endeavour, Marie-Curie and Ramsay), which granted me a great degree of academic independence, allowing me to collaborate widely and take my research in significant new directions within this fresh environment, notably towards the emerging areas of nanoelectrochemistry and single-entity electrochemistry.

It was on these topics that I prepared my successful DECRA Fellowship application, which I took up at Monash University in November 2020. This is my first independent position and I currently lead a small group of 4 PhD students (2 as primary supervisor, 2 as secondary) and 2 Honours students within the School of Chemistry. I am very happy to be back in my home country and believe that we (my group and I) are well-positioned to lead the rapidly emerging nanoelectrochemistry field, as it continues to expand.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

The best advice I have received is probably to trust my feelings of intuition (“trust your gut”) with respect to research (and people!). Of course, there is a fine line between being assertive with our ideas and being stubborn or hard-headed, but I think it is an important lesson for early career researchers trying to “find their niche”.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

I am a regular reader of ChemComm and believe that is an excellent journal. The time commitment for reading is relatively low, while the potential rewards are high, as ChemComm tends to publish very cutting-edge research in my areas of interest (e.g., electrochemistry, materials science and nanoscience).

Dr Cameron L. Bentley obtained his PhD from Monash University, Australia (2012 – 2015) and worked as a (Senior) Research Fellow at the University of Warwick, UK (2016 – 2020), supported by subsequent Endeavour (Australia), Marie Skłodowska-Curie (EU) and Ramsay Memorial (UK) Fellowships. Currently, he is an ARC DECRA Fellow at Monash University and his research centres on combining cutting-edge electrochemical imaging techniques (a unique capability that is only available in his laboratory, within Australia) with co-located microscopy/spectroscopy to solve contemporary structure−function problems in electromaterials science. Cameron has published >50 peer-reviewed articles and is the recent recipient of the Early Career Analytical Electrochemistry Prize of ISE Division 1 (International Society of Electrochemistry).

Twitter: @CL_Bentley

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