Mao Research Group @ NUS
Colloid and Interface Science, Polymer Science and Engineering
My PhD research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (advisors: T. Alan Hatton and Gregory C. Rutledge, Department of Chemical Engineering) focuses on the rational design of polymer-based electrochemical interfaces, by engineering the three key constituents, including functional, electrochemically active, polymeric materials, the electrode and the electrolyte.
The primary research thrust in my PhD is a systematic investigation of electrochemically active polymer (EAP) systems, ranging from their synthesis methodology to mechanistic understanding to real-world applications and device operation, such as:
the fabrication strategies of nanostructured EAPs with enhanced performance and stability (e.g., J. Mater. Chem. A 2013, Langmuir 2013, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2015, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2018),
the elucidation of charge storage and electron transfer mechanisms in complex EAP systems (e.g., Chem. Mater. 2016, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2018, Energy Environ. Sci. 2018),
the development of electrochemically responsive polymer interfaces for controlling heterogeneous catalysis and surface adsorption (e.g., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, Energy Environ. Sci. 2018, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2018, ACS Central Sci. 2019).
A second research topic I’ve worked on is the structural manipulation of polymer-derived carbon electrodes to modulate their electronic properties and electrochemical activities (e.g., Adv. Mater. 2013, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2014, Nano Today 2014, Chem. Mater. 2015, Chem. Mater. 2016).
Furthermore, I examined the design of novel electrolyte systems, a less explored field in the development of electrochemical interface. My work focuses on understanding the unique interfacial behavior and electrochemical properties of amphiphilic liquid systems showing long-range ordering, and offers insights into the design principles for high-energy-density electrolytes based on spontaneous self-assembly behavior (e.g., Nat. Mater. 2019).
Superresolution Reaction Imaging, Single Molecule Techniques
- Photo(electro)catalysis, Polymerization Catalysis, Energy Transfer in Bioinorganic Hybrid Systems
My postdoc work at Cornell University (advisor: Peng Chen, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology) focuses on the development of single-molecule catalysis imaging techniques that can accelerate the discovery of materials design principles for energy, environmental and biomedical applications.
To date my work has been concentrated on i) studying photoelectrochemical energy conversion processes using single-molecule/single-particle approaches (e.g., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, Nano. Lett. 2019), ii) comparing nanoparticle catalysis and enzyme catalysis from a single-molecule perspective (ACS Catal. 2019), and, most importantly, iii) developing a first-of-its-kind technique, COMPEITS, that allows for imaging nonfluorescent reactions at super-resolution (Nat. Chem. 2019, featured on the front cover). Other ongoing efforts include the development of single-molecule/single-particle techniques to study photo(electro)catalysis, polymerization chemistries, and fundamental energy transfer processes in emerging bioinorganic hybrid systems.