"Where the Whole is More than the Sum of its Parts: Design and Synthesis of Multifunctional Nanomaterials for Catalysis/Energy and Nanomedicine"
The pace of development of nanomaterials has not let up since the foundation of the National Nanotechnology Initiatives (NNI) in the US, and the likes of it around the world, some 20 years ago. Many nanomaterials that have been discovered have not only allowed us to expand our fundamental understanding of matter in the regime between atoms/molecules and bulk systems, but also brought in many commercial nano-based products and enormous economic growth.However, a lot of work still remains to develop advanced nanomaterials for applications ranging from energy and environment to biology and medicine for the benefits of human beings. For example, there is currently a great need of sustainable and efficient solid-state catalysts for many renewable energy systems such as fuel cells and electrolyzers to provide clean energy and reduce the unabated negative environmental impacts of fossil fuels.
In the first part of my talk, my research group’s efforts on the rational design and synthesis of various metal-free or noble metal-free hybrid nanostructured and nanoporous materials and their unique properties will be discussed. Some of these materials are expected to address some of the most pressing issues facing the world today in the areas of energy and biology/medicine. I will emphasize how chemistry—and physical chemistry—enables the development of highly active, multifunctional nanostructured catalysts for reactions such as the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), and the hydrazine oxidation reaction (HOR)—reactions that are relevant to fuel cells and water splitting. Particular focus will be given to the various novel design and synthetic approaches (functionalization, “nanostructuring”, doping, etc.), to make a series of highly effective nanocatalysts for various reactions. Moreover, fundamental and theoretical studies that helped us to design as well as to unravel catalytic active sites on some of these materials, and the mechanisms by which they effectively transform various reactions, will be discussed. In the second part of my talk, I will demonstrate how similar synthetic approaches can lead to related nanomaterials that can serve as targeted drug delivery vehicles, antimicrobials or skin wound dressings. By exploiting the structural features, sizes, and multi-functional groups of the nanomaterials, we are able to improve the potency of many anticancer and antimicrobial agents. In many of these systems, the multiple functional groups that we rationally juxtapose on the nanomaterials are exploited to bring in functionality that is more than the simple sum of those of the constituents. Several examples demonstrating this, especially in the areas of energy conversions and storage and biological processes, will also be discussed.
~Coffee/tea will be served prior to lecture~