Overarching goal:

Our research focuses on exploring unconventional approaches that integrate synthesis, self-assembly, fluid dynamics, and scalable processing of nano-materials from both organic and inorganic worlds with complementary strengths, well-defined conformation, morphology, composition and electronic properties for energy harvesting and storage applications. The convergence of these interdisciplinary studies provides revealing insights into the development of new generations of hybrid materials with unprecedented materials properties, especially those pertinent to energy harvesting and storage applications. 

2D Soft Active Materials (SAMs)

Exploring self-assembling strategy of systematically controlling the single layers conformation, surface chemistry, controlled assembly of soft active materials, including nano-graphitic allotropes, metal dichalcogenides for energy conversion and storage.

Three Dimensionality In 2D SAMs

The deployment of dimensional transitions is ubiquitous in nature, ranging from the Venus flytrap, beating of a heart, sounds shaped by the vocal folds and zooming of focal length by the human eye. External stimuli in the form of chemical or mechanical cues arising from the environment result in the deformation of materials. Such a dimensional transition leads to new functionalities, which cannot be found in their original formats. We explore nature-inspiring synthetic strategies to systematically study the self-assembling behaviors, underlying mechanisms and the associated material properties, ultimately enabling the microscopic integration and macroscopic deployment of these 2D SAMs. 

High Throughput Nanoprocessing of Printable Hybrid Photovoltaics

Organic-inorganic perovskites that combine the strength of both chemical worlds have emerged as tantalizing candidates for next generation photovoltaics. Two of the most formidable challenges are the formation of pin-hole free precursor thin films and the subsequent transformation into highly crystallized absorber upon thermal annealing. To surmount this hurdle, we explore the electrohydrodynamically-assisted continuous liquid interface propagation (clip) as a general, and potentially scalable nanomanufacturing route toward synthesizing high quality perovskite thin films in a rapid and high throughput fashion. This strategy conceptually mimics the advantageous self-organizing features of emulsion droplets where the use of a binary solvent system, concurrently and continuously, initiates a three-stage process of coalescence, spreading, and merging, thus optimizing thin film morphology upon deposition without the needs for additional engineering steps. The resulting perovskite thin film not only exhibits a smooth topology with the root mean square roughness of only a few nm, but also reveals hybrid morphology where micron-sized grains intersperse between interconnected, and continuous crystalline networks. This gives rise to the highest power conversion efficiency of 16.50 % and average 14.68%, representing a nearly two-fold increase compared to that of conventional spray-pyrolysis approach. As a final critical aspect, the proposed strategy contributes new insights to efficiently managing the environmentally hazardous lead during processing, significantly reducing the amount by two orders of magnitude compared to that of spin-coating to achieve the same thin film thickness.