(1) Novel and Functional Nanoporous Materials
Our groups is very active in synthesizing novel and ceramic-based nanoporous materials, including carbon, boron nitride and zeolites. These nanoporous materials were applied in functional applications, including
(A) CO2 separation:Different types of novel nanoporous materials that we apply for CO2separation are heteroatom (including nitrogen & sulfur)-doped nanoporous carbons and zeolites. We investigate adsorptive CO2 separation by low and high pressure adsorption, breakthrough measurement and different types of computation techniques.
(B) Hydrocarbon separation: Different types of hydrogen separation needs include natural gas purification, inert gas rejection of natural gas, isolation of natural gas liquid (NGL) and paraffin-olefin separation, including ethane-ethylene and propane-propylene separation. We employ advanced adsorbent materials, including boron nitride and metal-doped nanoporous carbons to investigate hydrocarbon separation.
(c) Methane storage: On-board storage of natural gas in highly important for employing methane as automobile fuels. Adsorbed natural gas (ANG) is one of the smart strategies to store large amounts of methane within the automobile at a less stringent condition of temperature and pressure. We investigate different types of nanoporous carbons for methane storage.
(d) Water Purification: Water purification is one of the key environmental needs of today. In the field of adsorption, our group is interested in removal of few selected heavy metals, including mercury, lead, chromium and few others. We employ heteroatom-doped nanoporous carbons to investigate the affinity-based and competitive adsorption of heavy-metals from water. The other aspects of water purification, including removal of toxins and pathogenic matters from water are performed by visible light photocatalysis and described in the next section.
(e) Separation and Enrichment of Rare Earth Elements: Rare earth elements (REEs) are seventeen elements of periodic table, which have specific applications in wide spectra of electronics, phosphors and optical devices, permanent magnets, power sources and different other military applications. Additionally, a larger fraction of REEs is termed as critical elements or energy critical elements owing to their critical role in energy sectors. They are not mined, processed or traded in large quantities. Recovering and enrichment of these REEs from end-of-life products is a smart strategy to maintain the supply-demand balance of those elements. We employ functionalized porous carbons to investigate the affinity based adsorption of REEs.
(f) Drug delivery: Nanoporous carbons are good candidates for drug and gene delivery within the human body. Nanoporous carbon can control the release of variety of biological cargo carriers by diffusion control mechanism. We develop different types of nanoporous carbons for drug and gene delivery purposes and investigate the biocompatibility of those materials.
(2) Visible Light Photocatalysis and Plasmonics
Photocatalysis is a phenomena in which certain semiconductor materials can be excited by light to generate electrons and holes in their conduction and valence bands, respectively. These electrons and holes can be harnessed to facilitate a particular chemical reaction in presence of light. We synthesize different types of novel graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4) structures and harness their photocatalysis ability to degrade different types of environmental pollutants in presence of visible light. Especially, we are interested in photocatalytic degradation of herbicides, pesticides, pathogens and pathogenic genetic materials. We also develop new types of 3D printed photoreactors to engineer the light harnessing ability photocatalysts.