HKIAS continues to flourish with new Distinguished Lectures Series on Chemistry

Education | 19 Apr 2021

The Hong Kong Institute for Advanced Study (HKIAS) at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) provides a platform that facilitates intellectual exchange and interdisciplinary collaborations to address real-world problems.

As a leading global university, CityU founded HKIAS in 2015, intending to assemble top-notch researchers across diverse disciplines to present innovative ideas that contribute to creating a better world.

Asia is recovering from the global pandemic quicker than any other region in the world, and research and knowledge exchange at HKIAS has not been hampered. Embracing the new normal, the institute has taken advantage of the Internet to connect scholars and stakeholders worldwide.

According to metrics compiled by Stanford University, over 140 full-time faculty members at the CityU are listed among the top 2% of the world’s most highly cited scientists, of whom eight are HKIAS members, reflecting its excellent academic stature.

Among them are Professor Sir Colin Blakemore, Professor Philippe G. Ciarlet, Professor Way Kuo, Professor Chain-Tsuan Liu, Professor Jian Lu, and Professor David J. Srolovitz, who are the Senior Fellows of HKIAS*; Professor Tei-Wei Kuo, Former Visiting Fellow of HKIAS; and Professor Jacob C. Huang, Executive Director of HKIAS. Besides, three speakers of the HKIAS Distinguished Lecture Series on Chemistry held this spring are also listed.

HKIAS Distinguished Lecture Series on Chemistry

Following the success of the Distinguished Lecture series last semester, HKIAS has introduced three distinguished online lectures on the Chemistry series with support in part by Kwang Hua Educational Foundation.

Held in March and April, the series has attracted close to a thousand scholars and guests to attend via the video conferencing platform Zoom. To inspire audiences and stimulate new thinking, the lectures have united current remarkable ideas in chemistry, materials sciences and beyond to unlock new and fascinating ideas about our everyday life.

Powering the world with printable solar cells

Energy impacts many things in our daily life and striking a balance between energy demand and environmental sustainability has long been a subject of debate. Addressing the challenge, Professor Alex Jen, Lee Shau-Kee Chair Professor of Materials Science, and Chair Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science at CityU, delivered a lecture titled “Printable Solar Cells for Transformative Clean Energy and Sustainable Society” on 3 March.

“Solar power is a potential solution as it can generate the largest amount of energy,” said Professor Jen. “The question is ‘do we have enough devices to store or generate the power?’”

He introduced the printable solar cells, an innovative energy-saving application, and highlighted the organic solar cells (OSC) and perovskite solar cells (PVSCs) as two significant materials with immense potential among different printable solar cell technologies, as well as their barriers in application with possible solutions.

“The application for printable solar cell is broad, such as wearable gadgets and portable power source,” he said. “I hope the manufacturing of printable solar-like organic printable cells would be like printing newspaper and easily scaled up on production.”

Development of Phase Engineering of Nanomaterials

Well-known for his work in nanomaterials, Professor Hua Zhang, Herman Hu Chair Professor of Nanomaterials at CityU, delivered a lecture titled “Phase Engineering of Nanomaterials (PEN)” on 31 March.

In his lecture, Professor Zhang first reviewed recent research on PEN published on Nature Reviews Chemistry by his group, which particularly focuses on the rational design and synthesis of novel nanomaterials with unconventional phases for various promising applications.

In response to the question of ‘how to synthesize nanomaterials’, he stressed that normally the control of composition, morphology, size, dimension and facet is important. Differently, his group focuses on the phase control of nanomaterials, especially the unconventional crystal phases and amorphous structures.

He highlighted three key studies in his group, namely Ultrathic noble metal nanomaterials, Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), and Epitaxial growth of heterostructures, which can enhance the performance of the application.

“Although PEN is still under development, it’s an important topic,” said Professor Zhang. “Its future applications are diverse, such as in catalysis, surface-enhanced Raman scattering, waveguide, and clean energy.”

Wide applications of Charge-Transfer Complexes

Concluding the Distinguished Chemistry Series was Professor Chun-Sing Lee, Head of Chemistry Department and Chair Professor of Materials Chemistry at CityU, who delivered a lecture titled “Charge-Transfer Complexes and their Applications” on 8 April.

At the start of the lecture, Professor Lee tried to define the Charge-Transfer Complexes (CTCs). “People call CTC in different ways, and there is still no precise definition agreed by all,” he explained. Adopting a simple definition, he called CTC “a substantial charge transfer between donor and acceptor to give different properties from parents.”

He introduced the characteristic signatures of CTCs, such as red-shifted, broadened emission and absorption, highlighting that they can influence both solar cells and LED devices. Additionally, the wide applications of CTCs were also explained, including optoelectronic devices, biomedicine, energy and environment, along with various examples.

“The formation of CTC is a simple way of getting new and unconventional properties from organic materials,” he said, stressing that they have various novel applications beyond optoelectronics.

Upcoming events of HKIAS

Going ahead, HKIAS will continue to present another brand new series titled HKIAS Distinguished Series on Physics, featuring three prominent scholars at CityU. For more information about HKIAS upcoming events, please visit:

* By alphabetical order of surname


Hong Kong Institute for Advanced Study, City University of Hong Kong



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