Sustainable energy and clean environment are key global challenges in the 21st century. Dr Song's research interests are focused on design and synthesis of porous materials for energy and environmental applications, in applications such as membranes for molecular separations, heterogeneous catalysis, combustion, and energy conversion and storage.
Recent materials research include nanostructured mixed metal oxides for combustion and low carbon energy processes (Energy Environ. Sci. 2013), and cutting-edge microporous materials and their applications in membranes for gas separations, notably metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and polymer/MOF composites (Energy Environ. Sci. 2012), polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) (Nature Communications, 2013; Nature Communications, 2014; Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2016), novel porous molecular materials known as porous organic cages (Advanced Materials, 2016), and microporous polymer nanofilm membranes (Nature Materials, 2016).
Rational design of these novel materials for functional applications requires a fundamental understanding of their physical and chemical properties at the molecular level, such as chemical structure, macromolecular structure and crystalline structure, and linking the structures with their bulk properties over multi-magnitudes of scale. To solve these questions, the group uses an interdisciplinary approach involving chemistry, physics, materials science, chemical engineering science, and cutting-edge nanotechnology. A broad scientific approach is used aiming to understand their physical and chemical properties that dominate the processes of molecular and ionic transport, adsorption/absorption and diffusion, and chemical reactions. The group are working on synthetic chemistry and collaborating extensively with chemists and materials scientists. Extensive physical and chemical characterization techniques are used to establish the structure-property relationships, building a fundamental background for their scale-up and commercialization to industrially useful products.