Published on 28 Nov 2023

New Catalysts, New Reactions and New Functional Materials by Prof Hou Zhaomin

IAS STEM Graduate Colloquium Jointly Organised with the Graduate Students' Clubs

The IAS and the Graduate Student’s Club of CCEB, SPMS, and MSE jointly organised the colloquium titled "New Catalysts, New Reactions and New Functional Materials", featuring Prof Hou Zhaomin. He is the Group Director of Advanced Catalysis Research at RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, and the Director of the Organometallic Chemistry Laboratory at RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research.

During the colloquium, Prof Hou Zhaomin delved into the noteworthy milestones attained in organometallic chemistry. He shared profound insights into a novel cohort of organometallic catalysts meticulously crafted by him, ushering in a realm where distinctive and efficient chemical transformations occur, paving the way for the creation of avant-garde polymers.

In addition, Prof Hou addressed the overarching issue of ligand redistribution, offering valuable insights into his proposed approach to tackle this challenge. This discussion underscored the crucial importance of advancing catalyst development in the realms of both chemical synthesis and materials progression.

The strides made in organometallic chemistry, with a specific focus on the rare and stable Lanthanides, stand out as noteworthy accomplishments. Prof Hou elucidated the noteworthy developments, particularly in the context of the remarkable formation of Ln-C and Ln-H bonds. Moreover, he shed light on a groundbreaking achievement - the inception of the first syndiospecific living polymerisation of styrene. This transformative process utilised cationic half sandwich rare earth alkyls, further enhancing the repertoire of possibilities in polymerization techniques.

In addition to his prior achievements, Prof Hou Zhaomin has innovatively pioneered a technique for copolymerising styrene with ethylene utilising a Ti-catalyst. Furthermore, he successfully executed oxygen-assisted alpha olefin polymerisation employing the Sc catalyst.

Notably, the colloquium featured his groundbreaking work in the development of a self-healing polymer, exemplified through the demonstration of a cut-and-heal polymer. He shared several videos illustrating the polymer's remarkable ability to reattach itself even after undergoing cutting or breaking.  

(From left) Prof Hou's interesting video on self healing polymer. | Enthusiastic audience with Prof Hou after his lecture.

Following the presentation, the audience actively engaged in the Q&A and posed questions such as the healing time and duration required for the polymer to recover after being severed. Prof Hou adeptly addressed these queries, providing insightful responses. His useful suggestions and advice garnered applause from the audience.

"The videos presented by Prof Hou during the presentation were very interesting." - Yadav Yasharth Bachubhai (PhD Student, SPMS)

"The self healing polymer for flexible materials is interesting." - Neha Singhal (PhD Student, MSE)

"Professor’s enthusiasm about his research." - Beibitkyzy Aruzhan (PhD Student, CCEB)

Watch the Video recording.

Written by Vaibhavi Shah (MSE Graduate Students' Club) and Zhang Xuewen (CCEB Graduate Students' Club)