|Name of Faculty Member||Title of Project||Brief Description of Project|
|Prof Chen Zhong||Surface engineering of materials||Functionalized surfaces for a series of value-adding applications, including wear resistance, corrosion resistance, self-cleaning, self-healing, anti-fogging, and anti-icing.|
|Nanostructured semiconductor oxides for energy and environmental applications||Design and synthesis of oxide nanostructures for environmental and energy applications including photocatalytic pollutant treatment, artificial photosynthesis, and energy storage.|
|Mechanical behaviour of materials||Strength, deformation, fracture, fatigue, creep, wear of metals, ceramics & composites; Mechanical behavior of thin films, surfaces, and interfaces.|
|Prof Hu Xiao||Functional polymers, hybrid nanomaterials and composites||The project aims to study the underlying principles of design, synthesis and processing of new materials for targeted end applications, e.g., for environment, sustainability and homeland security. We use a wide range of materials characterization tools including those for mechanical, thermal, dielectric, conductivity, EMI shielding, photonic and electronic properties. We also study materials with special catalytic, phase-changing, surface/interfacial, and stimuli responsive properties.|
|Prof Jason Xu Zhichuan||Transition metal oxides for water splitting reaction with a consideration of electron spin||A hydrogen energy infrastructure is built on an energy cycle, in which the renewable electricity will power the water splitting to produce hydrogen and then hydrogen is used as fuel to generate electricity to users by fuel cells. Such an energy cycle is enabled by hydrogen as the energy carrier and the zero-carbon emission can be expected. However, technical bottlenecks exist to implement the hydrogen energy infrastructure. For example, one of them is about the water splitting technique, which uses catalysts to enable the water splitting however suffers from the low energy efficiency and the high cost of catalysts. The solution has to be found by exploring better catalysts with higher efficiency and lower cost. This project aims to develop better and cheap catalysts for water splitting through exploring the science of a new phenomenon revealed recently. The water splitting involves two half reactions, the hydrogen evolution at the cathode and the oxygen evolution at the anode. The latter is the major technical barrier for high cost and low efficiency of water electrolysis. The same catalyst issue also stands for the fuel cell technique, which is the device to use hydrogen for electricity generation but hindered by the low efficiency and high cost of oxygen reduction catalysts. Recently, the team has found that the magnetic properties of the metal oxide catalysts are influential on the performance of oxygen electrocatalysis. This is due to the fact that the oxygen evolution and reduction in nature are not magnetic moment balanced between the reactant and the product. For example, in oxygen evolution the reactant is singlet oxygen such as water and oxyhydroxide anion with a diamagnetic property and the product is triplet oxygen with a paramagnetic property. The conversion between them will involve the spin-selected electron transfer, which may affect the reaction kinetics of oxygen evolution at the anode and further influence the water splitting efficiency. The project will discover the spin-channels in possible metal oxide catalysts and to reveal its positive effect on promoting the catalyst performance.|
|Cell material design for safer rechargeable Li ion batteries||Li-ion batteries (LIBs) are the domain energy storage devices for high-energy applications, such as cell phone, laptops, and electric vehicles. Although LIB technology is well established, and LIBs are widely used, severe safety issues associated with the use of LIBs are still often reported. Most LIB safety incidents occur during charging due to thermal runaway caused by the internal short-circuit which leads to battery fire. This project is to develop material solutions as well as new cell design for safer batteries. The experimental work will focus on developing effective cell materials for safer membranes, electrodes, and electrolytes. The success of this project will lead to new safety techniques for rechargeable LIB batteries as well as further commercialization opportunities.|
|Prof Ng Kee Woei||Upcycling of Nature-Derived Biopolymers for Agritechnology Applications||Overcoming climate change has become the greatest challenge to modern society. Materials scientists and engineers can play an active role in contributing to this global cause by developing sustainable technologies in a wide range of applications. In our group, we are developing sustainable materials for agritechnology and packaging applications, through upcycling of nature-derived biopolymers. In agritechnology, we have developed new approaches to deliver agrichemicals for urban farming. In packaging applications, we have developed fully biodegradable bioplastics. We are seeking motivated PhD students to continue these developments through fundamental understanding of material behaviour and to discover new platforms. The PhD candidate is expected to enrol in Jan or Aug 2023.|
|Prof Raju V. Ramanujan||Magnetic Soft Robotics|
This project will focus on the design, development, fabrication, and performance evaluation of novel magnet-polymer composite structures for soft robotic applications. This project forms part of a large NRF CREATE funded program on soft robotics.
For more details, please visit https://personal.ntu.edu.sg/ramanujan .
|Accelerated development of materials|
This project will study the accelerated development of next generation materials. A combination of AI/ML tools, high throughput experiments, multiscale modeling and simulation and thermodynamic predictions will be employed in this project.
For more details, please visit https://personal.ntu.edu.sg/ramanujan .
|Magnetic curing of polymers|
We will focus on the basic and applied aspects of our recently developed technology of magnetic curing of polymers. Materials and system level engineering aspects will be studied in detail.
For more details, please visit https://personal.ntu.edu.sg/ramanujan .
|Assoc Prof Alfred Tok||High Entropy Alloys via Atomic Layer Deposition||High-entropy alloy (HEA) coatings comprise multiple (five or more) principal elements that give superior mechanical (specific strength/hardness), electrical (superconductivity) and thermal (thermal conductivity/stability) properties. However, conventional approaches towards the synthesis of HEA involve harsh treatments such as, extreme temperatures (up to 2000 K), high power (arc, laser, carbothermal shock, etc.) and intense mechanical treatment (grinding, ball milling, etc.). In addition, these processes still encounter drawbacks in precisely controlling specifications of the resulting HEA coatings such as, chemical composition, thickness, grain size, etc. This project proposes a novel two-step approach consisting of atomic layer deposition (ALD) of laminated alloy constituents and subsequent spark plasma sintering (SPS) to enable facile, precise and controllable fabrication of HEA coating on various substrates. This approach enables the direct integration of 2D and 3D HEA coated devices with strong interlayer adhesion, avoiding troublesome processes in conventional methods such as, preparation of bulk HEA precursors, inconsistent microstructure or introduction of additional solvents/dispersants. By employing corresponding simulation on the relationships between microstructure and properties (heat transfer, anti-oxidation/corrosion, etc.) of the HEA, the design and fabrication of HEA coating with customized composition, microstructure and properties can be achieved.|
|Assoc Prof Andrew Grimsdale||Singlet fission materials to enhance efficiency of solar cells||In conjunction with Prof Lam Yeng Ming, materials are synthesized and evaluated for singlet fission properties. Suitable materials will be tested in solar cells to see if device efficiency can be enhanced.|
|Furan-based materials for sustainable organic electronics||Furan-based analogues of thiophene-based high performing organic electronic materials will be made and tested as organic electronic materials in order to develop high performing materials made from sustainable resources.|
|Assoc Prof Dong Zhili||Synthesis of Hierarchical Porous Materials using Expanded Solvents and Supercritical Fluids||Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) and zeolites are important classes of porous materials. MOFs are suggested as next generation materials for gas separation and storage and zeolites are extensively used as solid-state catalysts for numerous applications. Their ability to perform these functions is intrinsically linked to structural characteristics, such as high surface area, for increasing gas storage capabilities and catalytic activity, and well-defined pore dimensions, which control diffusion and separation of molecules and selectivity of catalytic products. Traditionally, these materials are synthesized via hydrothermal methods with the use of organic structure-directing agents. In addition to the low atom economy of this strategy, a common synthetic problem is the removal of the organic template and solvent molecules from the pores without causing them to collapse. Due to the high aspect ratio of micro- and meso-pores, capillary forces are very strong, and high vacuum and elevated temperatures are needed to extract all organics, entailing various degrees of structural deterioration. Compressible gases as near- or supercritical fluids have unique physico-chemical properties, which have been exploited for large-scale synthesis of aerogels. In this project, we want to explore the possibility of coupling MOF and zeolite synthesis in the presence of compressed carbon dioxide with the solvent extraction step, in order to create tailored structures without the need for structure-directing templating agents. Applying moderate pressures of carbon dioxide to organic solvents (5-50 bar) causes them to swell by the very large dissolution of the gas, resulting in a continuum of pressure-tuneable changes in density, diffusivity and surface tension. This effect will be exploited for control over material morphology, coupled with a highly efficient post-synthetic purification method.|
|Assoc Prof Joachim Loo||Designer drug and probiotic delivery systems||Designing novel delivery systems that can enhance the uptake of drugs, nutrients or probiotics.|
|Next generation aquaculture fish feeds||Enhancing growth rates and disease resistance in aquaculture through encapsulation systems.|
|Delivery systems from waste: A circular economy||Valorizing food and industrial waste into high value-adding delivery systems.|
|Assoc Prof Liu Zheng||2D MEMRISTORS FOR IN-MEMORY-PROCESSING APPLICATIONS|
Data transfer between processing and memory units in modern computing systems has become a main bottleneck for performance and energy-efficiency. Memristors have been extensively investigated as a promising candidate for future non-volatile in-memory-processing applications. This is because memristors can store information at the sub-2-nm scale and possess many other desired properties, including high speed, low energy consumption, three-dimensional integration capability, and compatibility with complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technologies.
This project will aim at the demonstration of 2D memristors network for in-memory-processing applications. The novel 2D memristors will combine the superior scalability of 2D materials with resistive switching mechanism to provide a solution to realize Boolean functions.
The basic structure of the memristors is a two-terminal three-layered stack, consisting of a switching layer sandwiched between two metallic electrodes, which will be patterned and fabricated by e-beam lithography. The switching layer will be screened from a range of 2D semiconductors and insulators synthesized by chemical vapor transport or chemical vapor deposition method. Mechanical transfer method will be applied in the device construction process.
Fabricated memristors will be optimized to achieve reasonably good ON/OFF ratio, retention, and endurance. Finally, memristor arrays will be constructed to realise Boolean functions such as NOR function.
|CONTROLLED SYNTHESIS OF LARGE-SCALE UNIFORM TWISTED BILAYER GRAPHENE BY CVD|
When 2 monolayer graphene layers are stacked together to form bilayer graphene, especially when the lattice of the upper and lower layers is twisted, the superlattice is formed. The weak interlayer interaction makes the twisited bilayer
graphene (TwBLG) interlayer coupling, thus forming completely new electronic states.
These new electronic states are linked to the twised angles and gives rise to innovative electrical properties, optical properties, and so on. Remarkably, recent experiments on TwBLG with a small twisted angle discovered metal-insulator
transition and superconductivity at low temperature by tuning the carrier density and applying the magnetic field.
However, the preparation of TwBLG with specific angles is still in an initial stage, suffering from small size, poor controllability and low production, which limit its further research and application.This project aims to realize the controlled synthesis of large-scale uniform TwBLG with specific twisted angles by CVD method through substrate design. The unique properties and applications of the as-grown TwBLG will be also studied.
|Electrode Architecture Design for Effective Bubble Control|
Gas evolution is frequently encountered in many important industrial reactions, including hydrogen evolution reaction, oxygen evolution reaction, and CO2 reduction. These reactions are promising approaches and core technologies to achieve zero-carbon. However, the generated surface gas bubbles significantly affect the energy and mass transfer of the electrode. For example, they can block electrocatalyst surface and ion-conducting pathways in the electrolyte, resulting in energy loss. Therefore, controlling the formation, transport and rapid removal of gas bubbles is the key to making efficient hydrogen production electrolysers or carbon neutral systems.
Based on preliminary results, this project aims to effectively control the generation and removal of bubbles through electrode architecture design.
In this project, students will develop high-level research skills and will likely operate a 3D flexible printer and a laser writer to their own. This project requires sufficient time and energy investment.
|Accelerated Discovery of 2D Magnets With Machine Learning|
Two-dimensional (2D) magnetism is nowadays at the core of numerous research advances. It is expected to help fulfil the dream of ever-smaller post-silicon electronics with just a few atoms thick. Discovery of new 2D magnetic materials is thus crucial for the investigation and application of the intriguing 2D magnetism. However, rapid discovery remains challenging due to the limited understanding of 2D magnets and low efficiency of traditional trial-and-error methods, especially when thousands of material candidates are treated. To cope with the increased complexity of materials, it is imperative to introduce state-of-the-art techniques to accelerate the materials discovery process.In this project, supervised machine learning (ML) methods will be adopted to accelerate the discovery of new 2D magnets. Physical and chemical descriptors of the known 2D magnets along with the targeted properties such as stability and magnetism will be used for the training of machine learning models. A well-trained model will then be applied to explore new 2D magnets. Upon the identification of ideal materials, experiments will then be conducted for verification and feedback.
|Controlled syntheses of 2D 3R-phase transition metal dichalcogenides with intrinsic inversion symmetry breaking|
Symmetry breaking in two-dimensional (2D) transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) has attracted increasing attention due to its prominent role in electronical, magnetic, and optical properties, such as ferroelectricity, nonlinear optics, valley-contrasting physics, spin-polarization effects, unconventional superconductivity.
2D TMDs generally feature three polytypes, including 1-trigonal (1T), 2-hexagonal (2H), and 3-rhombohedral (3R) phases. 2H-TMDs are semiconductors with inversion symmetry. Although1T-TMDs preserve inversion symmetry breaking, they usually display metallic properties and air sensitivity. In contrast, 3R-TMDs with intrinsic inversion symmetry breaking provide a natural platform for diverse applications as mentioned above.
However, the research on high-quality 3R-TMDs’ growth is in the start stage. Only one example 3R-MoS2 crystals are obtained via chemical vapor transport (CVT). Thus, this project aims to explore more 2D 3R-TMDs single crystals with high quality via CVT method, and explore the growth mechanism of 3R phase, these 3R-TMDs’ properties, such as SHG, ferroelectricity.
|Assoc Prof Terry W.J. Steele||Hot Melt Tissue Adhesives||Design of biomaterial tissue fixatives that replace sutures and stitches. PhD/MS project will advance hot melt glue gun designs that that allow adhesion to soft tissues with complete degradation after four weeks.|
|Magneto-activated biomaterial composites||Design of biomaterials that are activated through alternative magnetic fields with magnetic nanoparticles. PhD/MS project will advance magneto composites that that allow adhesion and actuation of soft materials.|
|Electroceutical biomaterial composites||Design of biomaterials that are activated through direct and alternating currents (AC/DC) of conductive biomaterials. PhD/MS project will advance electrocuring and electroceutical concepts within biomaterials for future medical implants.|
|Asst Prof Cznary Bertrand||Nanoparticles and biomaterials encapsulated drugs for treatment of brain inflammatory diseases||The blood brain barrier (BBB) is a major hurdle in the effective therapeutic treatment of CNS diseases; it restricts penetration of over 98% of small molecule drugs. Drug encapsulation into carrier systems can help to overcome this hurdle by improving the therapeutic index of drugs. However, conventional carrier systems have limited success in non-invasively treating CNS diseases. Lately, exosomes have been acknowledged as potential carrier systems and proved to be therapeutically effective in treating brain tumors and Parkinson in rodents. Yet, production yield of exosomes is very limited. In order to preserve the beneficial properties of exosomes but create a more feasible workflow, we developed cell derived nanovesicles (CDN) who have similar protein-lipid composition to exosomes and contain their key protein markers. The objective is to validate BBB penetration of these CDNs and others specific nanocarriers, achieve encapsulating efficiency, and demonstrate their potential as carriers in the case of CNS diseases such as stroke or Parkinson's disease by targeting and accumulating these nanoparticles in the inflamed area. This project will be focused on the design and development of nanomedicines to treat inflammatory diseases, with large emphasis on translational in vivo pre-clinical studies. The main objective is to design and develop nanoparticles with high efficacy and safety for pre-clinical studies and choose nanomaterials in relation with the drug and the disease.|