Liquid-based materials are very attractive, one of the technologies to build liquid-based materials is liquid gating technology. “Liquid Gating Technology” was selected as the 2020 “Top Ten Emerging Technologies in Chemistry” by International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, IUPAC. The liquid gating technology is used for breaking through the limitation of the solid-based materials, because liquid gating technology can endow the materials with both soft (liquid phase) and hard (solid phase) parts with different functions as the liquid-based materials, which have a dynamic response to external stimulus. Liquid gating technology could also provide the new strategies to convert the basic scientific issues of membrane materials from the solid-liquid/solid-gas interface to the liquid-liquid/liquid-gas interface, which would bring more possibilities to the design of the smart functional systems in the application of water treatment, chemical detection, environmental science, energy, and other interdisciplinary fields.
Multi-scale pores and channels systems
"Pore" and "Channel" are everywhere, e.g., from small biological ion channels to large oil pipelines. The difference between pore and channel is the relationship between its diameter and its depth. If the diameter is greater than its depth, it is referred to as Pore, otherwise, Channel. Both “Pore” and “Channel” have a wide range of significant applications on different scales. For example, pipelines which are commonly used in the chemical industry, food industry, agriculture, and energy-petroleum transportation, can be treated as macro-scale channels. The problems with such channels center on energy-saving, anti-fouling, anti-corrosion, and anti-block. A good example of micro scale channel is microfluidics, which has a great impact in the areas of chemical synthesis, biological analysis, optics and information technology, etc. The developments of biomedicine, biotechnology, food industry, chemical reaction, membrane science, and sensors all benefit from the development of microfluidic systems. The big issues that exist for microfluidic systems are energy-aving, anti-fouling, anti-corrosion, anti-block, controllability, and good stability. On the nano-scale, the nanochannels which led to the birth of a whole new area of research, are used for nanofluidics, gas separation and capture, batteries, water purification, energy harvest, and DNA sorting. Nanochannel systems bring not only good opportunities for huge developments in biotechnology, nanotechnology, molecular biology, and biomimetic system to real-world applications, but also unprecedentedly new challenges of controllability, stability, energy generation, and anti-fouling in such confined space.
Dynamic fluidic interfaces
Fluid constitutes structural materials to create dynamic interfaces. Our research focuses on new approaches to design dynamic fluidic interfaces for mass transport and separation, microfluidics, catalysis sensing, 4D printing, etc.
Bioinspired approaches for micro/nano devices
Structures from Nature have remarkable properties, many of which have inspired laboratory research. Bioinspired materials and devices are attracting increasing interest because of their unique properties, which have paved the way for many significant applications. For example, ion channels that exist in living organisms play important roles in maintaining normal physiological conditions and serve as “smart” gates to ensure selective ion transport. Normal body function depends strongly on the regulation of ion transport inside these nanochannels. Thus, designing a system that simulates these complex processes in living systems is a challenging task for nanoscience and biotechnology. Nature brings us endless bioinspired physicochemical ideas to better the development of novel artificial materials and micro/nano devices that enable us to potentially overcome these obstacles. Bioinspired approaches owe much of their current development in biology, chemistry, materials science, medicine, energy, and engineering to the design and fabrication of advanced devices.
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