Recently, the top journal in materials science Advanced Energy Materials published a Special Issue on Nano-Energy Materials at Peking University. This Special Issue contains 8 Reviews, 11 Progress Reports and 1 Research News Highlight, which provides a comprehensive overview on the most updated research developments in nano- and energy-related areas, including the work done by the faculty in MSE and other colleges at Peking University. These areas cover catalysis, high-efficiency energy conversion and storage systems, low-dimensional materials and heterostructures, and porous materials for energy and environmental applications.
In the area of catalysis, several Reviews are included to discuss controlled synthesis of rare earth-doped ceria-based nanocatalysts for water-gas-shift reaction and CO oxidation (by Prof. Chun-Hua Yan), progress in black titania and its photocatalytic activity (by Prof. Fuqiang Huang), electrocatalysis-active products derived from metal-organic frameworks (by Prof. Ruqiang Zou), Pt-based multimetallic nanocrystals for highly efficient oxygen reduction catalysts (by Prof. Shaojun Guo), and non-Pt nanostructured catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction (by Prof. Dingguo Xia).
In the area of energy conversion systems, research progresses in organic or perovskite-based solar cells, carbon nanotube-based or plasmon-enhanced devices are reviewed. These include the discussion of hole-transporting materials in planar perovskite solar cells (by Prof. Zhiwei Liu and Zuqiang Bian), interface design from the perspective of processing chemistry and photophysics of carriers in perovskite solar cells (by Prof. Huanping Zhou), perovskite solar cells with inverted structure (by Prof. Rui Zhu), layer-by-layer processed organic solar cells (by Prof. Xiaowei Zhan), high-performance carbon nanotube infrared photodectors (by Prof. Lian-Mao Peng), and metal/semiconductor heterostructures for plasmon-enhanced photocatalytic and photovoltaic applications (by Prof. Xuefeng Guo). Prof. Qiang Sun also talks about recent advances in understanding and how to break scaling relations for electrochemical conversion of CO2.
In the area of energy storage, there are 3 Reviews that discuss the application of nanostructured anode materials in lithium ion batteries (by Prof. Yanglong Hou), design of pliable (bendable, compressible or stretchable) electrodes in different configurations for flexible electrochemical energy storage such as supercapacitors and batteries (by Prof. Ray P. S. Han), and preparation of carbon nanomaterials in different dimensions for electrochemical energy storage (by Prof. Yan Li).
In the area of low-dimensional materials, Prof. Yanfeng Zhang summarizes controlled synthesis of monolayer transition metal dichalcogenides and vertically stacked heterojunctions with graphene, and Prof. Zhongfan Liu highlights the fabrication techniques and energy harvesting applications of graphene/h-BN heterostructures.
Finally, there are three Reviews on porous materials including three-dimensional (3D) isotropic carbon nanotube sponges, aerogels and composites as compressible energy storage electrodes (by Prof. Xuchun Gui and Anyuan Cao), 3D magnetic assemblies for environmental applications such as water purification and beyond (by Prof. Jin Zhang), and 2D zeolites for catalysis application (by Prof. Junliang Sun).
The issue also serves as an opportunity to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). MSE was initiated by Dean Shiyi Chen and Prof. Zhonglin Wang one year after the re-building of the College of Engineering (CoE) in 2005 at Peking University. At that time, it was named as the Department of Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, with a mission to promote scientific research on emerging advanced materials and related technology, rather than traditional materials.
With the support from CoE and other colleges (Chemistry, Physics, and Information) at Peking University, MSE has experienced a successful development over the past decade in various aspects. Under a strict recruitment standard and the tenure-track system, the MSE faculty number has grown steadily to currently 17 and is expected to reach 25 in several years. Most of faculty have long-term research or teaching experience abroad, and a majority of them are recipients of prestigious funding or talent programs such as Chang Jiang Scholars of Ministry of Education, Outstanding Young Researchers of National Science Foundation of China (NSFC), Excellent Young Researchers of NSFC, and recently recruited faculty are all through the Young 1000 Talent Programs of China. They are actively pursuing cutting-edge research in the following areas: 1) nanomaterials and micro-nano devices, 2) new energy materials and devices, 3) biomedical materials and devices, and 4) organic polymers and composite materials. Annually received external competitive funding has stabilized at about 2 million Yuan per faculty in recent years, which is among the highest level through the university. At present, there are 45 undergraduate and more than 100 postgraduate students (most of which are PhD candidates) in the department.