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Nanostructured Multifunctional Materials: Metal‐Organic Frameworks and Carbon Nanotubes
with Bin Mu, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate, Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT

Thursday, January 17, 2013
10 a.m.
Goldwater (GWC) 487
[Download the seminar flier]

The past two decades have seen an explosion of research in nanostructured porous materials. In particular, synthesis, post modification, and functionalization of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have attracted tremendous interest since their formal discovery in 1995 and 1991, respectively. MOFs are constructed by the self-assembly coordination process of metal cations, such as Cu+2 or Zn+2, and organic ligands, such as carboxylates or amines, to form extended periodic structures. Hydrothermal or solvothermal synthesis techniques are normally employed to produce these beautiful crystals. As an important new class of organic-inorganic hybrid materials, MOFs possess many unique advantages over traditional porous materials such as activated carbon and zeolites, which extend their potential range of use to anew multidisciplinary territory. In this seminar, Mu will present his Ph.D. work focused on the design, synthesis and characterization of MOFs, and experimental studies of gas adsorption capacity, selectivity, and kinetics in these nanoporous materials.

As an important class of low-dimensional materials (LDMs), where the electrons within them are confined to less than three dimensions, single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) possess new and unusual properties, including quantum effects and a series of singularities in the density of states. Conceptually, SWNT can be regarded as a graphene sheet rolled at a certain chiral angle, where the chiral angle and the tube diameter determine the exact form of the density of state of the resulting SWNT, whether it is metallic, semimetallic or semiconducting, and the size of its band gap. The occurrence of Hove singularities is the reason for many of the and electronic properties of LDMs, which also impart SWNT with new opportunities for novel engineering applications. This seminar will briefly introduce Mu’s current project on molecular recognition using nanotube-adsorbed polymer and biopolymer phases, whereby Mu and his research partners are pioneering a novel solution-phase detection system for a variety of biological analytes including small signaling molecules, saccharides, and proteins.

The construction of planned research is based on a creative combination of  previous research experience in material science and engineering applications. The core topic of Mu’s research is to design nanostructured materials and to develop nanoengineered  platforms for various interdisciplinary applications. The driving force behind Mu’s research topic is to advance current technological solutions of urgent issues from different areas such as energy gas storage, greenhouse gases capture, biomolecular detection, and delivery. In addition, as an aspiring faculty member in chemical engineering, Mu’s major objectives also include demonstrating the relevance of science and mathematics to students; culturing, triggering and leading the curiosity of students; and fostering the abilities and habits of students beyond a certain learning area including critical thinking and lifelong learning.

Bin Mu is currently a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts  Institute of Technology (MIT), working with Professor Michael Strano. His project explores the application of semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) in biomedical fields including glucose sensing, saccharide detection, and protein recognition. Before this, Mu completed his Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2011 with Professor Krista Walton, where his doctoral dissertation focused on fundamental and applied studies of a new class of porous materials (Metal-Organic Frameworks, MOFs) for adsorption applications. He received his B.S. and M.S., both in chemical engineering from the East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST) in Shanghai, China.

Since 2009, Mu has published more than 15 research papers,which have been cited more than 100 times, and one of his publications was collected in New Talent themed issue of CrystEngComm. He received several awards for excellence in his studying and research including W. H.Honstead Fellowship, Excellent Paper Award and ECUST Fellowship. He is also an independent peer reviewer for several high-impact research journals including Journal of the American Chemical Society, Chemical Communications, Dalton Transactions, CrystEngComm and Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research.

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