Bioinspired materials for sustainable energy and environmental applications

Study level

Master of Philosophy
Vacation research experience scheme


In nature, biological species have evolved optimal structures for millions of years with amazing characteristics and swift stimulus-responsive capabilities to suit their living environment, which give inspirations for designing smart functional materials. Many of these smart materials have surfaces that dynamically alter their physicochemical properties in response to changes in their environmental conditions and to triggered control of interfacial properties. In this project, novel bio-inspired interfaces and surfaces with switchable wettability will be developed based on the understanding of the relationships among the composition, structures, and properties of biological surfaces by the means of combinations of modern analytical technologies and tools.

Research Activities

This project is experimental in nature and contains three research tasks, namely, (1) microstructure-function relationship study of the target natural species, (2) design and synthesis of bio-inspired nanostructures and interfaces, and (3) property evaluation and application of the bio-inspired interfaces in emerging energy storage and conversion devices and sustainable environmental remediation technologies.


The structural features of the natural species will be first analysed by using environmental scanning electronic microscopes and high magnification/speed camera for establishing the fluid mechanical models. Then the nanostructured bioinspired coatings will be fabricated, and the dynamic wetting behaviours and the fluidity will be characterized. Finally, the lab-scale fabrication of bioinspired nanostructured coatings will be performed to realized superfast wetting and diffusion, ultrafast ion transport, and high-throughput ion selectivity.

Skills and experience

Background in chemistry, physics, materials, mechanical engineering all are welcome.

Other Team Members

Dr Emiliana Fabbri, PSI-Sweden Professor Lei Jiang, CAS