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Creators/Authors contains: "Mao, Yimin"

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  1. Abstract

    Immobilization of biomolecules into porous materials could lead to significantly enhanced performance in terms of stability towards harsh reaction conditions and easier separation for their reuse. Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs), offering unique structural features, have emerged as a promising platform for immobilizing large biomolecules. Although many indirect methods have been used to investigate the immobilized biomolecules for diverse applications, understanding their spatial arrangement in the pores of MOFs is still preliminary due to the difficulties in directly monitoring their conformations. To gain insights into the spatial arrangement of biomolecules within the nanopores. We used in situ small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) to probe deuterated green fluorescent protein (d-GFP) entrapped in a mesoporous MOF. Our work revealed that GFP molecules are spatially arranged in adjacent nanosized cavities of MOF-919 to form “assembly” through adsorbate-adsorbate interactions across pore apertures. Our findings, therefore, lay a crucial foundation for the identification of proteins structural basics under confinement environment of MOFs.

  2. Optimization of charge generation in polymer blends is crucial for the fabrication of highly efficient polymer solar cells. While the impacts of the polymer chemical structure, energy alignment, and interface on charge generation have been well studied, not much is known about the impact of polymer aggregation on charge generation. Here, we studied the impact of aggregation on charge generation using transient absorption spectroscopy, neutron scattering, and atomic force microscopy. Our measurements indicate that the 1,8-diiodooctane additive can change the aggregation behavior of poly(benzodithiophene-alt-dithienyl difluorobenzotriazole (PBnDT-FTAZ) and phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM)polymer blends and impact the charge generation process. Our observations show that the charge generation can be optimized by tuning the aggregation in polymer blends, which can be beneficial for the design of highly efficient fullerene-based organic photovoltaic devices.
  3. Multi-elemental alloy nanoparticles (MEA-NPs) hold great promise for catalyst discovery in a virtually unlimited compositional space. However, rational and controllable synthesize of these intrinsically complex structures remains a challenge. Here, we report the computationally aided, entropy-driven design and synthesis of highly efficient and durable catalyst MEA-NPs. The computational strategy includes prescreening of millions of compositions, prediction of alloy formation by density functional theory calculations, and examination of structural stability by a hybrid Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics method. Selected compositions can be efficiently and rapidly synthesized at high temperature (e.g., 1500 K, 0.5 s) with excellent thermal stability. We applied these MEA-NPs for catalytic NH 3 decomposition and observed outstanding performance due to the synergistic effect of multi-elemental mixing, their small size, and the alloy phase. We anticipate that the computationally aided rational design and rapid synthesis of MEA-NPs are broadly applicable for various catalytic reactions and will accelerate material discovery.
  4. Multimetallic nanoclusters (MMNCs) offer unique and tailorable surface chemistries that hold great potential for numerous catalytic applications. The efficient exploration of this vast chemical space necessitates an accelerated discovery pipeline that supersedes traditional “trial-and-error” experimentation while guaranteeing uniform microstructures despite compositional complexity. Herein, we report the high-throughput synthesis of an extensive series of ultrafine and homogeneous alloy MMNCs, achieved by 1) a flexible compositional design by formulation in the precursor solution phase and 2) the ultrafast synthesis of alloy MMNCs using thermal shock heating (i.e., ∼1,650 K, ∼500 ms). This approach is remarkably facile and easily accessible compared to conventional vapor-phase deposition, and the particle size and structural uniformity enable comparative studies across compositionally different MMNCs. Rapid electrochemical screening is demonstrated by using a scanning droplet cell, enabling us to discover two promising electrocatalysts, which we subsequently validated using a rotating disk setup. This demonstrated high-throughput material discovery pipeline presents a paradigm for facile and accelerated exploration of MMNCs for a broad range of applications.
  5. The scattering of neutrons can be used to provide information on the structure and dynamics of biological systems on multiple length and time scales. Pursuant to a National Science Foundation-funded workshop in February 2018, recent developments in this field are reviewed here, as well as future prospects that can be expected given recent advances in sources, instrumentation and computational power and methods. Crystallography, solution scattering, dynamics, membranes, labeling and imaging are examined. For the extraction of maximum information, the incorporation of judicious specific deuterium labeling, the integration of several types of experiment, and interpretation using high-performance computer simulation models are often found to be particularly powerful.