Explore the Nano World 

Mar. 2019:Congratulations to Kaiqin for winning the Third Place in AWWA NJ 84rd Annual Conference!

​​​Mar. 2019: Congratulations to Wanyi  for successfully defending her dissertation!

 Wen's Research Group​

Wen Zhang

Principal Investigator
Associate Professor

Phone: (973) 596-5520 
Fax: (973) 596-5790
Email: wen.zhang@njit.edu

Office Location: Colton Hall 211

Find us on the map: 

The Schematics of carbon-doped titanium dioxide nanoparticles grafted on graphene oxide in our previous work.

Utilization of non-hazardous materials and earth-abundant elements for sustainable photocatalytic reactions to produce hydrogen and remove water contaminant. 

Major achievements:

(1) One Ph.D. student (Liyuan Kuang) was trained and graduated in 2016.

(2) Two undergraduate students were involved and received SURP grants.

(3) Led to two NSF proposal and a postdoc fellowship proposal.

(4) Received $2000 from Hamilton Company for partnerships in education (http://www.hamiltongrants.com/grant-testimonials/).

(5) More than 7 journal publications.

“Solar-to-fuel” photocatalysis aims to transform solar energy into chemical fuels. Hydrogen (H2) is one of the target carbon-free energy fuels. Producing H2 from an abundant, non-toxic, and clean source such as sunlight and water is an ideal sustainable solution. Thus, developing visible light-driven photocatalytic systems is increasingly important owing to the promising potential of harnessing solar energy and removing environmental pollutants concurrently. Particularly, we aim to build a robust visible-light-driven photocatalytic reactor with high H2 production rate, 

high quantum yield, and excellent stability or longevity.

  Our strategies include

(1) adopting novel and affordable nanomaterials that could be synthesized or developed from earth abundant elements;

(2) search of renewable thus sustainable sources of electron donors;

(3) design of novel O2-H2 separation processes.

   The overarching goals are to provide molecule-level insights into catalytic reactions leading to efficient degradation of emerging contaminants and to devise innovative solar and UV-driven technologies in water and wastewater treatment and energy recovery.

    In our research, carbon doped TiO2 was synthesized and anchored to graphene oxide (GO) to form a hybrid nanostructure. Such nanostructured photocatalysts exhibited enhanced visible light absorbance and photocatalytic H2 production rates even in the absence of noble or rare earth metals as co-catalysts. Graphene is a unique carbonaceous nanomaterial providing a two-dimensional (2-D) sheet that was shown to greatly facilitate charge transfer and separation and thus improved photocatalytic activity. Moreover, graphene as a supporting matrix increased photocatalytic longevity and maintained good colloidal stability. The new findings lay
groundwork toward the design of sustainable and efficient hybrid photocatalytic materials for renewable energy harvesting. Novel visible light responsible materials made with earth abundant elements should also play a critical role in reaching environmental sustainability and broader applications such as antimicrobial functions, pathogen removal, and recalcitrant water contaminant removal.