Winner of Diamond Young Investigator Award 2011Dr Sihai Yang from the University of Nottingham is the winner of the 2011 Diamond Young Investigator Award, a new initiative that rewards outstanding synchrotron research by Early Career Scientists.
Sihai uses the Diamond synchrotron in his research into porous coordination framework materials for applications in energy storage. As well as working on materials that hold potential for effective hydrogen storage, Sihai is also involved in the research of carbon capture applications. The Young Investigator judges chose Sihai as the first winner of the Award for making an exceptional contribution to synchrotron science in his work, over and above what might be expected of an early career scientist.
Sihai’s supervisors at Nottingham, Prof. Sandy Blake and Prof. Martin Schröder agree. Prof. Blake says, “Sihai is an outstanding and innovative young scientist with a real flair for synthesis coupled to structural analysis. He has developed the synthesis and characterisation of a series of new nanoporous metal-organic framework materials for hydrogen storage and carbon capture applications, relevant to the development of the ‘Hydrogen Economy’ and the ‘Low-Carbon Economy’. Much of this success has depended on access to central facilities, and he has been the Principal Investigator or co-investigator conducting research at Diamond Light Source, Daresbury SRS, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and ISIS Neutron Centre since 2008. A notable collaboration with Prof. Chiu Tang and Dr Julia Parker on Diamond’s high resolution powder diffraction beamline I11 led to the construction of the original gas cell system to create insitu diffraction capabilities there, a first for Diamond.”
Pictured right: (L-R) Prof. Steve Collins, Diamond, Prof. Trevor Rayment, Diamond, Dr Sihai Yang, Nottingham, Prof. Sandy Blake, Nottingham
Alongside his team at the School of Chemistry at Nottingham and Newcastle University, Sihai was a lead author on a recent Nature Materials paper that caught the attention of the British media, with the BBC reporting online (13/06/2012) that his “new holey material soaks up CO2”. The team has developed a porous material, a metal-organic framework (MOF), which can preferentially soak up CO2 from the flue gas mixture. The new type of MOF exhibits interpenetration of two frameworks but where one of the frameworks is only partially occupied. The two interlocking but not completely overlapping structures leave room for CO2 gas to be trapped. Sihai and his team used beamline I11 and Diamond’s small molecule single crystal diffraction beamline, I19, to confirm the unique structural arrangement of the frameworks and its binding mechanism for CO2 capture. This two-part structure is an entirely new class of porous material and holds promise for carbon capture and storage, and for removing CO2 from the exhaust gases of power plants and factories.
Dr Sihai Yang, University of Nottingham
As winner of the 2011 Award, Sihai will give a short presentation of his research project at the 2012 Synchrotron Users Meeting in September.
Nominations are now being welcomed for the Diamond Young Investigator Award 2012
The deadline for submissions is 30th September 2012; the winner will be announced in November.