Liming Dai

Liming Dai is the Kent Hale Smith Professor at Case Western Reserve University, USA. He is also director of the Center of Advanced Science and Engineering for Carbon (CASE4Carbon) at CWRU. Dr. Dai received a BSc degree from Zhejiang University in 1983, and a PhD from the Australian National University in 1991. He accepted a postdoctoral fellowship from the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, and two years later became a visiting fellow in Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He spent 10 years with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Melbourne, Australia. Before joining the CWRU, he was an associate professor of polymer engineering at the University of Akron and the Wright Brothers Institute Endowed Chair Professor of Nanomaterials at the University of Dayton.

Dr. Dai’s expertise covers the synthesis, functionalization, and device fabrication of conjugated polymers and carbon nanomaterials for energy-related and biomedical applications. He has published about 500 scientific papers, and held about 30 issued/applied patents. He has an h-index of 133 and citations of 67,060 (Google Scholar). He has also published a research monograph on intelligent macromolecules and 6 edited/co-edited books on carbon nanomaterials for advanced energy systems and biomedical applications, including a recent 2-volume edited book on Carbon-based Metal-free Catalysts by Wiley-VCH. Dr. Dai serves as an Associate Editor of Nano Energy (Elsevier), Associated Editor for The International Journal of Smart and Nano Materials, Special Chief Editor for Energy Materials of Frontiers in Materials, and editorial board member of many international journals. He is a Highly Cited Researcher (Chemistry, Materials) and has received various awards, including the International Union of Materials Research Societies’ IUMRS-SOMIYA Award 2019 (with Prof. Zhenhai Xia and Prof. Jian-feng Chen), 2018 NASA-Langley Henry J.E. Reid Award, 2016 CWRU Faculty Distinguished Research Award, 2014 CWRU CSE Research Award, 2013 Zhejiang Science and Technology Award, 2013 Zhejiang Biomedical Technology Award, 2009 World Class University (WCU) Professor Award (South Korea), 2006 China (NSFC) Outstanding Overseas Young Chinese Scientist Award, 2006 Ohio Outstanding Engineer and Scientist Award, 2006 George Noland Research Award from Sigma Xi, and 2003 IUPAC Young Observer Award. Dr. Dai also severs as an Advisory Committee Member of the American Carbon Society. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).


Carbon-based metal-free electrocatalysts for efficient energy conversion and storagepa

Green and renewable energy technologies, such as fuel cells, batteries, and water-splitting systems, hold great promise to solve current energy and environmental challenges. However, noble metal catalysts (e.g., Pt, Pd, RuO2, IrO2) are generally needed to promote the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) for hydrogen fuel generation fromphoto-electrochemical water-splitting, oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in fuel cells for energy conversion, and oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in metal-air batteries for energy storage. The high cost of precious metal-based catalysts and their limited reserve have precluded these renewable energy technologies from large-scale applications.  

Along with the recent intensive research efforts in non-noble metal based ORR catalysts, we have previously demonstrated that vertically-aligned nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes could actively catalyze ORR via a four-electron process free from the CO poisoning effects with a 3-time higher electrocatalytic activity and better long-term durability than that of commercial Pt/C catalysts. The improved catalytic performance was attributed to the doping-induced charge transfer from carbon atoms adjacent to the nitrogen atoms to change the chemisorption mode of O2 and to readily attract electrons from the anode for facilitating the ORR.

Subsequently, it was demonstrated that various graphitic carbon materials, doped with heteroatoms of different electronegativities from that of carbon atom, physically adsorbed with certain polyelectrolytes, and even without any apparent dopant or physically adsorbed polyelectrolyte, could also exhibit good ORR performance. More recent studies have further demonstrated that certain heteroatom-doped carbon nanomaterials could act as metal-free bifunctional catalysts for ORR/OER in metal-air batteries for energy storage, and even ORR/OER/HER trifunctional catalysts for self-powered water-splitting to generate hydrogen fuel and oxygen gas from water.

In this talk, I will summarize some of our work on the metal-free catalysts based on carbon nanomaterials for various energy-related reactions, along with an overview on the recent advances and perspectives in this exciting field.