Ming Gong, an Assistant Professor at Fudan University, focuses on the basic chemistry problems underlying energy conversion, and develop low-cost, viable materials for potential energy applications. His works have attracted great attention from his peers as well as the general media and have been reported on by the BBC, ABC, CNN, and many more.
Ming Gong's main research is hydrogen production from water electrolysis. By adopting the strategy of inorganic/nano-carbon hybrid materials, he developed NiFe layered double hydroxide-based oxygen evolution catalysts and NiO/Ni heterostructure-based hydrogen evolution electrocatalysts with superior activity and stability as compared to traditional precious-metal based electrocatalysts. By combining the developed catalysts, a low-cost and highly efficient water electrolyzer with <1.5 V voltage power was developed for the first time, paving the road for future hydrogen economy.
Because both solar and wind energy are facing a spatial and temporal distribution problem as cheap renewables, hydrogen may be the key solution. Ming Gong developed photoelectrochemical systems based on solar energy. For efficient storage of renewable energy, he coupled solar cells with developed electrolyzers to achieve a water photolyzer with 15% solar to hydrogen efficiency based on low-cost materials.
Ming Gong's attitude towards scientific research and industrial development is both optimistic and cautious. He believes that new energy technologies, such as hydrogen, are promising and at the same time, he wants to also focus on practical applications and possible potential problems; for example, whether hydrogen will have an impact on the environment. He said that hydrogen can escape from the earth, but is currently not very dominant due to limited hydrogen use. He believes we should consider whether it would pose other problems for the environment, such as the ozone layer, if its energy use increases rapidly in the future, and efforts should be taken to improve hydrogen storage and transportation.
As for the future, he wants to consider how to "soft land" from today's fossil-centric energy system to a sustainable energy system with renewable energy as an important component. From the perspective of a chemist, he will work with his team to provide new solutions from the principles of chemistry on a molecular level.