Zeolites, working as solid catalysts and adsorbents, have huge application scenarios in the traditional petrochemical industry and renewable chemistry and have a wide range of applications in the fields of energy, catalysis, and environmental protection. However, scientists have been struggling with zeolite materials’ structure-activity relationship and their real state and microscopic mechanism in the service process.
Xiao Chen is mainly devoted to understanding the atomic-level microscopic mechanism of porous materials in the process of fossil energy adsorption, conversion, separation, and has especially focused on the original exploration of host-guest interaction in porous materials and the in-situ capturing the dynamic behaviors of confined molecules. In response to these problems, Chen’s team has developed characterization methods for spherical aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy to achieve real-time imaging of the dynamic behavior of a single organic small molecule at the sub-angstrom scale, study its complex dynamics at the time-space scale and “see” the movement and reaction process of single molecules in real space eventually.
Chen’s work on the structure-activity relationship of the zeolite materials is fundamental to revealing the real state and microscopic mechanism in the service process from a new perspective and providing important scientific understanding for their rational design. The rational design of zeolite materials will be able to change the fundamental problems that affect human survival, such as energy depletion and environmental degradation, in a more efficient and convenient way. More importantly, the single-molecule dynamic imaging strategy developed by us in confined real space brings a new research paradigm to the field of catalysis and can provide a steady stream of new evidence for understanding molecular-level reaction mechanisms in the near future.