I. Electronic Skin
Skin is the largest organ of the human body. It performs many functions. For example, it can protect us from damage while having the ability to heal itself. Skin is a synthesizer, manufacturing vitamin D for the conversion of calcium into healthy bones. It is a huge sensor that can respond to touch and temperature. Skin is soft and stretchable, allowing free bodily movement. In other words, it can be considered as a large stretchable wearable device for the human body. We are inspired by the apparent simplicity yet true complexity of nature, dreaming to mimic these special functions to create electronic skin (e-skin) for novel applications, including self-healing and stretchable materials, skin-like sensors, flexible sensors, wearable electronics, artificial prosthetics, healthcare, and smart robots.
II. Solar Hydrogen Energy
By mimicking natural photosynthesis, converting abundant solar energy into chemical energy is one of the most promising approaches for future energy production. Developing efficient visible light–driven photocatalytic systems that generate hydrogen from water, an earth-abundant source, should lead to many applications of this clean and renewable fuel. In a search for efficient
photocatalysts that mimic such a function, we aim to develop the newly designed semiconducting polymers as the new type of promising photocatalysts for visible light–driven hydrogen evolution.
The Scope of Chou Research Group
Chou Research Group is focused on the molecular engineering of organic semiconductors for the following two applications:
(1) Electronic skin
Skin is the largest organ of our body, and it has numerous functions, such as pressure and temperature sensing, stretchability, and self-healing ability. This conformable, stretchable and biodegradable organ formed a remarkable network of highly sensitive diverse sensors simultaneously collects signals from external stimuli that translate into information. Scientists are now exploring the field of electronic skin (e-skin), dreaming to mimic the properties of skin and create novel applications. We are interested in design and synthesis of organic and polymer materials and the fabrication of electronics or sensors to mimic skin functions, especially in skin-like tactile sensing, stretchable and self-healing properties.
(2) Artificial Photosynthesis
By mimicking natural photosynthesis, artificial photosynthesis using polymer photocatalysts for the visible-light-driven generation of hydrogen through the splitting of water is an almost ideal process for the conversion of abundant solar energy into useable fuel in an environmentally friendly and high-energy-density manner. In a search for efficient photocatalysts that mimic such a function, our group aim to study and develop the new types of polymers, covalent organic frameworks (COF), orpolymer dots (Pdots) as photocatalysts for hydrogen evolution from water. The design of the molecular architectures, photophysical properties, theoretic calculations, proposed mechanisms, and H2applications are investigated. In addition, we are interested in the use of functional polymers for CO2photoreduction and the overall water-splitting.