Due to the increasingly polluted environment and the gradual depletion of fossil fuel reserves, the development of renewable technologies for environmental remediation and energy production is highly desirable. The photoenergy, specifically the solar energy, represents the ultimate energy source to sustain all lives on our planet and is also the energy source of the fossil fuels that are driving our technology. Thus, the direct harvest and conversion of solar energy into usable energy format are urgently required and considerably meet the requirements for the current issues on environment and energy, in which photocatalysis process initiated on nanomaterials is a crucial element, due to its inexpensive and clean nature by using abundant, cheap, and environmentally friendly chemical reagents, energy source, and catalysts without secondary pollution.
Nanostructured materials have attracted considerable attention for photocatalysis due to their unique physical and chemical properties in comparison to their bulk counterparts. These diverse nanostructures such as nanocrystals, nanopores, nanotubes, nanorods, nanowires, and other more complex hierarchical architectures with large surface areas, high surface to volume ratios, and numerous accessible catalytic active sites as well as efficient mass transport have been demonstrated to show extraordinary photocatalytic activity. On the other hand, the manipulation of chemical compositions of nanomaterials is also effective in improving their photocatalysis performance, aiming at altering the electronic structures of catalysts and their surface properties.
Therefore, we have been working on the engineering of both the chemical composition and the morphology in promoting the specific photocatalytic activity of nanomaterials, which will enrich our knowledge on enhancing the nanophotocatalysis in structural and elemental aspects but also indicate the existence of a lot more technological issues which make this field more attractive and challenging.
Tianyi Ma received his PhD in Physical Chemistry in 2013 from Nankai University, China. He is a Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry and Clarivate’s Global Highly Cited Researcher. He was awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award in 2014 and Future Fellowship in 2021. He is currently a professor at RMIT University, focusing on functional photocatalytic, electrocatalytic, thermocatalytic and piezocatalytic materials for renewable solar, mechanical and thermal energy harvesting and utilisation, as well as carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS); these processes are further incorporated into his developed next-generation high-performance battery and supercapacitor-based energy storage devices. He has published over 260 peer-reviewed journal papers in top-tier journals such as Nature Communications, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Journal of the American Chemical Society, and Advanced Materials, totally attracting over 21,000 citations with an H-index of 65. He has secured over $6.2m funding as the chief investigator from ARC, Victoria Government, and industry partners to conduct innovation work, which is not only fundamentally significant but also shows far-reaching impact for industry. He is also heavily engaged in academic roles including serving as the Associate Editor or Editorial Board Member for many journals such as Materials Reports: Energy, Rare Metals, and Journal of Electronic Materials; 6 themed issues were published by him as the leading guest editor.