I. Bio-derived Sustainable Materials and Bio-inspired Multifunctional Designs

For a century, we've reaped the benefits of petroleum-based products in terms of convenience and technological progress. Today, with plastic infiltrating every aspect of our life, we face the growing menace of white pollution. Establishing a robust framework for sustainable alternatives to fossil-based products is crucial. Nature offers a bounty of biodegradable resources such as cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, tannin, and silk. These can be transformed into high-performance, multifunctional materials. Yet, cellulose is primarily used for paper production, and much of lignin and hemicellulose remain under-utilized. In our lab, we delve into the structure-property relationships of bio-derived materials, their advanced functionalization, processing, characterization, and design strategies. Our focus is on the development of high-performance, multifunctional materials from bio-derived resources or through bio-inspired strategies. We're exploring the relationship between material structure, performance, and potential applications of environmentally friendly, biodegradable materials.

II. Solid State Batteries and Sustainable Large Scale Grid Energy Storage

Li-ion batteries have transformed the portable electronics sector, but they may fall short in meeting escalating demands. On one hand, dwindling fossil fuels and growing environmental worries necessitate the urgent development of sustainable energy. Yet, the critical materials used in energy storage today are generally not low-cost, renewable, or sustainable. This situation presents enormous challenges but also opportunities to discover renewable, affordable, high-performance materials. The need for new technologies to fuel transportation and power our lives is crucial, and these must be developed with research that prioritizes minimal environmental impact. On the other hand, conventional Li-ion batteries employ organic liquid electrolytes, consisting of Li salts dissolved in organic solvents. The high flammability of these solvents poses safety risks during battery operation. The limitations of such electrolytes mean that existing Li-ion battery technologies can't fulfill the requirements for high energy density and safety in both existing and emerging applications. This generates a pressing need for research into the development of safer batteries with improved electrolytes. Our lab has a keen interest in renewable energy solutions that deliver high performance, trustworthy safety, and cost-effectiveness. We're particularly drawn to the potential of solid-state batteries and flow batteries.

III. Sustainable and Advanced Intelligent Manufacturing

It is important to promote the multifunctional material and energy storage device in a lab scale to a higher system level and manufacturing on a large scale. We have more than 10 years of experience in the high-speed roll to roll manufacturing, including various roll to roll paper manufacturing, coating and printing. Meanwhile, Dr. Zhu is teaching the “Manufacturing Technology and System” (covering "Materials selections in manufacturing", "Automation in manufacturing", "Industrial robotics automation", "Computer numeric control in manufacturing", "Additive manufacturing", "Laser manufacturing technologies", "Industrial 4.0", "Manufacturing system", and "Product quality control and inspection".) and she is the co-director of the Advanced and Intelligent Manufacturing (AIM) master program in NEU. Our research interest span from traditional manufacturing to immerging high tech manufacturing in electronics and energy storage. Our group is also interested in integrating the manufacturing control with manufacturing processes. Advanced and Intelligent Manufacturing (AIM) master program in NEU