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1) Electrochemical Liquid Cell Fabrication Process

2) In-Situ Liquid Phase TEM Operation

Cover Images (Nature Review Chemistry, ACS Nano, Small, Small structure.)

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Welcome to the Energy & Environmental Research Laboratory!

    The Energy & Environmental Research Lab is located in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, City University of Hong Kong. We are a materials chemistry lab with specific interests in electrochemical systems for energy and environmental applications, combining our expertise in materials chemistry, nanomaterials, and electrochemistry, we aim to address some fundamental and technologically-important questions in Energy and Environmental Applications.

    Our ultimate goals is to be able to design new materials with useful properties for next-generation energy and environmental applications [e.g., rechargeable batteries and electro-catalysis] as well as contributing to the fundamental progress of materials chemistry and physics, as shown in the figure below. The PI’s interdisciplinary research experiences in universities, national labs (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) and company [Applied Materials Inc. (in Silicon Valley)] have prepared our group for pursuing these goals. To achieve them, it is essential to analyze and understand the materials and processes at the atomic level. In-situ and ex-situ multimodal characterizations (TEM, STXM, TXM, XAS) are ideal tools in this quest, as they are able to determine the atomic structure, electronic properties, reaction energetics etc.

Selected Grant:


[1] Prof. Zhiyuan Zeng got UGC Yong Collaborative Research Grant (Y-CRF, 4,832,040 HKD), as Project Coordinator (PC), see UGC website, and Zeng lab NEWS.

Selected Publications:

[1] Intercalation in 2D materials and in-situ studies, R. Yang, L. Mei, Z. Lin, Y. Fan, J. Lim, J. Guo, Y. Liu, H. S. Shin, D. Voiry, Q. Lu*, J. Li*, Z. Y. Zeng*, Nature Reviews Chemistry, 2024, 8, 410-432. (Cover) Link.

  Media Reports:"Rationalscience" "Electrolyte Frontier" "SKLMP Facebook" "SKLMP Linkedin" "SKLMP Twitter" "SKLMP-Wechat"

[2] Metallic 1T/1T′ Phase TMD Nanosheets with Enhanced Chemisorption Sites for Ultrahigh-Efficiency Lead Removal, L. Mei, M. Sun, R. Yang, Y. Zhang, Y. Zhang, Z. Zhang, L. Zheng, Y. Chen, Q. Zhang, J. Zhou, Y. Zhu, K. M.Y. Leung, W. Zhang, J. Fan, B. Huang*, X. C. Zeng, H. S. Shin, C. Y. Tang, L. Gu*, D. Voiry, Z. Y. Zeng*, Nature Communications, 2024, accepted.

    Media Reports:

[3] Synthesis of atomically thin sheets by the intercalation-based exfoliation of layered materials, R. Yang, Y. Fan, L. Mei, H. S. Shin, D. Voiry, Q. Lu, J. Li*, Z. Y. Zeng*, Nature Synthesis2023, 2, 101-118. Link PDF SI.

  Media Reports: "X-MOL" "X-MOL website" "ScienceNet" "Xiaokehuaxue" "Electrolyte Frontier" "Rationalscience" "Frontier-Energy"

[4] Fabrication of Liquid Cell for In-Situ Transmission Electron Microscopy of Electrochemical Processes, R. Yang, L. Mei, Y. Fan, Q. Zhang, H. G. Liao, J. Yang, J. Li*, Z. Y. Zeng*Nature Protocols, 2023, 18, 555-578. Link PDF SI

  Media Reports: "AzoNano" "AZoNano-Twitter" "AZoNano-Linkedin" "CityU-Research Stories" "CityU CENG-Faculty Achievements" "CityU-CENG News", "CityU-Research-Official" "CityU-Research", "Instagram" "CityU-MSE News", "Rationalscience", "Energist", "icailiaoren", "icailiaoren2" "In-situ Research", "Chem-MSE" "X-MOL-2"

[5] High-yield production of mono- or few-layer transition metal dichalcogenides nanosheets by electrochemical lithium ion intercalation-based exfoliation method​, R. Yang†, L. Mei†, Q. Zhang†, Y. Fan, H. S. Shin*, D. Voiry*, Z.Y. Zeng*Nature Protocols, 2022, 17, 358-377. Link PDF SI (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 110)

  Media Reports: "CityU-Research Stories", "EurekAlert!(AAAS)", "CityU-MSE News", "CityU-CENG News"

                           "CityU-Research", "Rationalscience", "X-MOL", "J. Electrochem." "X-MOL-2"


[6] High Surface Area Functionalized Nanolaminated Membranes For Energy Efficient Nanofiltration And Desalination In Forward Osmosis, W. Wang, N. Onofrio, E. Petit, B. A. Karamoko, H. Wu, J. Liu, J. Li, K. Qi, Y. Zhang, C. Gervais, L. Lajaunie, C. Salameh, P. Miele, Z. Y. Zeng, D. Voiry*, Nature Water, 2023, 1, 187-197. Link.

[7] Photocatalysis with atomically thin sheets, R. Yang, Y. Fan, J. Hu, Z. Chen, H. S. Shin, D. Voiry, Q. Wang, Q. Lu*, J. C. Yu*, Z. Y. Zeng*Chemical Society Reviews, 2023, 52, 7687 - 7706. Link.

  Media Reports: "Rationalscience", "Meet Your Science", "X-MOL" "X-MOL-website"

[8] Framework structure engineering of polymeric carbon nitrides and its recent applications, B. Tian, D. Ho*, J. Qin, J. Hu, Z. Chen, D. Voiry, Q. Wang*, Z. Y. Zeng*, Progress in Materials Science, 2023, 133, 101056. Link

  Media Reports:"Rationalscience"

[9] In-Situ TEM Visualization of LiF Nanosheets Formation on the Cathode-Electrolyte Interphase (CEI) in Liquid-Electrolyte Lithium-Ion Batteries, Q. Zhang†, J. Ma, L. Mei, J. Liu, Z. Li*, J. Li*, Z. Y. Zeng*, Matter, 2022, 5, 1235-1250. Link PDF Movie S1 Movie S2 (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 63) 

  Media Reports: "Rationalscience", "X-MOL", "Cell Press" "X-MOL-2"

  Highlighted in "One Earth"

[10] Transition Metal Dichalcogenide-Based Functional Membrane: Synthesis, Modification and Water Purification Applications, H. Peng, R. Wang*, L. Mei, Q. Zhang, T. Ying, Z. Qian*, A. B. Farimani,  D. Voiry*, Z. Y. Zeng*Matter, 2023, 6, 59-96. Link PDF

  Media Reports: "X-MOL"

[11] Achieving Exceptional Volumetric Desalination Capacity Using Compact MoS2 Nanolaminates, T. Ying†, Y. Xiong†, H. Peng†, R. Yang, L. Mei, Z. Zhang, W. Zheng, R. Yan, Y. Zhang, H. Hu, C. Ma, Y. Chen, X. Xu, J. Yang, D. Voiry, C. Y. Tang, J. Fan, Z. Y. Zeng*, Advanced Materials, 2024, DOI: 10.1002/adma.202403385. Link.

  Media Reports: "DeepTech" "Rationalscience" "Suitong Science Cloud" "Scientific Gramophone" "Polymer-science" "Nine Chapters Calculation"

[12] Simultaneous electrochemical exfoliation and covalent functionalization of MoS2 membrane for ion sieving, L. Mei, Z. Cao, T. Ying, R. Yang, H. Peng, G. Wang, L. Zheng, Y. Chen, C. Y. Tang, D. Voiry, H. Wang*, A. B. Farimani*, Z. Y. Zeng*Advanced Materials2022, 34, 2201416. (Invited paper for "Rising Stars Series") Link 

  Media Reports: "Rationalscience", "X-MOL", "Membrane Engineering Center of Tsinghua", "Chem-MSE"

                              "2DMaterial", "NanoAdsorption" "X-MOL-2"

[13] MnO2-based materials for environmental applications, R. Yang, Y. Fan, R. Ye, Y. Tang, X. Cao*, Z. Yin*, Z. Y. Zeng*, Advanced Materials2021, 33, 2004862. Link (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 362) (Hot Paper)  

  Media Reports: "Rationalscience", "Nano Jie"

[14] 2D Transition Metal Dichalcogenides for Photocatalysis, R. Yang, Y. Fan, Y. Zhang, L. Mei, R. Zhu,* J. Qin, J. Hu, Z. Chen, Y. H. Ng, D. Voiry, S. Li, Q. Lu, Q. Wang,* J. C. Yu,* Z. Y. Zeng*, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2023, 62, e202218016. Link PDF (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 114)

   Media Reports: "Chem-MSE", "X-MOL", "Science Materials Station", "caoliaoren" "Rationalscience"

[15] Advances in Electrochemical Liquid Phase Transmission Electron Microscope for Visualizing Rechargeable Battery Reactions, H. Hu, R. Yang, Z. Y. Zeng*, ACS Nano, 2024, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.4c03319. Link(Invited Paper)

  Media Reports: "Rationalscience" "SCI Materials Hub"

[16] Highly dispersed Ni atoms and O3 promote room-temperature catalytic oxidation, R. Yang,† W. Zhang,† Y. Zhang,† Y. Fan,† R. Zhu,* J. Jiang, L. Mei, Z. Ren, X. He, J. Hu, Z. Chen, Q. Lu,* J. Zhou, H. Xiong, H. Li,* X. C. Zeng,* Z. Y. Zeng*, ACS Nano, 2024, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.3c12946. (Cover) Link

  Media Reports: "Rationalscience" "Environmentor"


[17] Unveiling the Energy Storage Mechanism of MnO2 Polymorphs for Zinc-Manganese Dioxide Batteries, Q. Zhang†, J. Zhao†, X. Chen, R. Yang, T. Ying, C. Cheng, B. Liu, J. Fan*, S. Li*, Z. Y. Zeng*Adv. Funct. Mater. 2024, DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202306652. Link.

[18] Rational Design of Cost-Effective Metal-Doped ZrO2 for Oxygen Evolution Reaction, Y. Zhang, T. Wang, L. Mei, R. Yang, W Guo, H Li*, Z. Y. Zeng*, Nano-micro Letters, 2024, DOI: 10.1007/s40820-024-01403-7. Link(Invited Paper)

  Media Reports: "MS-YangZZ"

[19] Current progress on methods and technologies for catalytic methane activation at low temperatures, F. Nkinahamira, R. Yang, R. Zhu*, J. Zhang, Z. Ren, S. Sun, H. Xiong*, Z. Y. Zeng* Advanced Science, 2023, 10, 2204566. Link

[20] Customization of manganese oxide cathodes via precise electrochemical lithium-ion intercalation for diverse zinc-ion batteries, J. Zhao, H. Yu, R. Yang, F. Tan, Z. Zhou, W. Yan, Q. Zhang, L. Mei, J. Zhou, C. Tan*, Z. Y. Zeng*, Small, 2024, DOI: 10.1002/smll.202401258. Link.

   Media Reports: "SCI Materials Hub"

[21] Boosting Electrocatalytic Reduction of CO2 to HCOOH on Ni Single Atom Anchored WTe2 Monolayer, Y. Zhang, R. Yang, H. Li*, and Z. Y. Zeng*, Small, 2022, 18, 2203759.(Invited paper for "Rising Stars Series") Link

  Media Reports: "SCI_Materials_Hub"

[22] Investigation into the Phase-Activity Relationship of MnO2 Nanomaterials toward Ozone-Assisted Catalytic Oxidation of Toluene, R. Yang, Z. Guo, L. Cai, R. Zhu*, Y. Fan, Y. Zhang, P. Han, W. Zhang, X. Zhu, Q. Zhao, Z. Zhu*, C. K. Chan, Z. Y. Zeng*, Small, 2021, 17, 2103052. (Back Cover) Link

[23] ZnIn2S4-based photocatalysts for energy and environmental applications, R. Yang, L. Mei, Y. Fan, Q. Zhang, R. Zhu*, R. Amal*, Z. Yin*, Z. Y. Zeng*Small Methods, 2021, 5, 2100887. Link (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 161)

[24] Construction of Magnetic S-doped CoWO4 Composite for Efficient and Selective Recovery of Gold from Wastewater via Adsorption-Reduction Pathway, M. Zhao, Y. Zhang, R. Yang, C. Wang, C. Xiong, R. Zhu*, S. Wang*, Z. Y. Zeng*, Small Structures, 2023, 4, 2300039.(Inside Cover)  Link.

[25] Highly reversible Zn metal anode with low voltage hysteresis enabled by tannic acid chemistry, J. Cao, D. Zhang, R. Chanajaree, Y. Yue, X. Zhang, X. Yang, C. Cheng, S. Li, J. Qin*, J. Zhou*, Z. Y. Zeng*, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2023, 15, 45045-45054. Link.


[26] Architecting a High-Energy-Density Rocking‐Chair Zinc-Ion Batteries via Carbon Wrapped Vanadium Dioxide, D. Zhang, J. Cao*, X. Zhang, J. Qin*, Z. Y. Zeng*, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2023, 15, 57230-57238. Link.

[27] InVO4-based photocatalysts for energy and environmental applications, R. Yang, Y. Zhang, Y. Fan, R. Wang, R. Zhu, Y. Tang*, Z. Yin*, Z. Y. Zeng*, Chemical Engineering Journal, 2022, 428, 131145. Link.

​[28] Highly efficient photocatalytic hydrogen evolution and simultaneous formaldehyde degradation over Z-scheme ZnIn2S4-NiO/BiVO4 hierarchical heterojunction under visible light irradiation, R. Yang, Q. Chen, Y. Ma, R. Zhu*, Y. Fan, J. Huang, H. Niu, Y. Dong, D. Li, Y. Zhang, L. Mei, B. Chen*, Z. Y. Zeng*Chemical Engineering Journal2021, 423, 130164. Link.

[29] Photochemical Reduction of Ultrasmall Pt Nanoparticles on Single-Layer Transition-Metal Dichalcogenides for Hydrogen Evolution Reactions, L. Mei, Y. Zhang, T. Ying, W. Zheng, H. Hu, R. Yang, R. Yan, Y. Zhang, C. Cheng, B. Liu, S. Li*, Z. Y. Zeng*, Materials Today Energy, 2024, 42, 101487. Link. (Invited Paper)

[30] Fabrication of Amorphous Subnanometric Palladium Nanostructures on Metallic Transition Metal Dichalcogenides for Efficient Hydrogen Evolution Reaction, L. Mei, Y. Zhang, Z. Ye, T. Han, H. Hu, R. Yang, T. Ying, W. Zheng, R. Yan, Y. Zhang, Z. Wang, Z. Y. Zeng*, Inorg. Chem. Front., 2024, DOI: 10.1039/D4QI00622D. Link. (Invited Paper)

[31] Size-Selective Synthesis of Platinum Nanoparticles on Transition-Metal Dichalcogenides for Hydrogen Evolution Reaction, Liang Mei, Xiaoping Gao, Zhan Gao, Qingyong Zhang, Xinge Yu, Andrey L. Rogach, Z. Y. Zeng*Chemical Communications2021, 57, 2879-2882. (Invited paper for “Emerging Investigators” collection) Link.

[32] Intercalation and Exfoliation Chemistry of Transition Metal Dichalcogenides, Qingyong Zhang,† Liang Mei,† Xiehong Cao, Yuxin Tang, Z. Y. Zeng*, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2020, 8, 15417-15444. (Invited paper for “Emerging Investigators” collection) Link.


[33] A Safe Flexible Self-Powered Wristband System by Integrating Defective MnO2-x Nanosheet-Based Zinc-Ion Batteries with Perovskite Solar Cells J. Zhao, Z. Xu, Z. Zhou, S. Xi, Y. Xia, Q. Zhang, L. Huang, L. Mei, Y. Jiang, J. Gao*, Z. Y. Zeng*, C. Tan*, ACS Nano, 2021, 15, 10597-10608. Link (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 107)

[34] Formation of two-dimensional transition metal oxide nanosheets with nanoparticles as intermediates, J. Yang,  Zhiyuan Zeng, J. Kang, S. Betzler, C. Czarnik, X.  Zhang, C. Ophus, C. Yu, K.  Bustillo, M. Pan, J. Qiu, L.-W. Wang, H. Zheng, Nature Materials, 2019, 18, 970-976. Link.

[35] Visualization of Electrode-Electrolyte Interfaces in LiPF6/EC/DEC Electrolyte for Lithium Ion Batteries via In-Situ TEM, Zhiyuan Zeng, Wen-I Liang, Hong-Gang Liao, Huolin L Xin, Yin-Hao Chu, Haimei Zheng, Nano Letters2014, 14, 1745-1750. Link(Cited Times: 373)
  Media Report: LBNL MSD News
 Cited (Highlighted) in "Nat. Protoc. 2023" "Nat. Energy 2021" "Nat. Rev. Chem. 2019" "Science 2017" "Science 2017" "Nat. Nanotechnol. 2017" "Chem. Rev. 2017" "Chem. Rev. 2017" "Science 2015" "9 Nat. Commun. papers"


[36] Growth of noble metal nanoparticles on single-layer TiS2 and TaS2 nanosheets for hydrogen evolution reactionZhiyuan Zeng, Chaoliang Tan, Xiao Huang, Shuyu Bao, Hua Zhang, Energy & Environmental Science, 2014, 7, 797-803. Link. (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 348)


[37] Single-Layer MoS2-Based Nanoprobes for Homogeneous Detection of Biomolecules, Changfeng Zhu, Zhiyuan Zeng, Hai Li, Fan Li, Chunhai Fan, Hua Zhang, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013, 135(16), 5998-6001. Link. (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 1085)

[38] Metal Dichalcogenide Nanosheets: Preparation, Properties and Applications, Xiao Huang, Zhiyuan Zeng, Hua Zhang, Chemical Society Reviews, 2013, 42, 1934-1946. Link. (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 2131)

[39] Solution-phase epitaxial growth of noble metal nanostructures on dispersible single-layer MoS2 nanosheets, Xiao Huang†, Zhiyuan Zeng†, Shuyu Bao, Mengfei Wang, Xiaoying Qi, Zhanxi Fan, Hua Zhang, Nature Communications, 2013, 4, 1444. (†equal contribution) Link. (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 842)

[40] An Effective Method for the Fabrication of Few-Layer-Thick Inorganic NanosheetsZhiyuan Zeng, Ting Sun, Jixin Zhu, Xiao Huang, Zongyou Yin, Gang Lu, Zhanxi Fan, Qingyu Yan, Huey Hoon Hng, Hua Zhang, Angewandte Chemie International Edition2012, 51, 9052-9056. Link. (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 637)

[41] Single-Layer Semiconducting Nanosheets: High-Yield Preparation and Device Fabrication, Zhiyuan Zeng, Zongyou Yin, Xiao Huang, Hai Li, Qiyuan He, Gang Lu, Freddy Boey, Hua Zhang, Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2011, 50, 11093-11097. Link. (ESI Highly Cited Papers: 2009)  (Hot Paper) 
  Media Reports: "Materials Views", "Materials Views China"
 Cited (Highlighted) in "Nat. Rev. Chem. 2024" "Nat. Protoc. 2023
" "Nat. Synth. 2023" "Nat. Rev. Mater. 2022"Nat. Protoc. 2022" "Nat. Mater. 2021" "Nat. Mater. 2021" "Nat. Rev. Chem. 2020" "Nature 2018" "Nat. Chem. 2018" "Nat. Chem. 2017" "Science 2013" "Nat. Mater. 2013" "Nat.Chem. 2013" "Nat. Nanotechnol. 2012" "13 Nat. Commun. papers"

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