Zang Named Regional Blavatnik Post-Doctoral Award Finalist
Dr. Yaping Zang, a postdoctoral research scientist in Prof. Latha Venkataraman's group, was selected as a Regional Blavatnik Post-Doctoral Award Finalist. She was recognized for "Innovatively using electrochemistry and electrical fields in conjunction with Scanning Tunneling Microscopy techniques to drive single-molecule chemical reactions, providing deeper mechanistic insight and opening new avenues for electro-catalysis."
Dr. Zang is a physical chemist working in the interdisciplinary fields of molecular electronics and chemistry, and has developed novel methodologies to study electrically driven chemical reactions at a single-molecule level. Using electrochemistry or electrical fields instead of toxic or expensive reagents to promote chemical reactions can potentially revolutionize the way compounds and materials are synthesized. Dr. Zang has developed an innovative methodology to electrically manipulate chemical reactions of individual molecules utilizing a scanning probe microscope. With this technique, Dr. Zang discovered a range of reactions which can be driven electrochemically or by strong electric fields. In particular, one of her significant achievements was the coupling of two anilines (a precursor in the manufacture of polyurethane) to form an azobenzene compound. The large variety of anilines which can be coupled together by this technique give rise to a whole family of azobenzene derivatives, which are important chemical intermediates in industry. This research pushes the frontier of our mechanistic understanding of electro-catalysis and paves the way towards environmentally friendly synthesis of industrially relevant materials.