Research Overview

Complex natural systems usually have a hierarchical organization of multiple components at various scales. For example, sequence-defined nucleic acids and proteins with internal monomer sequences and arrangements are vital hierarchical components in the living world as a result of billions of years of molecular evolution. These natural hierarchical systems have inspired me to develop artificial hierarchical materials that can mimic similar functions such as replication, recognition, and information storage. Liang focused on synthesizing framework materials with hierarchical porosities, architectures, and compositions and their applications in catalysis, transportation, and gas separation. More specifically, he developed several general synthetic strategies, including linker thermolysis, imprinting, reinstallation and migration, modular synthesis, and programming, in a quest to engineer hierarchical porosity, distribution, and composition in multicomponent metal-organic framewroks (MOFs) and their hierarchical superstructures. The fabrication of these multicomponent mesoscale architectures with sophisticated geometries and compartmentalization patterns is a critical step in creating artificial lives in the future. Such synthesis and catalytic studies open up new opportunities to prepare novel functional materials and systems essential in fundamental research and industry.