Yaping Zang

2019 Regional Award Finalist — Post-Doc

Yaping Zang

Current Position:
Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Columbia University

Physical Chemistry

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.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Organic and Molecular Electronics, Single Molecule Chemistry, Electro-catalysis, Scanning Tunneling Microscopy

Previous Positions:

PhD, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
BE, Qilu University of Technology, China

Research Summary:

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.

"Traditionally, chemistry has been studied on ensembles of molecules. In recent years, techniques for directly probing individual molecules have been developed. My research is armed with such powerful techniques and at the same time integrates knowledge from synthetic chemistry. The findings of my research suggest new electrically driven reaction pathways, and can potentially lead to cleaner chemical synthesis towards a more sustainable future."

Key Publications:

  1. Y.P. Zang, I. Stone, M.S. Inkpen, F. Ng, T.H. Lambert, C. Nuckolls, M.L. Steigerwald, X. Roy, L. Venkataraman, In situ coupling of single molecules driven by Au-catalyzed electrooxidation. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 2019.
  2. Y. P. Zang, S. Ray. E-D. Fung, M. H. Garner, M. L. Steigerwald, G. C. Solomon, S. Patil, L. Venkataraman, Resonant transport in single-Diketopyrrolopyrrole junctions. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2018.
  3. Y.P. Zang, A. Pinkard, Z.F. Liu, J.B. Neaton, M.L. Steigerwald, X. Roy, L. Venkataraman, Electronically transparent Au–N bonds for molecular junctions. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2017.
  4. X.D. Yin, Y.P. Zang, L.L. Zhu, J.Z. Low, Z.F. Liu, J. Cui, J.B. Neaton, L. Venkataraman, L.M. Campos, A reversible single-molecule switch based on activated antiaromaticity. Scientific Advances, 2017.

Other Honors:

2018 Shortlisted participant of the Asian Dean’s Forum 2018 – The Rising Stars Women in Engineering Workshop, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
2017 Outstanding doctoral dissertation award, Chinese Academy of Sciences
2016 Special Prize of President Scholarship, Chinese Academy of Sciences
2016 Outstanding Graduate Award, Chinese Academy of Sciences
2016 SABIC-CAS Scholarship, Chinese Academy of Sciences
2015 Chu-Li-Yuet-Wah Outstanding Doctoral Scholarship, Chinese Academy of Sciences
2015 Special Prize of Director Scholarship, Institute of Chemistry Chinese Academy of Sciences
2015 Institute of Chemistry Chinese Academy of Sciences Young Scientists Award
2014 National Scholarship for Graduate Students, Chinese Ministry of Education

In the Media:

C&EN - Antiaromaticity flips single-molecule switch

Nature Reviews Materials - Organic electronics: Under pressure