As the manuscript of my own paper,

As I write this, I just finished the manuscript of my own paper, summarizing my work in Prof. Yi
Cui’s group during this memorable summer in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering
at Stanford University. I still remember the immense happiness and satisfaction I felt on the final day,
when my poster presentation was highly praised by professors and graduate students from various
departments of Stanford University. Recalling my journey to materials science and chemistry,
multidisciplinary hands-on projects have equipped me with solid nanomaterials synthesis skills. Then,
countless time spent on figuring out catalytic mechanism provided me with critical thinking ability.
Finally, the goal of bringing cutting-edge research into benefiting the broadest community motivated
me to devote myself to materials science and chemistry. During this rewarding journey, I published 3
papers(Angew, Nature Energy, Nature Catalysis(submitted)) as co-author and I’m going to publish
my own paper(In preparation) as co-first author. More importantly, this journey has rendered my
future goal crystal clear, and reinforced my determination to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemical and
Environmental Engineering.
“Solid knowledge of Math, Physics and Chemistry builds the bridge to the scientific research world”.
When I was 16 years old and just finished my second year in high school, I was enrolled by the
Special Class for Gifted Young at University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). During
my college life, my pursuit of excellence along with diligence rewarded me with not only a high
GPA(3.97/4.30, ranking 2
nd/30 in the Department of Chemical Physics), but also the Guo Moruo
Scholarship, the highest honor for USTC students. Besides, I was granted National Scholarship for
two consecutive years. Strong academic background provided me the chance to start my first
research project in Prof. Xiaoping Wang’s group, working on a heterojunction of GaSe/MoS?.
Along with my co-workers, I successfully fabricated a brand-new heterojunction of GaSe/MoS? via
mechanical exfoliation and deterministic transferring in the clean room. By learning AFM and
Raman spectroscopy, I then verified the ultrathin structure of the heterojunction. After covering the
electrodes on it using shadowmask technique, I also familiarized myself with probe station and PL
spectroscopy to test its electric and photoelectric properties. In summary, this project fabricated and
explored a novel heterojunction of GaSe/MoS? for next-generation photo-detectors, supplementing
the library of two-dimension heterojunctions. More importantly, this project brought me the
fulfillment of solving a scientific problem and opened the door to the research world for me.
“The greatest charm of science lies in making great from the ordinary”. I was deeply convinced by
this statement as I saw the magical nanocrystals in Prof. Jie Zeng’s lab at USTC, which motivated
me to join Zeng’s group and explore more in nanotechnology. With a design of a system by
depositing single Rh atom catalysts on VO? nanorods, my first project in Zeng’s group was to
investigate the interactions between catalysts and substrate. Unfortunately, my initial trial of
synthesizing VO? nanorods turned to be a struggle. I failed many times, either getting amorphous
clusters or obtaining giant crystals, but failure finally didn’t beat me up. Later, I realized that the
temperature must be controlled precisely during synthesis process due to that VO? easily underwent
phase transition. Finally, pure and uniform VO? nanorods were obtained. By changing NH?BH?
concentration and PH, I found that the activation of H atom was the Rate Limiting Step of this
catalytic process, which provided support for further DFT calculations. Combined with theoretical
simulations, this work perfectly demonstrated a simple system to investigate interactions between
catalysts and substrate. This project is precisely described in a paper which was published in
Angewandte. Chemie. (DOI:10.1002/anie.201701089) with me as co-author.
“Seeing essence from phenomenon is always the core of science”. After the nanocrystals catalysts
synthesis project, I began to focus on catalytic mechanism exploration. My second project in Prof.  Jie Zeng’s group was to study the catalytic mechanism of CO? hydrogenation over Co?N nanosheets,
whose catalytic performance exceeded commercial catalysts. I along with my mentor developed a
new method to incorporate nitrogen atoms into Cobalt nanosheets by flowing NH? gas to react with
Co nanosheets. Participating in part of the synthesis and catalytic tests of Co?N nanosheets, I mainly
focused on exploring the catalytic mechanism. During last winter vacation, I spent most of my
holidays with my mentor learning in situ DRIFT spectra and we fabricated our own device for this
project. Then, I put forward the formation of Co?NH? intermediate based on in situ DRIFT spectra
data, which was confirmed by XPS. Moreover, I also found that the adsorbed H?O* could activate NH
bonds of the Co?NH? intermediate from quasi in situ XPS data. This project not only developed a
general strategy for efficient low-cost catalysts of CO? hydrogenation, but also advanced our
understanding of CO? hydrogenation pathway. More information about this work is described in the
paper published in Nature Energy (DOI: 10.1038/s41560-017-0015-x) with me as a co-author.
“Enormous opportunities exist in putting science into practice”. In the field of catalysis, laboratory
catalysts have exceeded commercial catalysts for many years. One big challenge of putting
laboratory catalysts into commercial application is the fixation of heterogeneous catalysts, which is
exactly the focus of my third project in Prof. Yi Cui’s group at Stanford University. Last summer, I
was elected by the UGVR(Undergraduate Visiting Researcher) program and joined Cui’s group. The
goal of my project was to develop a porous polymer substrate for hydrogen evolution reaction,
corresponding to the fixation of laboratory catalysts. By depositing standard catalysts on this brandnew
substrate, I got excellent catalytic properties which far exceeded traditional substrates like glass,
carbon fiber, etc. Notably, I obtained an overpotential less than 20mV, which was much lower than
the overpotential of commercial Pt/C catalysts. More importantly, polymer substrate is cheap and
soft, which can meet the requirements of industrial production compared to traditional substrates.
This project is almost completed and I am preparing the paper “Highly-Efficient Electrocatalyst for
Hydrogen Evolution Reaction” along with my mentor (co-first author).
In retrospect, my major in chemical physics provided me with a strong academic background,
especially in physics and theoretical chemistry. Besides, I have abundant research experiences in
physics, chemistry and materials science, spanning from micro-electronics to catalysis and reaction
dynamics(like sum frequency generation, SFG). I’m also equipped with basic theoretical calculation
techniques like using Gauss and VASP to simulate simple reaction systems. In summary, my
education and research experience endowed me with diverse perspective, diligence and perseverance,
which well prepared me for further Ph.D. studies. Yale University is so prestigious worldwide for its
high-quality graduate education, providing countless outstanding scientists for humankind all the
time. Being one of the oldest university and a member of the Ivy League, Yale University has always
been the dream school of every STEM student around the world. For my Ph.D. training, I hope to
devote myself to Chemical and Environmental Engineering, breaking the boundaries of
Electrochemistry, Nanotechnology and Environmental Engineering. Since Yale University’ s Ph.D.
Program of Chemical and Environmental Engineering offers a fertile soil for interdisciplinary
research, I really hope I can continue my further study at Yale University.
As for my further studies, I’m really interested in Prof. Shu Hu’s research on stable photoelectronchemical
devices and photocatalysis. I plan to collaborate with him to develop photo-synthetic
electrochemical device for water splitting and nitrogen reduction. Besides, I am highly motivated by
Prof. André D. Taylor’s research on electrocatalysis and energy storage materials, which exactly
coincides with my research background in heterogeneous catalysis and nanotechnology. In addition,
Prof. Jaehong Kim’s research on photocatalysis and hydrogen peroxide synthesis also attracts me a
lot, which is of great potential for energy and environmental applications. As such, I am sincerely
looking forward to your favorable review of my application, and eagerly hope to join Yale
University to start a journey of discovery in this wonderland.