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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Qingfeng Zhang Receives Prestigious Award

Qingfeng Zhang, a fourth-year graduate student in Prof. Hui Wang’s group in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been awarded with a highly prestigious Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad from the China Scholarship Council in recognition of his research accomplishments.  He will receive a certificate and a cash prize of $6,000 in an award ceremony that will be held in the Embassy of China in Washington, DC.  This award, first established in 2003, recognizes outstanding achievements among Chinese graduate students abroad to encourage research excellence.  It is granted across all fields of study and is presented to students who have achieved outstanding performance in their Ph.D. studies.

Qingfeng came to University of South Carolina after receiving his M.S. degree in Chemistry from Xiamen University in China in 2012.  Qingfeng’s research at USC has been focusing on the structure-property relationships of noble metal nanoparticles in the context of nanoplasmonics and nanocatalysis.  Qingfeng demonstrated that tunable plasmon resonances and superior catalytic activities can be integrated on the same nanoparticle through deliberate particle geometry control, thereby allowing one to use the nanoparticles for a dual purpose: as substrates for plasmon-enhanced spectroscopies and efficient surface catalysts.  Such dual functionality enables one to gain quantitative insights into the facet-dependent molecular transformations on noble metal nanocatalysts using plasmon-enhanced spectroscopy as an ultrasensitive spectroscopic tool with unique time-resolving and molecular finger-printing capabilities.  More recently, Qingfeng further expanded his research interest into plasmonic hot electron-driven photoreactions on noble metal nanoparticles, an emerging field still at its embryonic stage.  Qingfeng used surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy as a unique approach to precisely monitor, in real time and one-particle-at-a-time, the plasmon-driven photocatalytic reactions at the molecule-nanoparticle interfaces.  The knowledge gained from Qingfeng’s work has a profound impact on the fundamental mechanistic understanding of plasmon-driven photocatalysis, providing new design principles for the next generation noble metal photocatalysts. 

Within three years or so, Qingfeng has published seven first-author papers and co-authored five papers in well-respected journals, such as Nano Letters, Journal of The American Chemical Society, ACS Nano, ACS Catalysis, Chemistry of Materials, and Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.  Several of his papers were among the Monthly or Yearly “Most Read Articles” of the journals.  He has a few more first-author papers currently in preparation for submission.  Qingfeng has also received several competitive awards at USC.  In January 2016, he received funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research through a SPARC Graduate Research Award.  More recently, Qingfeng was selected to be the inaugural NanoCenter Dissertation Fellow in recognition of his accomplishments in nanoscience research.  With the enhanced support by the NanoCenter Dissertation Fellowship and the SPARC Graduate Research Award, Qingfeng is well on his way to accomplishing award-winning dissertation work that will broadly excite the nanophotonics and nanocatalysis communities for many years to come.

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