Yan Jiao

Professor Yan Jiao

Acting/Deputy Head, School of Chemical Eng

School of Chemical Engineering

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

My research endeavours to design superior electrocatalyst materials for clean energy conversion reactions (i.e. converting electrical energy into chemical energy and vice versa). Rooted in molecular modelling and through a multidisciplinary approach, my research work interweaves materials science, chemical engineering, nanotechnology, and physical chemistry.

I embarked on my academic journey by earning a PhD from the School of Chemical Engineering at The University of Queensland (UQ) in October 2012. My passion for research led me to the University of Adelaide, where I started as a Research Fellow followed by being appointed as Senior Lecturer in 2019. In 2021 when I was promoted to Associate Professor.

My dedication to the field has been recognized with several accolades, including the Young Tall Poppy Award in 2020. I am also honoured to be a finalist for the prestigious 2022 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year. I am currently serving as a member of the College of Experts for the Australian Research Council (https://www.arc.gov.au/about-arc/arc-profile/arc-committees/arc-college-experts).

With a dedication to advancing knowledge, I have published more than 110 papers in esteemed journals such as Nature Energy, Nature Communications, Journal of the American Chemical Society, and Energy & Environmental Science. My research publications have collectively received more than 32,000 citations, with an h-index of 67. My work has also earned me the recognition of being a Highly-Cited Researcher in Chemistry by Clarivate Analytics.










Research Expertise

Pioneering the Future of Energy Materials Design

My research expertise is centred on molecular modelling, a powerful tool that paves the way for innovative developments in computational electrochemistry and the design of energy materials through computational methods.

Background: Australia's Renewable Energy Landscape

Australia's abundant sunshine and prevailing wind have positioned the nation at the forefront of transitioning to a renewable energy-supported economy. South Australia is leading this charge and has achieved a 10-day running on 100% renewable energy in the summer of 2023. This rapid expansion of renewable electricity offers both immediate and long-term societal benefits, such as the reduction of millions of tons of CO2 emissions, the resolution of energy crises, and the potential creation of substantial revenues for Australia in the energy market - possibly in the billions of dollars.

The challenge of converting and storing renewable electricity is central to our sustainable future. Catalyst materials can help achieve this goal, by converting excessively generated renewable electricity into chemicals and fuels (and many other relevant reactions). My research, focusing on molecular modelling, aims to meet this challenge by developing catalyst materials for efficient energy conversion. This method enables targeted material design, moving beyond traditional trial-and-error processes, and focuses on creating advanced catalysts. Utilizing hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and battery as energy carriers, with renewable energy as input, my work strives to produce and utilize clean fuels that align with our planet's well-being.

Methodology: Catalyst Discovery Enabled by Modelling and Collaborative Approach

The specific methodology I employ mainly involves molecular modelling on high-performance computers (HPC). By constructing atom-by-atom models of catalyst materials, I explore the energetics of reaction pathways. This involves creatively combining elements such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen to generate diverse chemicals and fuels. Such an understanding lays the foundation for designing catalyst materials that can produce more chemicals/fuels from the same amount of renewable electricity.

My research goes beyond mere theoretical computations. It includes extensive collaboration with experimental researchers, using their observations to shape my models and forecast more effective catalyst materials for experimental validation. Additionally, I am pushing the boundaries in computational electrochemistry theory, allowing for more accurate modeling of the energy conversion process and the design of more reliable catalyst materials.



Recorded Research Presentations

Recommended Reading

  • Turning the Tide for Academic Women in STEM: A Postpandemic Vision for Supporting Female Scientists. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsnano.1c09686 (Note from Yan: I didn't write this perspective, but I strongly support the recommendations set out in this perspective. I received tremendous support and mentorship during my career development. That support and mentorship mean a lot to me and I would like to advocate for the community to show provide more opportunities, mentorship and support to young female researchers.)
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2024 - ongoing Professor University of Adelaide
    2023 - ongoing Acting Head, School of Chemical Engineering University of Adelaide
    2022 - ongoing Deputy Head, School of Chemical Engineering University of Adelaide
    2021 - 2023 Associate Professor University of Adelaide
    2020 - ongoing Future Fellow University of Adelaide
    2020 - 2021 Director of Research, School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials University of Adelaide
    2019 - 2022 Theme Leader, Functional Materials, Faculty of ECMS University of Adelaide
    2019 - 2021 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2018 - ongoing Deputy Director, Centre for Materials in Energy and Catalysis University of Adelaide
    2018 - 2018 Beacon Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    2012 - 2017 Postdoctoral Researcher University of Adelaide
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2020 Award Highly Cited Researcher (Chemistry) Clarivate Analytics Australia -
    2015 Award Women's Research Excellence Awards Early Career, The University of Adelaide - - -
    2013 Award Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad - - -
    2013 Award Dean's Award for Research Higher Degree Excellence, The University of Queensland - - -
    2012 Award Graduate School International Travel Award, The University of Queensland - - -
    2009 Scholarship UQIRTA, The University of Queensland - - -
    2009 Scholarship School of Engineering Scholarship, The University of Queensland - - -
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    Chinese (Mandarin) Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
    English Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2009 - 2012 The University of Queensland Australia PhD
    2001 - 2005 Ocean University of China China BSc
  • Research Interests

  • CE230100032. ARC Centre of Excellence for Carbon Science and Innovation. Program 3 Leader. $35,000,000. 2023-2030
  • LE230100113. Cryogenic Near-Field Imaging and Spectroscopy Facility at the 10-nm-Scale. ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities. CI. $909,754. 2023.
  • FT190100636. Develop Catalyst Materials for Future Fuels by Operando Computation. ARC Future Fellowship. Sole CI. $767,158. 2020-2023
  • DP190103472. Design of Electrocatalysts for Hydrogen-Free Ammonia Production under Ambient Conditions. ARC - Discovery Projects. Lead CI. $350,000. 2019 - 2023
  • FND000164. Density Functional Theory aided material design for solar-fuel generation, University of Adelaide - Research Fellowships Scheme. Sole CI. $120,000.00 2018
  • ENG 1003 Programming (MATLAB/Excel)
  • CHEM ENG 7102 Computation for Materials Engineering
  • CHEM ENG 1011 Introduction to Process Modelling
  • CHEM ENG 3026 Unit Operation
  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2024 Principal Supervisor First-principles Simulations on Catalysts for Electrochemical Mechanism Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Peiqi Qiu
    2022 Principal Supervisor Electrode/electrolyte Interphase Engineerings for Advanced Aqueous Zinc-ion Batteries Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Yilong Zhu
    2022 Co-Supervisor Synthesizing highly selective and tuneable wide-bandgap ternary Aluminium-Gallium Oxide (AlxGa1-x)2O3 using Plasma Enhanced Atomic Layer Deposition (PEALD) with Trimethylaluminum (TMA,AI(CH3)3) and Trimethylgallium (TMG,Ga(CH3)3). Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Yong Cheow Gary Lim
    2021 Co-Supervisor iPhD Project: Upscaling Atomic Layer Etching from the Bench to Full Fabrication Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Xiting Zhou
    2021 Principal Supervisor Design Electrocatalyst Materials for Synthetic Fuel/Chemical Production by Molecular Modelling Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Yiran Jiao
    2021 Principal Supervisor Design of Semiconductor Based Photo-/Electro-Catalyst Materials for Water Splitting Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Sijia Fu
    2021 Principal Supervisor Design Electrocatalysts for Clean Energy Conversion Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Lin Jiang
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 - 2024 Principal Supervisor Insights for Electrocatalytic Coupling of Small Molecules by Density Functional Theory (DFT) Simulation Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Ling Chen
    2019 - 2021 Principal Supervisor Design of g-C3N4 Based Electrocatalysts for CO2 Reduction to Ethylene by Molecular Modelling Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Sijia Fu
    2018 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Hepatitis B core (HBc) virus like particle (VLP) as a platform for innovation of chimeric adjuvant-free VLP vaccines targeting oncoviruses Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Bingyang Zhang
    2017 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Computational Design of Catalysts for Electrochemical Hydrogen Evolution and Nitrogen Reduction Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Xin Liu
    2017 - 2021 Co-Supervisor Directing Selectivity of Carbon Dioxide Reduction Reaction via Heteroatom Doping Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Xing Zhi
    2017 - 2022 Principal Supervisor Development of Functional Iron-based Nanomaterials for Biomedical and Energy Conversion Applications Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Yechuan Zhang
    2017 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Advanced Nano-Array Catalysts for Electrochemical Energy Conversion Reactions Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jinlong Liu
    2017 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Synthesis of Advanced Electrocatalysts via the Ampoule Method for Water Electrolysis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Yongqiang Zhao
  • Position: Acting/Deputy Head, School of Chemical Eng
  • Phone: 83130753
  • Email: yan.jiao@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Engineering North, floor First Floor
  • Room: N116
  • Org Unit: Materials Engineering

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