A gram of water has a surface area of around a few thousandths of a square meter. A gram of activated charcoal, which is often used as an absorbent due to its extremely porous nature, can have a surface area of up to 3000 square meters. However, Zhijie Chen, a ZJU100 Young Professor at the Zhejiang University of China, built a type of material that has a surface area of more than 7000 square meters per gram by beginning the construction of the porous structure from the molecular level. He managed to store hydrogen using this incredible material with one of the highest deliverable hydrogen capacities.
Being able to control matter on the atomic, molecular, and framework levels, Zhijie has designed and synthesized a variety of crystalline porous materials with novel structures, high stability, and controllable functionalities. These incredible materials have been successfully used to store hydrogen and methane at high-performance levels, extract water from the air with great efficiency, and quickly degrade nerve agents, achieving feats that were previously unthinkable with conventional technologies. The precise construction combining simulation and reticular chemistry paves the way for new functional porous materials and helps achieve the goal of carbon neutrality.