A*STAR Outstanding Publications Award 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014
A*STAR Patent Power Award 2009 and 2010
Singapore HEALTH Award (Platinum) 2012, (Gold) 2008 and 2010

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RESEARCH AREAS > Research Staff Details

Green Chemistry and Energy


Group Leader

Tel: 6824 7162
Email: ygzhang@ibn.a-star.edu.sg

View CV

Postdoc Research Associate, Harvard University (USA), 2002-2004
RIKEN Fellow, The Institute of Chemical and Physical Research (Japan), 1996-1997, 2000-2001
Professor, University of Science & Technology of China (China), 1998-2000

Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry, University of Science and Technology of China, 1992
M.S. in Physical Chemistry, University of Science and Technology of China, 1990
B.S. in Geochemistry, University of Science and Technology of China, 1987

Projects Publications Patents


1. Macromolecular Antimicrobials to Combat Microbes

Chuan Yang, Shaoqiong Liu, Jeremy Tan, Zhan Yuin Ong, Victor Ng, Noel Xu, Xin Ding, Willy Chin, David Voo, Siti Nurhanna Riduan, Yugen Zhang and Yi Yan Yang

Due to the increasing resistance of bacteria to conventional antibiotics, macromolecular antimicrobial peptides and polymers have received significant attention. Most conventional antibiotics do not physically damage the cell wall but penetrate into the target microorganism and act on specific targets, such as breakage of double-stranded DNA due to inhibition of DNA gyrase, blockage of cell division and triggering of the intrinsic autolysins. As a consequence, bacterial morphology is preserved and the bacteria can easily develop resistance. In contrast, our macromolecular antimicrobials do not have a specific target in microbes, and they interact with microbial membranes based on electrostatic interaction, thereby inducing damage to the microbial membranes by forming pores in the membranes. This physical action prevents microbes from developing resistance, and promotes lysis of multidrug-resistant microbes. In this project, we have designed and synthesized amphiphilic antimicrobial peptides and polymers, which form a secondary structure when in contact with the bacterial cell membrane to enhance interactions with lipid domains of the bacterial membrane, disrupting the membrane. The structure of the macromolecules is optimized in terms of hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity balance, molecular weight, counter ion and quaternization agent to achieve strong antimicrobial activities with no or minimal toxicity for applications in blood stream or skin infections, tuberculosis, surface sterilization and consumer products. The antimicrobial macromolecules are also formulated as antimicrobial and antifouling coatings for catheters, medical devices and implants to prevent infections associated with biofilms.

Green Chemistry and Energy

1. Development of New Catalytic Systems for Green Synthesis, Carbon Dioxide Utilization and Renewable Energy

Dingyi Yu, Liuqun Gu, Ting Lu, Siti Nurhanna Riduan, Yugen Zhang and Jackie Y. Ying

Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. To achieve this target, we are interested in the development of novel green and environmentally friendly technology for organic synthesis and the pharmaceuticals industry. Our research is focused on metal-free organo catalysis, sustainable resources (e.g. using CO2 as C1 resource), and environmentally benign catalysis (e.g. non-toxic, inexpensive iron catalysts and water-mediated reactions). We are also interested in the development of alternative and renewable energy resources and technologies through the use of novel catalyst systems. This includes creating highly efficient and highly selective catalyst systems for the dehydration of biomass into chemicals, fuels and materials. We are also working on transforming greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into useful chemicals or fuels such as methanol.

2. Development of New Heterogeneous Catalysts for the Asymmetric Synthesis of Pharmaceuticals

Yugen Zhang, Ting Lu, Leng Leng Chng, Nandanan Erathodiyil and Jackie Y. Ying

Heterogeneous catalysis has many advantages over homogeneous catalysis. However, there are certain limitations on current protocols for producing heterogeneous catalysts via the immobilization of homogeneous catalysts onto inorganic or organic solid supports. This project aims to develop a new type of supported catalysts based on mesoporous silica and polymers, and organic-inorganic nanocomposites. This research will focus on the development of new materials and new chemistry. Organocatalysts, organometallic catalysts or biocatalysts will be investigated. The aim of this study is to build new catalyst support platforms to develop highly efficient catalyst systems. The target heterogeneous catalysts will allow for the synthesis of pharmaceuticals with superb activity, excellent enantioselectivity and recyclability. They will also enhance efficiency in the production of pharmaceuticals and specialty chemicals.

3. Porous Materials for Carbon Capture and Water Treatment

Yugen Zhang

IBN is working on the development of functional porous materials. These porous materials are specifically designed for carbon capture, as well as toxic metal removal from water.

4. Bio-Renewable Chemicals from Biomass and Biomass-Derived Feedstock

Guangshun Yi, Xiukai Li, Liuqun Gu, Ting Lu, Siew Ping Teong and Yugen Zhang

The diminishing fossil fuel reserves and the effects of global warming are of major concerns. Hence, the development of sustainable biomass-derived energy and chemicals to replace the dependence on petroleum feedstock is of critical importance. This project aims to develop highly efficient catalyst systems, green and cost-efficient processes for the production of industrial chemicals from raw biomass and biomass-derived feedstock, such as cellulose, sugars, glycerol and bioethanol. Our targets include useful chemicals such as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), acrylic acid, adipic acid, olefins, xylitol, and sorbitol.


NEW! Main-Chain Organic Frameworks with Advanced Catalytic Functionalities
ACS Catalysis, 5 (2015) 2681-2691.
(IF: 7.572) article

Structure-Directing Star-Shaped Block Copolymers: Supramolecular Vesicles for the Delivery of Anticancer Drugs
Journal of Controlled Release, (2015)
DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2015.03.027.
(IF: 7.261) article

Cartilage Synthesis in Hyaluronic Acid-Tyramine Constructs
Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 3 (2015) 1942-1956.
(IF: 6.626) article



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