2024 Professors of XJTLU Public Lecture:Catalysis- Changing the World for the Better

2024 Professors of XJTLU Public Lecture:Catalysis- Changing the World for the Better

Date and Time:

  • Time:17:30 – 19:00
  • Date:Wednesday, 19 June
  • Venue:BS – G21, SIP South Campus
  • Language:English
  • Speaker: Professor Xiaotai Wang


Catalysis is the speeding up of a chemical reaction by adding a small amount of a substance known as a catalyst. The catalyst gets regenerated and recycled after the reaction. Catalysis plays a crucial role in many industrial processes, contributing to 35% of the world’s GDP. The Nobel prize in chemistry has been awarded seven times for catalysis. Contemporary catalytic science is notable for both conceptual and technical innovation, and it has three pillars: transition metal (TM) catalysis, organocatalysis, and biocatalysis. This talk will introduce these subfields of catalysis to a general audience, with a focus on TM catalysis, which has revolutionized both the art of chemical synthesis in research labs and the manufacturing of chemical products in industry. Recently with the growing relevance of sustainability, there has been much effort to develop catalysts based on Earth-abundant transition metals to achieve sustainable catalysis. In TM-catalyzed reactions, the intermediate chemical species are frequently highly reactive and not easily observable by experiment. Thus, computational modeling can play a critical role in revealing the detailed mechanism of TM catalysis, and this is my field of study. I will show examples of our computational studies of cutting-edge TM catalysis, which not only rationalize experimental facts, but also gain novel insights that can guide further experimental work.

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Professor Xiaotai Wang

Xiaotai Wang received his undergraduate and Master’s education in China. Afterwards he won a full scholarship from the University of Virginia, which brought him to the US to pursue a PhD in chemistry. This was followed by two short postdocs at the University of Utah and Iowa State University. His PhD and postdoc work were concerned with the synthesis and reactivity of organometallic compounds. After beginning his independent career in the US, Dr. Wang studied the synthesis and properties of a class of advanced materials known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). Dr. Wang’s current research interests are in computational organometallic chemistry, with a focus on studying the mechanisms of transition metal-catalyzed synthetically useful reactions. Research in this direction addresses the experimental-theoretical synergy and provides ideas and insights for new reaction development.

Dr. Xiaotai Wang joined Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) as a professor of chemistry in November 2022. He had previously worked at the University of Colorado Denver, moving up the ranks of assistant professor, associate professor (tenured), and professor (tenured). He was a visiting professor/scholar at MIT, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Hoffmann Institute in Shenzhen. Working at XJTLU, a unique international university in China, Dr. Wang aims to cultivate future generations of scientists and world citizens.