Humboldt Foundation awards Ningyan Cheng

Chinese materials scientist joined the MPIE to design new alloys for green energy

April 22, 2022

Dr. Ningyan Cheng, associate professor at the Anhui University (China), was awarded with a Humboldt Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The award enables her to continue her research at any host institution in Germany for two years. Cheng started in April 2022 at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (MPIE) to focus on her research about novel high entropy alloys for electrocatalysis. She works in the MPIE groups “Nanoanalytics and Interfaces” and “Advanced Transmission Electron Microscopy”, headed by Prof. Christina Scheu and Dr. Christian Liebscher.

Electrocatalysts are needed to efficiently convert electrical into chemical energy thus enabling the storage of excessive electrical energy generated by renewable energy sources like solar or wind plants. High entropy alloys are solid solutions with at least five principal elements. Owing to the unique properties generated from the synergy of the mixed elements, high entropy alloys have been considered as promising candidates for efficient electrocatalysts. However, there is still a lack of in-depth understanding of their catalytic mechanisms. Cheng’s research is now focusing on the electrocatalytic mechanistic studies of novel high entropy alloys. Her goal is to form the basis of a road-map for the design and application of novel high entropy alloys for emerging energy technologies. “I’m so excited and happy to receive the Humboldt fellowship and work with Tina and Christian here at MPIE. The advanced microscopy facilities and their expertise give me the opportunity to do experiments on the electrocatalytic activity of high entropy alloys”, says Cheng.

Cheng received her PhD in July 2020 from the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials at the University of Wollongong. Her research focusses on the synthesis of metal organic frameworks and noble-metal free electrocatalysts derived from them. Moreover, she is specialized on diverse atomic scale characterization techniques such as scanning transmission electron microscopy and in-situ deformation, heating and cooling experiments within them. Cheng received several awards for her outstanding research like national scholarships during her bachelor and master studies, a scholarship & international postgraduate tuition award 2017 and a postgraduate student Merit award of the University of Wollongong.

The Humboldt Foundation supports academic cooperation between outstanding scientists from abroad and in Germany. It grants these research fellowships to researchers who have excellent qualifications and their own research profile. As the awardee is free to choose any host institution in Germany, the prize counts as a great honour for both the awardee and the host institution.

Author: Yasmin Ahmed Salem

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