Professor, Chemical Engineering; Canada Research Chair in Advanced Materials for Clean Energy

Research interests: nanostructured catalysts and membranes for fuel cells and water purification


Professor Zhongwei Chen’s research focuses on developing advanced nanomaterials for fuel cells, batteries, supercapacitors  and sensors applications. In addition to his role as Canada Research Chair in Advanced Materials for Clean Energy and Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Chen is responsible for the Applied Nanomaterials and Clean Energy Laboratory at the University of Waterloo. He has published 1 book, 5 book chapters and more than 100 peer reviewed journal articles. These publications have earned him to date over 4500 citations with H-index 45. He is also listed as inventor on 11 US/international patents, with two licensed to start-up companies in USA. Chen also serves as an editorial board member for peer-reviewed journals including Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing), Frontiers in Fuel Cells, International Journal of Nano Studies & Technology (IJNST), Canadian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences and the Vice President of the International Academy of Electrochemical Energy Science (IAOEES).

Chen has developed advanced nanomaterials with various unique functionalities and properties for fuel cells, batteries and sensors application:

  1. 1-D nanostructures including Carbon nanotubes, Platinum nanotubes and nanowires, and Conductive polymer nanowires and nanotubes;
  2. 2-D nanomaterials like Graphene and Metal oxide nanosheets and
  3. 3-D nanomaterias such as nanoporous carbon/metal oxides particles and membranes and zeolite materials.

Chen was the first to propose, study, and demonstrate that:

  1. supportless platinum nanotubes can improve durability, activity, catalyst utilization, thus reducing the use of platinum and the cost of fuel cells,
  2. in-situ functionalized  Graphene oxides based nanocomposite membranes to improve fuel cell operating conditions and performance and
  3. Nano-engineered core-corona bifunctional catalysts for rechargeable zinc-air batteries.

Recently he developed a new class of non-precious metal catalysts that could eliminate the need for precious metals (platinum, palladium, gold, silver, etc.), thus reducing the cost of fuel cells dramatically. Most notably, his team and the General Motors Global Research and Development Center have developed a novel, economical flash heat treatment (FHT) for fabricated silicon-based Li-ion electrodes to boost the performance and cycle capability of Li-ion batteries. The emphasis of a simplified process represents a promising avenue for the production of industrially viable high-performance Si-based electrodes, which could be extended for roll-to-roll manufacturing of next-generation Li-Ion batteries.


  • PhD, University of California – Riverside
  • MSChE, East China University of Science and Technology, China
  • BS, Nanjing University of Technology, China

Zhongwei Chen

    University of Waterloo