Three Research Papers Published in Nature Series Journals

Department of Applied Physics of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) contributed three research papers that were recently published in the Nature series journals, which are among the most authoritative and recognised scientific journals in the world that publish high-quality research in all fields of science and technology.

Optoelectronic Resistive Random-Access Memory (ORRAM) for Neuromorphic Vision Sensors – “Nature Nanotechnology”

Dr. CHAI Yang, Associate Professor, Department of Applied Physics, and his team developed an optoelectronic device that mimics the functions of human retina in image sensing, memorization, and pre-processing, with image recognition rate and efficiency exceeding existing artificial visual systems. Experimental findings demonstrate the innovation’s great potential in enhancing neuromorphic visual system by simplifying the circuitry, efficiently processing overwhelming amount of dynamic visual information, and greatly reducing power consumption. It thus offers promising contribution towards the development of applications in edge computing and Internet of Things.

Continuous Artificial Synthesis of Glucose Precursor Using Enzyme-Immobilised Microfluidic Reactors – “Nature Communications”

Dr. ZHANG Xuming, Associate Professor, Department of Applied Physics, and his team discovered technology to replicate the opto-fluidic system of leave vein to create micro-reactors for conducting the first phase reaction of CO2 fixation in natural photosynthesis. Experimental findings indicate that the micro-reactors requires only very small amount of RuBisCO (the enzyme involved in the first major step of photosynthesis) for continuous synthesis of glucose (the basic food material). The innovation contributes to artificial photosynthesis developments and will help relieve food crisis and produce biofuel.

Enhanced Sieving from Exfoliated MoS2 Eembranes via Covalent Funcationalisation – “Nature Materials”

Dr. Nicolas ONOFRIO, Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Physics, and his team developed a nanolaminate membrane based on covalently functionalised molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) nanosheets. Nanolaminate membranes made of two-dimensional (2D) materials such as graphene oxide are promising candidates for molecular sieving via size-limited diffusion in the two-dimensional capillaries, but high hydrophilicity makes these membranes unstable in water. The covalent functionalisation of exfoliated nanosheets can solve this problem by efficiently control the interlayer spacing to enhance the sieving performance of nanolaminate membranes. They demonstrate remarkable performance towards water purification and desalination, with high rejection of micropollutants and sodium chloride (NaCl) (over 90% and 87% respectively), compared to the current state of the art. The novel strategy paves the way for the preparation of membranes with tuneable sieving behaviour. The control of the surface chemistry of exfoliated 2D materials allows further exploration of the nanofluidic phenomena inside nanolaminate membranes at fundamental and practical levels for water purification or osmotic energy.

Prof. Daniel LAU, Head of the Department of Applied Physics, takes pride in the contributions of the three researchers and said, “the Department will continue to devote its efforts in the pursuit of excellence in teaching and research”.


“PolyU has been undertaking cutting-edge research that delivers real impact to the academia and to the world. We are committed to nurturing our academics and researchers to collaborate locally and internationally in fundamental and translational research, and encouraging them to contribute their research findings in prestigious and world-renowned journals,” said Prof. Alex WAI, Vice President (Research Development), PolyU.