Chemist Mao named finalist in Blavatnik Awards

Xianwen Mao, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, has been recognized for his innovations in imaging nanoscale systems by the New York Academy of Sciences and the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

As a finalist for the 2020 Blavatnik Regional Awards, Mao will receive a $10,000 prize and be honored with other winners and finalists at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event has been postponed and is currently scheduled for September 2021.

The award committee cited Mao’s first-of-its kind technique called COMPEITS (competition-enabled imaging technique with super-resolution), which allows for real-time optical imaging of non-fluorescent processes with nanometer resolution.

Mao’s COMPEITS technique enables imaging of chemical and biological system that do not naturally fluoresce, with implications in fields ranging from materials engineering to nanotechnology and energy sciences.

“My current research is focused on materials design and imaging tool development for understanding catalytic and transport processes in nanoscale (photo)electrochemical systems,” Mao said, “with applications in emerging sustainability technologies, such as solar energy conversion and water purification.”

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