How a Singapore professor revolutionized manufacturing technology with nanomaterials

After experiencing the pain of losing a loved one to lung cancer at the tender age of 10, Assistant Professor Edison Ang turned the emotional setback into an inspiration.
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MANILA, Philippines — After experiencing the pain of losing a loved one to lung cancer at the tender age of 10, Dr. Edison Ang turned the emotional setback into an inspiration.

It spurred him to complete his doctorate degree at the age of 30 and then became an assistant professor at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NIE NTU, Singapore). This also led him to continually undertake high-level research and development, contribute to humanity and nurture the next generation of youth.

“I believe that the younger generation is humanity’s greatest asset and they are also the future of sustainability,” he said.

To this day, this belief has shaped his conviction towards research in order to empower teachers in inspiring the next generation of young scientists and engineers whom he believed would bring about change in the world.

As a researcher at NIE NTU, Dr. Ang is deeply interested in a wide range of nanoscale materials, particularly two-dimensional (2D) nanosheets that are 100,000 times thinner than the hair of human and graphene, which can be found in pencil lead.

The National Institute of Education is an autonomous institute under the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. It has been consistently ranked among the top 20 education institutions in the world and the top 3 in Asia by Quacquarelli Symonds ranking.
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“Understanding the properties of these nanomaterials has significant technological implications in energy conversion and storage, water purification and food and beverage implementations,” he shared.  

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His research activities include nanomaterial design and fabrication, surface modification, coating, arrays and thin-film fabrications, defect engineering, 3D printed materials, developing sustainable materials, materials characterization and device design.

“My team studies the fundamentals of nanomaterials, establish low-cost processing methods and resolve critical issues in a real-world application,” he added.

In 2021, Dr. Ang successfully applied for external funding to support two of his research projects: 3D-Printing Membrane for Industrial Wastewater Treatment and 3D-Printed Electrode for High-Energy Rechargeable Batteries.  

“3D printing technology is automated, scalable and saves time and money in manufacturing. We can print complex shapes without the use of a mould. We can also print multiple parts with precise dimensions in a single build with different designs,” he explained.

However, such technologies are not without challenges. One of the major challenges of implementing nanomaterials for rechargeable batteries and membrane filtration applications is the lack of structural design and controllable dimension.

For Dr. Ang, this limits their optimum and consistent performance for practical application. “The advancement of 3D printing technology has revolutionized the customization of functional materials. However, we must not lose sight of the importance of remaining sustainable while doing so,” he cautioned.

Reflecting on his research, Dr. Ang shared that in 2020, he started Nanotech Lab with the support of his collaborators and had since developed a unique 2D nanomaterials ink (graphene) which can be 3D printed, paving the way for new industrial opportunities in the fields of rechargeable batteries and membrane filtering.

Assistant Professor Ang's research activities include nanomaterial design and fabrication, surface modification, coating, arrays and thin-film fabrications, defect engineering, 3D printed materials, developing sustainable materials, materials characterization and device design.
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“These amazing works have resulted in two provisional patents,” he shared.

Following these achievements, Dr. Ang was awarded the Outstanding ASIAN Science Diplomat Award and Vebleo Fellow Award in 2021, recognizing his outstanding research work and leadership in the field of science, engineering and technology.

In 2022, he was awarded the Sabic Young Professional Award by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for his outstanding and internationally recognized contributions to particle technology for young professionals under 45.

Additionally, he was invited by the International Association of Advanced Materials to give a Young Scientist Medal Lecture on “Chemistry of Two-Dimensional Nanomaterials for Energy Storage and Membrane Technology,” showcasing his 3D printed works.

As a young faculty member, he was also elected by prestigious publishers, such as Elsevier, as an Early Career Editorial Board Member of Chemical Engineering Journal, Springer Nature as a Young Editorial Board Member of Journal of Leather Science and Engineering, and Frontiers as Reviewer Editorial Board Member of Frontiers in Chemical Engineering for Separation Processes.

As a message to budding postgraduate students, he shared, “Before beginning a graduate research program, consider your life purpose. My life purpose of making a difference in the world through research and development motivates me to get out of bed every morning. Find a passion that inspires you and makes your life worth living for.”

Interested in exploring a Ph.D. and learning from esteemed professors like Assistant Professor Edison Ang from NIE? Application for August 2023 intake will start from Oct. 3, 2022 to Jan. 13, 2023.

The National Institute of Education (NIE) is an autonomous institute under the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU, Singapore). It has been consistently ranked among the top 20 education institutions in the world and the top 3 in Asia by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking.

 

For more information, visit nie.edu.sg/aug2023.

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