Some information on the development and operation of the LIFM
Establishment of the Lehn Institute of Functional Materials (LIFM)
As a pilot and demonstration unit of Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU) to explore new mechanisms for training of internationalized talents and coordination on scientific research, the Lehn Institute of Functional Materials (LIFM) was jointly founded by Jean-Marie Lehn, French scientist and Nobel Prize laureate, Dieter Fenske, academician of German Academy of Sciences, Prof. Xiaoming Chen, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2010. The establishment of LIFM was initiated by the then President of SYSU, Prof. Ningsheng Xu through coordination and promotion, winning the attention and support of SYSU’s leaders and functional departments at every level. In 2012, the grand kick-off ceremony of the LIFM was held and attended by the leadership of the People’s Government of Guangdong Province, the Department of Education of Guangdong Province, the Administration of the Foreign Experts Affairs of Guangdong Province and Foreign Affairs Office, the Consul-General of the Consulate General of France in Guangzhou, the Vice-Consul of the Consulate General of Germany in Guangzhou, the Director of the Guangzhou Office of Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) and other guests, while the International Advanced Functional Materials Symposium was held and attended by dozens of top scholars from the U.S., Germany, France, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Mainland China.
Initial Development of the LIFM
In the course of about two years upon establishment, the LIFM obtained strong support and investment from SYSU, the Department of Education of Guangdong Province and the People’s Government of Guangdong Province, introduced a number of scholars with international reputation, held several high-level academic exchanges, achieved the preliminary establishment of a world-class instrument platform and research office, promoted an internationalized talent training mode. A mode featuring « Foreign PI + Chinese PI + Research Assistant (Junior Professor) » in combination with « Foreign Adjunct and Visiting High-Level Scholars + Chinese High-Quality Scholars » is applied to every research direction, so as to set up a highly efficient research team, to train young research talents, postdoctoral researchers and doctoral students, and to facilitate LIFM’s talent team building. So far, LIFM’s foreign supervisors have recruited 9 postdoctoral researchers and 31 doctoral students, among which 4 postdoctoral researchers and 12 doctoral students have been sent abroad in succession for joint training, 2 foreign postdoctoral researchers, 4 postdoctoral researchers graduating from foreign well-known universities and 1 foreign exchange student. Among them, 12 doctoral students have graduated, 4 postdoctoral researchers are working in postdoctoral stations, 1 outstanding postdoctoral researcher is sponsored by the state for studying abroad, and 2 postdoctoral researchers are serving LIFM.
Operation and Management of the LIFM
The PIs are responsible for directing LIFM’s scientific research tasks, either on the spot or remotely; and Deputy Directors, Prof. Fenske and Prof. Chengyong Su, are responsible for LIFM’s daily operation and specific management under the guidance of Honorary Director Jean-Marie Lehn and Director Xiao-Ming Chen. The LIFM also engages Ji-Jun Jiang, Dawei Wang and Yongguang Li to deal with LIFM’s daily concerns as well as Yingzi Wang & Wenjun Li to act as Executive Secretaries. A daily management and operation mechanism for scientific research, administration, foreign affairs, laboratory, equipment, enrollment, training, exchange and the like is established and improved gradually.
Establishment of Research Directions at the LIFM
In light of national and local demands in such strategic high-tech fields as energy, environment and materials, the LIFM has established six research directions including Supramolecular Chemistry, Cluster and Nanomaterials Chemistry, Energy and Catalytic Chemistry, Photochemistry and Materials as well as Crystal Engineering, and engages J.-M. Lehn, Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry from the University of Strasbourg, D. Fenske, academician of German Academy of Sciences from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, M. Mayor, Director of Natural Sciences Committee of University of Basel, H. Grützmacher from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), V. W.-W. Yam, academician from Hong Kong University and X.-M. Chen, academician from SYSU to be Principal Investigators (PIs) of each direction. In addition to the said PIs, the LIFM hosts some internationally recognized scholars as visiting professors and adjunct professors: Prof. Hongcai Zhou from Texas A&M University, and Prof. Mihail-Dumitru Barboiu from European Institute of Membranes, who was awarded the Recruitment Program of Global Experts (Short Term) in 2015; Olaf Fuhr and Andreas Echhofer from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology s adjunct associate professors and research assistants to Prof.Fenske. The LIFM also benefits from the assistance of high-quality Chinese researchers who participate in various scientific researches, for the purpose of strengthening the research teams. They include Cheng-Yong Su (Distinguished Young Scholar and Yangtze River Scholar), Mingliang Tong (Distinguished Young Scholar and Yangtze River Scholar), Jie-Peng Zhang (Distinguished Young Scholar and Yangtze River Scholar), Prof. Daibin Kuang (Pearl River Scholar) and, since 2015, Guangqin Li, who was selected for the Recruitment Program for Young Professionals initiated by the CCCPC Organization Department.
LIFM is carrying out various activities based on the research directions. In recent years, more than 200 high-quality academic papers were published in some internationally-renowned journals in the fields chemistry and materials like Science, Nat. Commun., Chem. Soc. Rev., J. Am. Chem. Soc., Angew. Chem., Adv. Mater. and Chem. Sci., in addition, some domestic and international patents were filed and a series of high-standard international symposia were held to promote multi-vector academic exchanges.
Establishment of an Open Research Infrastructure at the LIFM
Supported by SYSU and Guangdong Province, a public instrument platform and high-standard research office, with advanced equipment and complete functions has taken shape. The laboratory space of LIFM covers an area of about 600 square meters, comprising 3 synthesis laboratories and 5 instrument rooms.
In light of the requirements of LIFM’s research directions together with needs of the School of Chemistry of SYSU, LIFM has purchased a good number of state-of-the-art and valuable instruments, worth more than RMB 30 million. The instruments include high-resolution electron microscopes, dual-microfocus single-crystal diffractometers, powder diffractometers, high-resolution mass spectrometers and superconducting nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers. Additional instruments and devices will be purchased as required.
LIFM practices an open access policy by sharing all instruments on and off campus. It has established a website for making reservations, developed a standardized management and operation mechanism, and provided the School of Chemistry with a large advanced and open instrument platform, giving thus great support to the establishment of top-level chemistry-related disciplines and high-level scientific research.