The School of Chemical Engineering welcomes Dr. Kang Liang

School of Chemical Engineering welcomes Dr. Kang Liang, one of the new Scientia Fellow appointed as a joint member with the School of Biomedical Engineering. Kang’s research sits at the interface of material science, chemistry, biomedical sciences.

Dr Kang Liang joined the Faculty of Engineering, UNSW Sydney in April 2017 through a dual appointment across the School of Chemical Engineering and the School of Biomedical Engineering. Kang joins us from CSIRO Manufacturing where he worked as a research fellow and then became a research scientist. Dr. Kang Liang

Kang’s research involves engineering nanostructured porous materials to address emerging challenges in biomedicine. He also has a strong interest in exploring these materials for environmental and energy applications.

One of the materials he is currently working with is called metal-organic frameworks. It is a tiny crystal with one of the largest surface areas known by mankind. The surface area from a spoonful of this material is comparable to the area of Centennial Park. With this property, it is very promising for processes such as gas capture and separation applications. He also uses these crystals for biotechnology purposes, such as stabilizing Using Dr. Kang Liang's method the prints glow under UV-light and different colours enzymes or protecting living cells.

An interesting project that he’s been involved in was inspired by the humble sea urchin. Similar to how these soft bodies are able to construct a mineralised shell to protect themselves, he used biomolecules-like enzymes or even living cells to self-construct a metal-organic framework shell around themselves so they can be protected against heat, harsh chemicals or radiation. Some drugs become ineffective if they are not kept cool and protected from foreign organisms, making them particularly difficult to transport in remote communities. This development can significantly change the way in which delicate drugs or vaccines are protected.

I think nanostructured materials hold a lot of promise in solving many practical issues from energy shortage to cancer treatments

Dr. Kang Liang

Kang says, ‘I am a chemical engineer by training, so I would like to solve practical problems from bottom-up. I think nanostructured materials hold a lot of promise in solving many practical issues from energy shortage to cancer treatments. If we can establish some toolkits with these nanomaterials, that could help address a lot of issues we are currently facing.’

Kang’s research has also been widely covered by media, particularly his work in developing a technique which allows forensics to capture fingerprints and make them glow in 30 seconds. This technique uses biomolecules from fingerprint residues to initiate the formation of luminescent crystals on the fingerprints in 30 seconds – allowing for faster and more precise analysis. He even had the chance to meet Tom Hanks on a Spanish TV show!

Fun Facts about Kang:
-    Likes Tennis and Golf
-    Moved to Sydney for this role
-    He and his friends jumped out of an airplane to study effect of the low-gravitational forces in the crystallisation of metal-organic frameworks
-    Favourite food: Sichuan spicy hotpot

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