Dr. Wenhui Niu receives a Minerva Fast-Track Fellowship

Dr. Wenhui Niu was awarded a Minerva Fast Track position by the Max Planck Society to establish her first research group “Quantum Chiral Nanocarbons” at the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle.

Chiral nanocarbons have attracted growing attention due to their exotic 3D structure, inherent chirality, and intriguing optoelectronic properties, in particular, their unique chiral-induced spin selectivity (CISS) effect. Due to the unique structural tunability and the specificity of quantum sensing, chiral nanocarbons have the potential to be a transformative tool in the next generation of quantum applications.

Within the Minerva Fast-Track Fellowship, the research interests of Wenhui and her team will focus on (1) discovery of the chiral structure-CISS effect relationship; A series of novel chiral nanocarbons will be synthesized as the molecular platform and their individual spin polarization will be discovered where we will gain valuable insights of how the chiral structure will affect the CISS effect. As a result, design principle of chiral nanocarbons for the CISS effect will be established aiming to achieve high spin polarization. (2) Development of chiral spintronics based on helical carbon nanostructures; Based on CISS effect, the chiral spintronics devices can control the overall electrical resistance by applying magnetic field to manipulate the electron’s spin and spin polarized current. Utilizing chiral molecules with high spin polarization, one highly interesting target is developing the high-performance chiral spintronics with large spin polarized current and good spin current manipulation. (3) Exploitation of Spin-controlled chemistry; For chiral molecules, the electron spin is strongly coupled to the molecular frame. Therefore, electron transfer and electron rearrangement of chiral reactants (and intermediates) might be affected during the reaction based on CISS effect, which can be used to provide spin control over chemical reactions, enabling to control the reaction path and achieve enantioselective synthesis.

Dr. Wenhui Niu comes from Liaoning, China. She studied polymer engineering at Sichuan University and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in 2016. From 2016, she started her PhD in chemistry from Shanghai Jiao Tong University under the supervision of Prof. Yiyong Mai. Between 2017 and 2020, she joined Prof. Xinliang Feng’s group as an exchange PhD student. In 2021, she received her PhD degree and joined the group of Prof. Xinliang Feng and continued her academic research as a postdoctoral fellow at Technische Universität Dresden for one year. After that, she joined the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics as a research group leader, where she focuses on the exploitation of novel chiral nanographenes with excellent chiroptical properties and distinct spin polarizability. Since January 2024, Wenhui is leading the “Quantum Chiral Nanocarbons” group as Minerva Fast-Track fellow.

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