Chemistry Researcher Wins Major Award for New Discoveries in Nanotechnology

(May 22, 2012 – Thunder Bay, ON)  

The Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) knows a stellar researcher when it sees one.

Lakehead’s Dr. Aicheng Chen has been recognized with the CSC’s Keith Laidler Award for his outstanding contributions to electrochemistry and catalysis. He will travel to Calgary later this week to deliver an award lecture at the 95th Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition.

Dr. Aicheng Chen is a trailblazer in electrochemistry and nanotechnology

The Laidler Award, established in 1963, is one of Canada’s most coveted chemistry prizes and is given to up-and-coming research scientists whose achievements are having a significant impact on the field of physical chemistry. Past recipients have gone on to become chemists of international stature – including a Nobel Prize winner.

As Lakehead’s Canada Research Chair in Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Chen lives and breathes his research. “Even when I was a child I was fascinated by chemistry,” he says.  With over 110 peer-reviewed journal publications, 72 industrial technical reports, six book chapters, and two patents, his passion for chemistry is indisputable.

This is the second award the CSC has bestowed on Chen – he received the Fred Beamish Award in 2009. It’s uncommon for a scientist to be honoured with two CSC awards in such a short space of time, testifying to the pioneering nature of his work.

Chen’s research is remarkable for its breadth and complexity. He is conducting work in the areas of electrochemistry, green chemistry, and materials science. These diverse research concentrations are linked by his investigations into nanotechnology and his desire to translate his work from the theoretical to the practical.

“I’m trying to develop new technologies to address pressures on the environment, dwindling energy resources, and health issues through nanotechnology,” Chen explains.

Nanotechnology involves engineering and manipulating structures at the molecular and atomic level and uses the nanometer (nm) as the basic unit of measurement. Even the microscopic seems huge in this emerging branch of science. One strand of human hair is 50,000 to 80,000 nanometers wide and human hair grows 10 nm every second.

“Nanotechnology is a very hot field around the world but my focus is developing nanostructured catalysts for the innovative and sustainable development of natural resources,” Chen says. “Canada is very fortunate with its abundant natural resources.”  

He is using nanomaterials to develop water purification treatments, to convert lignin (a component of wood) into value-added chemicals, to create photocatalysts that facilitate solar energy production, and to create new classes of gas sensors. These sensors can detect ethanol and carbon monoxide and are key to developing fuel cell technology and sustainable energy. His research also extends to fighting and treating diabetes with his invention of a new generation of glucose sensors.

Since joining Lakehead in 2002, Chen has raised the University’s profile through his innovative approach to chemistry. He has established a cutting-edge electrochemistry lab and attracted some of the brightest national and international graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to his research team.

“Chemistry plays a very important role in everyday life,” Chen says. “My team’s goal is to discover and apply new technologies so that people all over the world can benefit from our work.”

Lakehead University is proud of Dr. Aicheng Chen’s commitment and vision, and congratulates him on this latest milestone in his research career.

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For more information please contact Tracey Skehan, Communications Officer, at 807-343-8372 or

About Lakehead
Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for a multidisciplinary teaching approach that emphasizes collaborative learning and independent critical thinking. Over 8,280 students and 2,000 faculty and staff learn and work at campuses located in Orillia, and Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Lakehead University promotes innovative research that supports local and regional socio-economic needs. In Orillia, development continues on building a campus that meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) standards.

Last updated June 04, 2012

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