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Vivian Wing-Wah Yam

Philip Wong Wilson Wong Professor in Chemistry and Energy and Chair Professor of Chemistry, The University of Hong Kong, China
Place of birth: Hong Kong

Educational background: PhD and BSc Chemistry, The University of Hong Kong, China

Vivian Wing-Wah Yam

Who or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
I have always been amazed by the wonders of science and nature. I like to look at and analyze things in an objective manner. I have always been fascinated by chemistry. Chemistry is a science of great creativity. Chemistry has the ability to create new molecules, the ability to understand and to manipulate
molecules. Chemistry is also a central science. We can work at the interface of chemistry, physics, and engineering to develop new materials and tackle energy- and environmental-related problems. We can also work at the interface of chemistry, biology, and medicine to develop new drugs and diagnostics for biomedical applications.

Primary responsibilities of your current job
My research team focuses on new classes of photoactive materials based on organometallics with new properties by combining components associating metal atoms and organic molecules that absorb or emit light. Depending on the type of metal at the core of the complex and the nature of the surrounding organic molecule, photoactive materials can  absorb and emit light at a range of different wavelengths and effficiencies. The discovery of new classes of photoactive materials with tunable absorption and emission colors, excited-state and redox properties and their fundamental
spectroscopic study lays the foundation for development of new classes of solar-energy storage materials for organic photovoltaics and solar fuels, as well as phosphorescent materials for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays and white organic light-emitting diode (WOLED) solid-state lighting that are relevant to energy research.

Biggest obstacle or challenge that you have faced in your career
The energy issue we face today requires the combined and concerted efforts of chemists, physicists, and engineers. As Hong Kong's scientific community is rather small, a broad coverage of diverse expertise is not always possible. One way for us to contribute and work at the interface of chemistry, physics, and engineering in developing materials and in tackling energy-related problems is through collaboration with international, as well as national and local, research groups. By bringing together multiinstitutional efforts and multidisciplinary expertise, our work will improve the well-being of mankind and the world.