Zhiping Lai

Principal Investigator




Office 4218, Building 4

Contact Information:

Office: +966-12-808-2408

E-mail: Zhiping.lai@kaust.edu.sa

Research Interests

Dr. Lai’s research interests mainly focus on synthesis, characterization, and applications of inorganic membranes with ordered porous structures, such as zeolites, mesoporous silica or carbon, metal-organic frameworks, etc. The aim of his research is to understand the membrane formation and separation mechanisms in order to develop novel synthesis strategies to fabricate high performance membrane systems. The applications of these membranes are targeted on gas separations, hydrocarbon mixture separations, membrane reactors, wastewater treatment, and recovery of industrial organic solvents.
Dr. Lai is also interested in coupling of inorganic and polymeric materials to develop novel mixed matrix membranes. Another area of his interests is synthesis of porous materials into nanostructures such as core-shell nanostructure and study their potential applications such as drug deliveries and micro-membrane reactors

Selected Publications

  • Lai, Z. P. Development of ZIF-8 Membranes: Opportunities and Challenges for Commercial Applications. Curr. Opin. Chem. Eng. 2018, 20, 78-85.
  • Wei, R.; Chi, H.-Y.; Li, X.; Lu, D.; Wan, Y.; Yang, C.-W.; Lai, Z., Aqueously Cathodic Deposition of ZIF-8 Membranes for Superior Propylene/Propane Separation. Adv. Funct. Mater. 2020, 30 (7), 1907089.
  • Shinde, D. B.; Cao, L.; Dinga Wonanke, A. D.; Li, X.; Kumar, S.; Liu, X.; Hedhili, M. N.; Emwas, A.-H.; Addicoat, M.; Huang, K.-W.; Lai, Z., Pore Engineering of Ultrathin Covalent Organic Framework Membranes for Organic Solvent Nanofiltration and Molecular Sieving. Chem. Sci. 2020, 11, 5434-5440.
  • Guo, D.; Li, X.; Ming, F.; Zhou, Z.; Liu, H.; Hedhili, M. N.; Tung, V.; Alshareef, H. N.; Li, Y.; Lai, Z., Electropolymerization growth of an ultrathin, compact, conductive and microporous (UCCM) polycarbazole membrane for high energy Li–S batteries. Nano Energy 2020, 73, 104769.
  • Shinde, D. B.; Sheng, G.; Li, X.; Ostwal, M. M.; Emwas, A.-H.; Huang, K.-W.; Lai, Z., Crystalline 2D Covalent Organic Framework Membranes for High-Flux Organic Solvent Nanofiltration. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140 (43), 14342-14349.
  • Chen, W.; Chen, S.; Liang, T.; Zhang, Q.; Fan, Z.; Yin, H.; Huang, K.-W.; Zhang, X.; Lai, Z.; Sheng, P., High-Flux Water Desalination with Interfacial Salt Sieving Effect in Nanoporous Carbon Composite Membranes. Nat. Nanotechnol. 2018, 13, 345-350.
  • Wang, X.; Liu, Y.; Ma, X.; Das, S. K.; Ostwal, M. M.; Gadwal, I.; Yao, K.; Dong, X.; Han, Y.; Pinnau, I.; Huang, K.-W.; Lai, Z., Soluble Polymers with Intrinsic Porosity for Flue Gas Purification and Natural Gas Upgrading. Adv. Mater. 2017, 29 (10), 1605826.
  • Pan, Y.; Lai, Z., Sharp Separation of C2/C3 Hydrocarbon Mixtures by Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework-8 (ZIF-8) Membranes Synthesized in Aqueous Solutions. Chem. Commun. 2011, 47, 10275-10277.
  • Liu, Y.; Ng, Z.; Khan, E. A.; Jeong, H.-K.; Ching, C.-B.; Lai, Z., Synthesis of Continuous MOF-5 Membrane on Porous Alpha-Alumina Substrates. Micropor. Mesopor. Mater. 2009, 118, 296-301.
  • Lai, Z.; Bonilla, G.; Diaz, I.; Nery, J. G.; Sujaoti, K.; Amat, M. A.; Kokkoli, E.; Terasaki, O.; Thompson, R. W.; Tsapatsis, M.; Vlachos, D. G., Microstructural Optimization of A Zeolite Membrane for Organic Vapor Separation. Science 2003, 300 (5618), 456-460.


  • Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, United States, 2003
  • MSc, Tsinghua University, P.R. China, 1998
  • BE, Tsinghua University, P.R. China, 1995

Professional Profile

  • Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, KAUST, 2009-
  • Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, KAUST, 2013 – 2019
  • Assistant Professor, Chemcial and Biological Engineering, KAUST, 2009 – 2013
  • Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 2005 – 2009
  • Research Associate, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, USA, 2003 – 2005

Scientific and Professional Membership

  • Saudi Chemistry Society
  • American Chemistry Society
  • AIChE

KAUST Affiliations

  • Degree of Chemical Engineering
  • Advanced Membranes and Porous Materials Center

Research Interests Keywords

Membrane Separations Membrane Reactor Lithium Sulfur Battery Zeolites Metal Organic Framework Covalent Organic Framework Osmotic Heat Engine Ioinc Liquids Nanofiltration Ultrafiltration