Zhenwei Wu

Graduate Research Assistant

Advised by Professor Jeffrey T. Miller

Professional Networks



Tsinghua University, B.S. Materials Science and Engineering (2014)
    Thesis: "Evolution of Cu Species in Cu-SAPO-34 Molecular Sieve Catalysts Prepared by Impregnation-Activation"
Purdue University, Ph.D. Chemical Engineering (2014 - present)
    Thesis: "The Structure-Function Relationship of Intermetallic Compound Catalysts for Light Alkane Dehydrogenation"


  • Ecomaterials Research Group, School of Materials Science and Engineering (Feb 2013 - Jun 2014)
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Institute for Integrated Catalysis, Research Intern (Summer 2013)

About Me

I am from Guixi, a small town in Jiangxi province in southern China. In my town, there is a tourist attraction called Longhu Mountain, which is of historic interest and considered to be the origin of Taoism. I received my B.S. in materials science and engineering at Tsinghua University. I joined Purdue ChE in 2014 and became one of the first students in Professor Miller’s group. In my spare time, I enjoy playing volleyball, hiking with friends and music.

Project Description

My thesis project focuses on intermetallic compound catalysts for propane dehydrogenation (PDH). PDH is a key processing step in exploitation of shale gas, the fastest growing source of gas in the country. Monometallic noble metal catalysts including Pt and Pd nanoparticles exhibit poor selectivity for PDH. We find high dehydrogenation selectivity when Pt and Pd form intermetallic compounds with a second metal constituent. The ordered array of two different atom types over specific crystallographic sites characteristic of intermetallic compounds is in contrast to alloys where the metal atoms randomly substitute in solid solution and often offers greatly altered catalytic selectivity, stability and activity. I develop new in situ synchrotron X-ray diffraction, difference X-ray absorption, and resonant inelastic X-ray scattering method to study the detailed crystal structures and d band levels of supported 2 nm intermetallic nanoparticle catalysts, which enables well-defined structure-function relationship for dehydrogenation reaction.


  • In situ synchrotron X-ray techniques including X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS), X-ray Powder Diffraction (XRD) and Resonant Inelastic X-ray Scattering (RIXS)
    (30+ trips to 4 different beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Lab)
  • Synthesis of supported multimetallic nanoparticle and zeolite/molecular sieve catalysts
  • Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Ultraviolet-visible Spectroscopy (UV-vis)
  • Reaction kinetics, Physisorption and Chemisorption, Temperature-Programmed Analysis


  • Richard J. Kokes Travel Award, North American Catalysis Society (Feb 2017)
  • Roland Family Graduate Education Endowment Travel Grant, Purdue University (Feb 2017)
  • Outstanding Graduate, Tsinghua University (Jun 2014)
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Thesis, School of MSE, Tsinghua University (Jun 2014)
  • DuPont Scholarship, Tsinghua University (Oct 2013)
  • Three Star Volunteer, Tsinghua University (Oct 2012)
  • National Scholarship, Tsinghua University (1/79 in the school of MSE) (Oct 2011)


Conference Presentations

  • Z. Wu, E. C. Wegener, H-T Tseng, Z. Ma, V. J. Cybulskis, B. C. Bukowski, J. R. Gallagher, A. J. Kropf, F. W. Ribeiro, J. Greeley, J. T. Miller. “Intermetallic Alloy Catalysts for Light Alkane Dehydrogenation”, Poster Presentation at SUNCAT Summer Institute, 2017, Stanford, CA
  • Z. Wu, E. C. Wegener, H-T. Tseng, J. R. Gallagher, J. W. Harris, R. E. Diaz, Y. Ren, F. H. Ribeiro, J. T. Miller. “The Structure-Function Relationship of Pd-In intermetallic alloy catalysts for light alkane dehydrogenation”, Oral Presentation at North American Catalysis Society Meeting, 2017, Denver, CO
  • Z. Wu, E. C. Wegener, H-T. Tseng, J. R. Gallagher, J. W. Harris, R. E. Diaz, Y. Ren, F. H. Ribeiro, J. T. Miller. “Pd-In intermetallic alloy nanoparticles as highly selective ethane dehydrogenation catalysts”, Oral Presentation at Chicago Catalysis Club Annual Symposium 2016, Chicago, IL