Meet Professor Can Li, Editor-in-Chief of Artificial Photosynthesis

Katy Roberts
  • 7 min read

Learn more about Prof. Li, his research, and his vision for the journal's future.

Professor Can Li, Editor-in-Chief of Artificial Photosynthesis

ACS Publications is pleased to welcome Professor Can Li, Ph.D., as the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of Artificial Photosynthesis, a new open-access partner journal between the American Chemical Society (ACS) and Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Westlake University.

Prof. Can Li is a chair professor at Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). He is also the director of Fundamental Research Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (FRCAP). He received his Ph.D. degree in 1988 in Physical Chemistry from DICP. Currently, he is the president of the Catalysis Society of China, Dean of Materials and Chemical Science School of the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). He has published ~ 600 peer reviewed papers, achieved over ~ 13,000 citations of his work, and been awarded ~ 60 patents. His research efforts are concentrated on artificial photosynthesis for solar fuels and value-added chemicals production via photocatalysis, photoelectrocatalysis, electrocatalysis and the intercrossing of these approaches.

We recently connected with Prof. Li to learn more about him, his research, and his hopes for the future of Artificial Photosynthesis.

What does it mean to you to be the Editor-in-Chief of Artificial Photosynthesis?

Serving as the Editor-in-Chief of Artificial Photosynthesis is both a responsibility and an honor. This important field, at the forefront of the fundamental science, combines various disciplines such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials, and chemical engineering. It plays a vital role in sustainable development and addresses future challenges in energy, the environment, and food security. However, despite its significance, the lack of a dedicated academic journal has been a setback. The launch of Artificial Photosynthesis fills this gap and is committed to providing a specialized and authoritative international platform to publish ground-breaking scientific advances and to drive innovation in the field.

As the Editor-in-Chief, my aim is to work with the Editorial Board, Associate Editors, and the Editorial Advisory Board to establish Artificial Photosynthesis as the leading international journal in this field, serving the research community effectively.

Why is Artificial Photosynthesis open access?

Artificial photosynthesis is a multidisciplinary field of research that requires communication and collaboration between scientists from different fields and disciplines. It is for this reason that Artificial Photosynthesis is open access, to allow for rapid publication and dissemination of the journal’s research. In turn, this allows more people to understand, obtain and implement scientific research results, and thus allow this field of research to thrive. At the same time, I believe open access can be an effective way to strengthen the reputation and awareness of new journals, quickly creating influence in society, which will boost the development of the journal.

What are your goals for Artificial Photosynthesis over the coming years?

Through collaborative efforts, the goal of Artificial Photosynthesis is to publish excellent scientific research and reviews that will have a significant impact on the future development of the field of artificial photosynthesis. The aim is to present cutting-edge research outcomes and original scientific discoveries, propelling the journal to become the authoritative flagship journal in the field and a premier platform for first-class academic research. I hope Artificial Photosynthesis can guide the development of artificial photosynthesis research into deeper and broader research fields, by enhancing our fundamental understanding of artificial photosynthesis and accelerating the practical application of the research.

Why should researchers submit their next manuscript to Artificial Photosynthesis?

Our vision is to establish Artificial Photosynthesis as the leading journal in the field, recognized for its influence, authority, and impact. By submitting their work to the journal, and undergoing our robust, fair peer review process, authors will have the unique opportunity to interact with esteemed editors and reviewers who specialize in the field. This interaction will broaden their academic perspectives and enhance their cognitive abilities and research standards.

In addition, with the support of ACS's exceptional submission and review system and dedicated editorial staff, we will ensure a streamlined and efficient publication journey, from submission, to review, to publication. We enthusiastically encourage and warmly welcome researchers to publish their significant research findings in Artificial Photosynthesis.

Artificial Photosynthesis is open for submissions.

As Editor-in-Chief of Artificial Photosynthesis, what are you looking for in a paper?

I eagerly look forward to receiving papers that detail the emergence of pioneering scientific findings, showcase revolutionary research methodologies, and provide effective solutions to crucial scientific challenges and substantial advances in the underlying science of artificial photosynthesis. Furthermore, I am keen to receive work which seeks to correct any preexisting misconceptions, thorough systematic reviews, and future perspectives that shed light on the field of artificial photosynthesis. Equally encouraged are papers that examine and explore the engineering applications that result from the integration of artificial photosynthesis technology. In short, I yearn for the continued proliferation of novel materials, innovative methodologies, strategic approaches, and groundbreaking theories that foster progressive advancements within the field of artificial photosynthesis.

What excites you about the field of artificial photosynthesis?

Driven by the curiosity sparked by natural photosynthesis, I have been obsessed with the study of artificial photosynthesis for many years. My aspiration is to unlock the secrets behind the efficient conversion and storage of matter and energy in natural photosynthesis. By emulating nature's principles and constructing artificial photosynthetic systems, I am hugely excited by the potential here to address the sustainability challenges facing human society in energy and food production.

What advice would you give to young scientists researchers in the field?

Artificial photosynthesis, and it’s advancement, is a significant scientific pursuit for mankind, encompassing numerous enigmatic problems that warrant the dedication of young scientists. Rather than conforming to popular study topics, my advice to young scientists is to embrace fearless thinking and innovation. By courageously tackling critical scientific inquiries, we pave the way for truly valuable and profound research that will lead to a deeper understanding and resolution of pivotal challenges in the field.

Where do you see developments in artificial photosynthesis going in the next decade?

I am confident that solar fuel will soon become a viable alternative to traditional energy sources. The widespread use of solar fuel will fundamentally change our current reliance on fossil resources within the energy and chemical sectors. Consequently, it will be instrumental in addressing three major challenges we face today: ensuring energy security, protecting the environment, and promoting sustainable socioeconomic and ecological development. In the long term, an important part of artificial photosynthesis research will involve synthetic biology: harnessing solar energy to convert water, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other molecules into essential goods such as food and medicine, to solve pressing issues like food shortages and provide sustainable solutions to other global challenges.

How do you see the journal and the community working together to address challenges and seize opportunities in the field?

The primary goal of Artificial Photosynthesis is to serve the community by publishing exceptional research articles. I hope that scientists in the field of artificial photosynthesis can fully utilize this new academic platform, publish cutting-edge original research articles and reviews, and engage in high-level academic exchanges and meaningful international collaborations.

As an Editorial Board, we are dedicated to fostering interdisciplinary collaborations across various fields. For instance, by encouraging collaboration between scientists in artificial photosynthesis and natural photosynthesis, we aim to address major scientific challenges like light harvesting, charge separation, and catalytic mechanisms in water oxidation, leading to significant progress.

Artificial Photosynthesis upholds the same rigorous academic standards and robust peer review processes for all submissions as the rest of the ACS journal portfolio. We do this by engaging experts in the peer review, revision, and publication processes.

Artificial Photosynthesis is now open for submissions with APCs waived for papers accepted after peer review until December 2027.

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