Xiaodong Zou_2

Xiaodong Zou


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Works at Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry
Telephone 08-16 23 89
Visiting address Svante Arrhenius väg 16 C
Room C 541
Postal address Institutionen för material- och miljökemi 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Xiaodong Zou is a full professor and chair of the Inorganic and Structural Chemistry Unit and deputy head of the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Physics 1984 at Peking University and Master of Science in Metal Physics 1986 at Beijing University of Technology, under the supervision of Prof. K.H. Kuo. In 1987 she moved to Sweden to pursue her Ph.D. study and received her PhD in structural chemistry at Stockholm University in 1995. She carried out her postdoctoral research at Lund University, working with the Tage Erlander Professor David R. Veblen from John Hopkins University, USA. She joined the faculty at Stockholm University in 1996 and became professor 2005.

One of her main research interests is method development for accurate atomic structure determination of nano-sized crystals by electron crystallography. Her group has solved a number of complex structures of zeolites and mesoporous crystals by transmission electron microscopy. She is also working on synthesis, structure determination, topology analysis and applications of inorganic open-framework materials and metal-organic frameworks. In 2006, she received 100 MSEK from VR and VINNOVA to build up the Berzelii Center EXSELENT on Porous Materials and was the director 2006-2012. She has > 300 publications and five patents. Her group developed 10 software for quantitative analysis of high-resolution electron microscopy images and electron diffraction patterns. The software has been commecialized and used by > 200 laboratories.

She received several awards including Tage Erlander Prize for Science and Technology 2002 and Göran Gustafsson Prize in Chemistry 2008, both given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the K.H. Kuo Award for Distinguished Scientist 2010 and the Arrhenius medal 2012 given by the Swedish Chemical Society.

She has been recongnised as a Wallenberg Scholar and a Distinquished Professor of the Swedish Research Council.

She is appointed as a co-opted member of the Nobel Committee in Chemistry,  an elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA), member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), Fellow of the Royal Chemical Society (FRCS),  council member of the International Zeolite Association, and member of Structure Commission of International Zeolite Association. 

My group homepage

2. Research

Xiaodong Zou’s research has been development of electron crystallographic methods. Her group has developed several image and diffraction-based methods and software for accurate atomic structure determination of unknown crystals, and solved many complex structures, especially porous materials such as zeolites and metal-organic frameworks. She is also an expert in porous materials and has been working on design, synthesis and applications of novel porous materials. Recently her research interests have been extended in developing electron crystallographic methods for structure determination of protein crystals.

3. On-going projects

Xiaodong Zou’s research projects cover several research topics, including Electron crystallography and advanced TEM, X-ray and neutron crystallography, Materials for energy, Materials for health. They are summarized below. 

Electron crystallography and analytical TEM

Revealing atomic structures, charge states and molecular interactions in macromolecules by microcrystal electron diffraction. Swedish Research Council (VR), 2020-2030.

Knowing the 3D atomic structures, charge states and protein-ligand interactions is crucial for understanding the functions of macromolecules and chemical processes in biological systems, as well as for modern drug design. This project aims at developing new methods based on electron diffraction (ED) to push the limits of current structure determination methods. We will develop

  • novel approaches for EM sample preparation
  • new strategies and techniques for data collection on both microcrystals and single macromolecules
  • and new approaches for phasing single particle ED data

By applying the new methods, we will obtain

  • accurate structure determination of macromolecules from nano/micron-sized crystals
  • 3D structures of single macromolecules
  • structure and charge states of metals and amino acids in proteins and catalytic intermediates

To accomplish this we will create a strong environment with excellence in electron crystallography, protein crystallography, and biochemistry for the project. We will make ED as fast, feasible and accurate as X-ray crystallography. We will build an Electron Crystallography platform to spread the knowledge and techniques worldwide. We expect the project to open new opportunities and significantly strengthen the research in structural biology. 

Electron crystallographic methods to probe 3D atomic structures and charge states in macromolecules. Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (Wallenberg Scholars), 2020-2024.

Knowing the 3D atomic structures is crucial for understanding the functions of biological macromolecules. Many proteins are involved in redox processes and charge-transfer reactions, which are performed by accommodating different electronic and charged states. Obtaining both the geometric structure and charge states is thus central to understanding the chemical processes and mechanisms in biological systems. X-ray diffraction is presently the most important technique for determination of geometric structures of macromolecules but it requires large crystals and cannot determine the charge states. With the grant as a Wallenberg scholar, I want to develop new crystallographic methods based on electron diffraction, to determine both the geometric structure and the charge state of biological macromolecules. I will 1) develop new methods for accurate structure determination of macromolecules from crystals too small to be studied by X-ray diffraction; 2) determine 3D atomic structures and metal charge states in proteins and catalytic intermediates; 3) develop serial electron diffraction and high-throughput electron crystallography for studying protein-ligand interactions. My ambition is to make electron diffraction as fast, feasible and accurate as X-ray diffraction. To accomplish this I will create an environment with excellence in electron crystallography, method development, protein crystallography and biochemistry. Together we will utilize model systems to explore the power of electron diffraction. We expect electron diffraction to become a crucially important technique in life science both within and outside Sweden. We will make the methods available to the Swedish research community. Together with the Cryo-EM facilities at SciLifeLab, the new X-ray synchrotron source at MAX IV and the neutron source at ESS, we will promote Sweden’s leading position in structural biology. 

Members: Hongyi (Justin) Xu, Jingjing Zhao, Max Clabber, Viktor Bengtsson, Molly Lightowler

Nanoporous materials: from synthesis and structure to catalysis; Subproject:  Accurate atomic structures from nano- and micrometer-sized crystals by electron crystallography Swedish Research Council (VR), 2017-2022.

This is part of my VR project that aims at developing new strategies and methods for data collection using continuous rotation electron diffraction (cRED), and makeing the structure determination as fast, feasible and accurate as by X-ray crystallography. The new methods will be applied on various zeolites and metal-organic frameworks. We aim to locate hydrogen atoms and determine the oxidation states of atoms, which are not achievable by X-ray diffraction.  

Structure characterization of nanoporous materials ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Co. 2017-2021.

X-ray and neutron crystallography

Nanoporous materials: from synthesis and structure to catalysis; Subproject: Fundamental understanding of reaction mechanisms in organic transformations using porous materials as catalyst supports. Swedish Research Council (VR), 2017-2022.

This is part of my VR project that aims at developing synchrotron-based in-situ/operando powder X-ray diffraction and X-ray absorption spectroscopy to identify active catalytic species during organic synthesis using a custom-built in-situ reactor. We will gain new insights on the reaction mechanisms and use them to improve the catalysts and optimize the catalytic reactions. We will introduce synchrotron-based in-situ/operando techniques to the organic chemistry community for developing new catalysts for organic synthesis.

Materials for energy

Nanoporous materials: from synthesis and structure to catalysis; Subproject: Rational design and synthesis of novel zeolites The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet, VR), 2017-2022.

This is part of my VR project that aims at developing new approaches for rational design and synthesis of novel zeolites based on common structural features. This will revolutionize the zeolite synthesis from current trial-and-error to targeted synthesis.

Catalytic Composites for Sustainable Synthesis (CATSS); Subproject: Characterization, modeling and understanding of the catalytic materials Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW), 2017-2022.

The aim of this project is to develop novel multifunctional catalytic composites that use two of the most abundant and sustainable feedstocks, carbon dioxide and water, for organic synthesis. The composites first transform these resources into H2 or CO, which then react in situ with organic raw materials, transforming them into high-value organic compounds. To achieve this, we will combine two catalytic materials that work in concert, one electrocatalyst (e-Cat) and one product-forming catalyst (p-Cat) (Fig. 1). Their cooperation is made possible by immobilization of active metals in different supporting materials, allowing them to simultaneously work despite their different nature. With this strategy, handling of high-risk gaseous reagents is completely surpassed. With our combined expertise on synthesizing new materials, developing new techniques for their functionalization, advanced characterization methods, and new catalytic methodologies, we will contribute to positioning Sweden at the forefront of catalysis, and through innovation provide advances towards a sustainable society.

The project team consists of Prof. Belén Martín-Matute (main PI), Prof. Pher G. Andersson, and Prof. Jan-Erling Bäckvall from Department of Organic Chemistry, SU, Prof. Xiaodong Zou and Dr. Andrew Kentaro Inge from Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, SU, and Prof. Lichen Sun and Assoc. Prof. Mårten Ahlquist from KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Figure 1. Composite formed by an electrocatalyst (e-Cat), for the production of hydrogen from water or carbon monoxide from carbon dioxide, and by a product-forming catalyst (p-Cat) that reacts them with organic raw materials to give high-value products.

In the subproject, we will study the catalytic components and the reaction kinetics of the catalysts in action by applying diffraction, spectroscopy, electron microscopy techniques as well as computational methods, and by developing in situ synchrotron-based diffraction and X-ray absorption spectroscopy techniques. This will lead to an understanding of the structure and activity of the catalysts and of surface-modified materials, which is crucial for developing improved composites.

Materials for health

Access to potent medical drugs (APIs) through crystallization enabled by ionic liquids (ILs); Subproject: Crystallization from ILs – Techniques and Process Monitoring Tools. Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW) 2020-2024. About the project in Swedish

Access to potent medical drugs through polymorph-specific crystallization enabled by ionic liquids: Ensuring good health and well-being (SDG3) requires efficient drugs for the treatment of diseases. A critical step in drug development is its formulation, which involves bringing the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) to the solid form. Most APIs are able to adopt different solid forms (polymorphs). Each of the forms has its own bioavailability, hence, effectiveness to act as a drug. For that reason, each new form has to receive regulatory approval, but also can be patented individually. Thus, it is desirable to develop techniques that allow crystallizing the desired form. In this, ionic liquids (ILs) as crystallization media open completely new opportunities. ILs are room temperature molten salts composed of large organic cations and anions which can be structurally varied and endowed with functional groups. Supramolecular interactions between an IL and the API change the free energy barriers of crystallization leading to the preferential crystallization of one polymorph. A thorough understanding about the IL-API interaction in the crystallization process is the key for the designed engineering of an IL for robust and reliable crystallization of the most efficient API form through structural variation of the IL ions. In this effort, our team brings together experts in crystal engineering, organic synthesis, structure analysis and computational modelling. The complementarities and synergies (including SciLifeLab, RISE, MAXIV, Swedish pharma) make it possible to attack a problem, which is too fundamental to be sponsored by industry and too complex to receive sufficiently large funding from basic funding agencies. However, if we can establish knowledge on how ILs can be used in the polymorph-specific crystallization of APIs, we could make a transformative contribution to drug development that will largely contribute societal welfare.

The project team consists of Prof. Anja-Verena Mudring (main PI), Prof. Dr. Matias Edén, Prof. Alexander Lyubartsev, and Prof. Xiaodong Zou from department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, SU and Prof. Belén Martín-Matute from Department of Organic Chemistry, SU.

4. Publications

Recent publications

  1. Bin Wang, Xiaodong Zou, Stef Smeets, Automated serial rotation electron diffraction combined with cluster analysis: an efficient multi-crystal workflow for structure determination, IUCrJ, 2019, 6, 1-14. Link
  2. Hongyi Xu, Hugo Lebrette, Max T.B. Clabbers, Jingjing Zhao, Julia. J. Griese, Xiaodong Zou, Martin Högbom, Solving a new R2Iox protein structure by microcrystal electron diffraction, Sci. Adv. 2019, 5, eaax4621:1-6. Link
  3. Hongyi Xu and Xiaodong Zou, Absolute structure, at the nanoscale, Science 2019, 364, 632-633. Link
  4. Dirk Lenzen, Jingjing Zhao, Sebastian-Johannes Ernst, Mohammad Wahiduzzaman, A. Ken Inge, Dominik Fröhlich, Hans-Jörg Bart, Christof Janiak, Stefan Henninger, Guillaume Maurin, Xiaodong Zou, Norbert Stock, Green synthesis of a novel metal-organic framework for high efficient water-based ultra-low temperature driven cooling, Nat. Communs. 2019, 10:3025. Link
  5. Souvik Roy, Zhehao Huang, Asamanjoy Bhunia, Ashleigh Castner, Arvind K. Gupta, Xiaodong Zou, Sascha Ott, Durable Electrocatalytic Hydrogen Evolution from a Cobaloxime-based Metal-Organic Framework Thin Film, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 15942-15950. Link
  6. Magdalena O. Cichocka; Yi Zhang; Zoltan Bacsik; Sara Bals; Xiaodong Zou; Tom Willhammar; Suk Bong Hong, Phase Transformation Behavior of a Two-Dimensional Zeolite, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2019, 58, 10230-10235. Link  

Full list of publications is available from Diva

5. Research Group members

Current members

Professor emeritus

Sven Hovmöller

Affiliated professor

Junliang Sun


Zhehao Huang

Yi Luo


Post docs

Max Clabbers

Yi Luo

Jian Li

PhD students

Jung Youn Cho (2019)

Meng Ge (2018)

Molly Lightowler (2018)

Laura Samperisi (2018)

Jingjing Zhao (2016)

Viktor Bengtsson (2016)


Master Students

Nicolai Junge Pedersen (2020)

Visiting students and scholars

Min Liu, Dalian University of Technology, China

Pascal Hogan-Lamarre, University of Toronto, Canada

Yinan Wu, Tonji University, China

Collaborators at MMK

Hongyi (Justin) Xu

Zhehao Huang

A Ken Inge

Thomas Thersleff

Tom Willhammar


Former members

PhD students

Tony Conradsson, 2002, Thomas International AB, Stockholm. Liqiu Tang, 2005; Elkem, Norway; Kirsten E. Christensen, 2008, University of Oxford; Daliang Zhang, 2010, Chongqin University, China; Mikaela Gustafsson, 2012, Sandvik Coromant, Sweden; Andrew Kentaro Inge, 2012, MMK, SU; Tom Willhammar 2013, MMK, SU. Yifeng Yun, 2014, BYD Co Ltd, Shenzhen, China; Fabian Carson, 2015, Mycronic AB, Stockholm; Peng Guo, 2016, Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Hani Nasser Abdelhamid, 2017, Assuit University, Egypt; Yunchen Wang, 2017, Sigma Technology, Sweden; Magdalena O. Cichocka, 2019, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. Taimin Yang, 2019, Nordea, Stockholm. Ning Yuan, 2019, Tieto, Stockholm. Bin Wang, 2019, Vironova, Stockholm. Elina Kapaca, 2020, MMK, SU.


Thomas Weirich, 1997-1999. Kai Sun, 1998-2000. Zhimin Mo, 2000.  Guo-Yu Yang, 2001. Mauro Gemmi, 2001-2002. Markus Doeblinger, 2002. Yafeng Li, 2002-2004. Lesya Demchenko, 2005. Hong Zhang, 2004-2005. Tie-zhen Ren, 2005-2006. Lei Shi, 2005-2007. Zhanbing He, 2005-2007. Junliang Sun, 2007-2008. Charlotte Bonneau, 2007-2008. Mingrun Li, 2007-2009. Daniel Grüner, 2009. Huijuan Yue, 2007-2010. Lei Han, 2009-2010. Max Peskov, 2008-2011. Suman Sahoo, 2009-2011. Wei Wan, 2009-2011. Qingxia Yao, 2009-2013. Jie Su, 2010-2014. Ana Eva Pletero Prats, 2012-2014. Devinder Singh, 2012-2014. Changhong Xiao, 2013-2014. Ilich Ibarra, 2013-2014. Yi Zhang, 2013-2015. Changjiu Xia, 2014-2015. Haoquan Zheng, 2012-2016. Jiho Shin, 2015-2016. Diana Bernin, 2015. Hongyi Xu, 2014-2017; Stef Smeets, 2016-2018. Jonas Ångström, 2016-2018. Karl Gustafson, 2018-2019. Jian Li, 2019-2020. Max Clabber, 2018-2020. Zhehao Huang, 2015-2020.  Maria Roslova, 2018-2021.

6. Teaching activities                                                                           

Current teaching:

Advanced transmission electron microscopy, 7.5 ECTS  (KZ8010)

Introduction to analytical electron microscopy, 7.5 ECTS (KZ8009)

Writing Science, 3 ECTs, PhD course

Past teaching:

Porous materials (2007-2010)


Last updated: May 11, 2021

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