China / Innovation

Scientist hailed for work in nanotech

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-26 08:31

Chinese-American physicist Wang Zhonglin has been recognized as one of the 2015 Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates, an annual list of researchers with the highest potential to win a Nobel Prize, Thomson Reuters said on its website on Thursday.

Having a good track record of forecasting Nobel Prize winners since it was launched in 2002, the Citation Laureates identifies the most influential researchers in the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine and economics by analyzing a researcher's academic publications and citations in the past 30 years, and evaluating their contributions to cutting-edge research.

Wang, 54, is the only ethnic Chinese among the 18 candidates this year. Previously, four ethnic Chinese have been listed.

"The Citation Laureates represents international recognition of our study on nanotechnology in the past 30 years. My highest aspiration is that our inventions can promote the progress of science and technology, so we will turn our good wishes for that into day-to-day action in the future," said Wang when asked abou this expectations of a Nobel Prize.

A prestigious physicist in the area of nanoscience, which studies extremely small structures, Wang has published 1,050 academic papers in international journals over the past three decades that have been cited more than 85,000 times.

Wang is a distinguished professor at Georgia Tech. He started cooperating with a number of research institutes in China in 1992, and took the post of director and chief scientist at Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems in late 2011.

Wang's team developed the first piezoelectric nanogenerator in 2006, and the first triboelectric generator in 2012. The very tiny generators use mechanical stress or friction to produce energy.

His research is expected to produce self-powering systems for a wide range of devices from implantable medical devices and mobile phones to large-scale energy.

There are now around 1,000 researchers in various countries engaged in nanogenerator research.

"Triboelectricity (for example, static electricity) presents a new opportunity for energy generation. Triboelectric research has been around for a long time. Wang's method over-comes many of the challenges experienced by the earlier researchers in making the phenomenon practical for power generation," said Thomas Thundat, a researcher from the University of Alberta in Canada.

Zhu Guang, a former student of Wang's and now a research team leader at the institute, said nanoenergy is a new research field that attracts young talent.

"The combination of nanoscience and energy studies will reach a 'one plus one is greater than two' result," he said.

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