A celebrated scholar at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has been presented with the Croucher Senior Research Fellowship 2021 for advancing neutron scattering studies in the scientific community in Hong Kong, and for promoting collaboration at the China Spallation Neutron Source (CSNS) project in Dongguan.
Professor Wang Xunli, Chair Professor of Physics and Head of the Department of Physics, conducts research at the interface of condensed matter physics and materials science. He studies phase transformation and deformation in advanced materials using state-of-the-art neutron and synchrotron scattering techniques, and has significantly contributed to the development of instrumentation for enabling seminal studies.
Professor Wang has been advising on the RMB 2.3 billion CSNS project since its conception. Launched in August 2017, CSNS is the 4th pulsed neutron source in the world. In addition, Professor Wang and his fellow collaborators have been awarded HK$8.65 million in funding from the Collaborative Research Fund to support the construction of the Multi Physics Instrument (MPI) at CSNS. MPI received the first neutron beam early this year, a milestone development in the CSNS project, and preliminary measurements show the neutron spectrum was in line with the design.
As the first total scattering instrument in China, MPI is a partnership between CityU, CSNS and Dongguan Institute of Technology, which is expected to contribute to the establishment of the International Centre for Science and Technology in the Greater Bay Area, according to Professor Wang.
With more than 30 years’ experience in neutron scattering, Professor Wang is excited by the broad scope of applications to be generated by global enthusiasm to build modern neutron facilities.
“A lot of the growth will be in large molecular systems in soft matter science such as polymers and proteins. There will also be expanding applications in quantum materials and in engineering materials,” said Professor Wang, adding that neutron scattering has played a key role in solving many puzzles in materials physics.
Professor Wang has helped cutting-edge neutron scattering technology take root in Hong Kong through the Croucher summer school. In 2014, 2016 and 2018, this week-long programme has attracted students and scientists from universities in Hong Kong, mainland China and top institutions around the globe. The Croucher summer school is scheduled to continue in 2022, after a brief interruption by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Together with the Gordon Research Conference on Neutron Scattering, a high-level scientific conference held on alternate years, Professor Wang and CityU are playing a leading role in promoting related technology to the wider science community.
Professor Wang, who joined CityU in 2012, foresaw that CityU, as a young and energetic university, offered great opportunities for motivated scientists like him aiming to expand the scope of research in physics and materials science.
That CityU has established a joint laboratory with the Chinese Academy of Science on neutron scattering ensures that Professor Wang and his research team will remain at the forefront of the field.
The Croucher Senior Research Fellowship will enable Professor Wang to investigate deformation at ultra-low temperatures, a new regime in which the diminishing atomic mobility and the competition of different crystalline phases enable a rich variety of novel deformation mechanisms, in addition to continuing to build up the neutron scattering community in Hong Kong.