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GCEP Visiting Scholar - Professor Enge Wang
Enge Wang
> Seminar held January 30, 2009

GCEP has established a small program to support faculty who are interested in spending sabbatical leave at Stanford University. The program is designed to encourage scientists and engineers who would like to expand their research interests to include energy-related topics through collaboration with GCEP Principal Investigators. Professor Enge Wang, Co-Director of Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics, was selected by GCEP as the first participant for the program.

Wang’s current research focuses on surface physics in which he uses a combination of atomistic simulation and experimental techniques to study nonequilibrium growth, chemical vapor deposition of light-element nanomaterials, and water behavior in confined systems.

Wang received his Ph.D. in physics from Peking University in 1990. He spent one year at Laboratoire d’Etude des Surface at Interfaces (France) and four years at the University of Houston as a postdoc and research staff member. In 1995, he joined the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) as a professor, where he was the director from 1999-2007. He is currently also the General Secretary at CAS.

With six patents to his name, Wang has co-authored 240 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and has given more than 60 invited talks at international conferences. He has also received numerous awards including the Humboldt Research Award (Germany), the TWAS Award in Physics (Italy), and the IBM Faculty Award (USA).

Through March 2009, Wang is a visiting professor in the department of Applied Physics at Stanford University as part of the GCEP sabbatical program. He took some time out to answer a few questions for GCEP.

  • What motivated you to apply for the GCEP sabbatical program?
    The mission of GCEP and the stimulating environment of Stanford University were what attracted me to this program.

  • What types of collaborations are you interested in at Stanford University?
    I would like to pursue topics related to renewable energy and have already started to discuss possible collaborations with several Stanford professors since arriving here. I look forward to the opportunity to combine the strengths of our two parties.

  • What do you hope to gain from this experience?
    I hope to develop contacts and engage in long-term research collaborations with Stanford faculty.

  • What are your research plans in the energy area following this sabbatical?
    I have an open mind on this. Based on my research background, I would like to search for new materials, experimentally and theoretically, that have the potential to impact the areas of energy generation and energy storage.

  • How could your research help reduce greenhouse gas emissions ­especially in China?
    Solutions to this global challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions require a global effort. This is an important contemporary topic among Chinese people. I hope my experience with GCEP at Stanford will be helpful in someway to China and the world.

  • Why do you feel developing new technologies is so important to future energy consumption?
    Growing energy consumption accompanied by population growth, higher standards of living, and the limited supply of fossil fuels combine together to create a serious challenge to all of us. The development of new and innovative renewable energy technologies, as well as a rapid scale-up of these technologies, are the key to filling the gap of the world’s energy needs.

  • What new research or technologies in the energy sector intrigue you?
    I would say the knowledge of energy generation and energy storage down to atomic scale.

  • How have you benefited in expanding your research interests to include energy-related topics from the GCEP sabbatical program?
    As someone who had not worked on an energy-related project before, I take my role as a GCEP visiting scholar as both a challenge and learning opportunity. Through my discussions with GCEP principal investigators, it has become clear to me that my knowledge in basic physics research (for example, in the areas of the formation and decay mechanisms of surface-based nanostructures and the molecular picture of water-surface interactions) is very important in the study of renewable energy. The GCEP sabbatical program allows me to enrich my research experience.

  • What has been most enlightening about your time at Stanford so far?
    I have been very impressed by how the GCEP sabbatical program allows me to be so unexpectedly efficient in focusing on my research at Stanford. Back at home, there are always a lot of things besides research to do – meetings, endless reviews, and so on. Here I am totally focused, with the exception of about an hour a day that I spend on activities related to my home institution, so I have more time to concentrate on my research interests.

    Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my hosts at GCEP and in the department of Applied Physics at Stanford for their hospitality.


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