Distinguished Scientists Awarded Croucher Fellowship

Two distinguished scientists from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology are today (Wednesday) awarded Croucher Senior Research Fellowships for their breakthrough research in advanced materials and nano-technology.

Prof Ben Zhong Tang, Professor of Chemistry, and Prof Zikang Tang, Professor of Physics, are among the eight scholars to receive this year's Croucher Senior Research Fellowship Awards.

Prof Ben Zhong Tang's research focuses on advanced materials based on new molecules and macromolecules constructed from acetylenic triple-bond building blocks. His findings on the structural design of the building blocks, the development of new polymerization reactions and robust polymerization catalysts are the key to making molecules technologically useful as specialty materials.

His research work not only contributed to basic research but is also directly related to the development of new plastics with advanced materials properties for industrial application. In particular, the research on the luminescent and photoresponsive molecules has strong potentials of developing into new materials for industrial use.

Prof Tang has published over 200 research papers and his findings have been widely cited by the peers for 2700 times. He was listed as one of the most cited chemists and materials scientists by the Institute for Scientific Information. He was also awarded the Distinguished Young Scholar Award by the National Science Foundation in 2002.

"The motivation behind my work is my passion for research. I have been devoting much of my time, energy and efforts to my research work for many years," Prof Tang shared his secrets of success.

Prof Tang received his PhD from Kyoto University in 1988. Before joining HKUST as an Assistant Professor in 1994, he did postdoctoral work at the University of Toronto and research work for the Central Research Laboratories of Neos Co. Ltd.

The other Croucher Fellowship recipient, Prof Zikang Tang, along with his colleagues, succeeded in 2000 in fabricating the single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) measuring only 0.4 nm in diameter, or 75,000 times narrower than a single human hair, representing a theoretical limit for the size of single-walled carbon nanotubes. They also achieved what previous research has failed-in producing nanotubes that are highly aligned and uniform in size. The discovery of the carbon nanotubes exhibiting superconductivity below 15 degree K (i.e. minus 258 degree C) came after the record breaking success in the following year.

The discoveries were highly recognized by top scientific journals and widely covered by the media for their significance in paving the way for exploration of carbon nanotubes' optical and electrical properties, as well as opening up tremendous prospects for nanotube applications. In 2003, Prof Tang was honored with the Second Prize of State Natural Science Award for discovering room-temperature UV lasing based on high-quality nano-structured ZnO semiconductors. In 2004, he was awarded the Outstanding Overseas Chinese Young Scholar and appointed as Overseas Expert Assessor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"The motivation of our research is to shed light on unexplored area of nano science, and to explore new properties and functions of the novel electronic systems for nano technology applications." He said.

The Croucher Fellowship recipients with Prof Chen Ning YANG Prof Tang earned his PhD at Tohoku University in 1992. He was previously a Post Doctor Fellow at the Physical and Chemical Research Institute (RIKEN) in Japan. He joined HKUST as an Assistant Professor in 1994.

Prof Chen Ning Yang, Nobel Laureate in Physics, presented the award certificates to the Fellows at a ceremony held by the Croucher Foundation today (28 March 2007).

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Prof Ben Zhong TANG
Prof Zikang TANG receives the Croucher Foundation Senior Research Fellowship Award Certificate from Prof Chen Ning YANG at a ceremony today.
The Croucher Fellowship recipients with Prof Chen Ning YANG