HKUST Physics Expert Honored for Contributions in Materials Physics

Prof Yilong Han, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) was awarded the 2014 Achievement in Asia Award (AAA) for his distinguished contributions in melting transition, glass transition and the observation of geometrical frustration through creative experiments in colloidal dynamics. The award was shared by Prof Han and Prof Wang Yao, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Hong Kong.

Presented by the International Organization of Chinese Physicists and Astronomers (OCPA), the annual award acknowledges only one or two Chinese scientists below 50 years of age and working in Asia for their outstanding achievements in the field of physics and astronomy. Prof Han will receive his award at the meeting of the American Physics Society in March 2015.

It is the third time for HKUST’s Department of Physics to receive the award. Prof Che-ting Chan, Chair Professor in the Department of Physics, and Prof Ning Wang, Professor in the Department of Physics, were honored in 2000 and 2006 respectively. “I am deeply grateful to be honored with this prestigious award. I hope the crucial experimental inputs will help lead to breakthroughs with great impact in the field of materials physics in the foreseeable future,” Prof Han said.

Prof Han has been devoted to fundamental research in materials physics for 10 years. The particle kinetics in common materials are difficult to measure because individual atoms or molecules are too small, too quick and difficult to observe in bulk. With his research team, Prof Han has for the first time successfully observed homogenous crystal melting at single-particle resolution, closing the long-term debate on alleged defects generated before melting. To explicate this phenomenon, micrometer-sized colloidal particles were used as “big atoms” to simulate the atomic systems, hence obtaining important insights to phase transitions.

The viscosity of supercooled liquid will be increased dramatically by 15 orders of magnitude but with little structural change during its transition to a disordered solid glass state. The glass transition was marked as one of the 125 greatest unsolved mysteries in all disciplines by Science magazine in 2005. Glasses stand for disordered solids which are composed of atoms, molecules, polymers or colloids. Window glass, for example, is composed of silicon oxide. Prof Han and his collaborators investigated colloidal glasses which are composed of ellipsoidal particles and unveiled novel structural signatures of the glass transition.

The research results conducted by Prof Han and his group members, namely Zhongyu Zheng, Ziren Wang, Yi Peng and Feng Wang have recently been published in several renowned scientific journals including Science, Nature, Nature Communications and Physical Review Letters.

Prof Yilong Han joined the Department of Physics in HKUST as an Assistant Professor in 2007 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2013. He obtained bachelor degree from Peking University in China and a doctoral degree from the University of Chicago, and conducted his postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania in the US.

Prof Yilong Han

Prof Yilong Han

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