USTC: A Powerhouse of Talent


  • Younan Xia,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biomedical Engineering Washington University St. Louis, MO 63130 (USA)
    • Department of Biomedical Engineering Washington University St. Louis, MO 63130 (USA).
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  • Shuhong Yu

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Nanomaterials and Chemistry Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale Department of Chemistry University of Science and Technology of China Hefei, Anhui 230026 (P. R. China)
    • Division of Nanomaterials and Chemistry Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale Department of Chemistry University of Science and Technology of China Hefei, Anhui 230026 (P. R. China).
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We are greatly honored to assemble this Special Issue to celebrate the accomplishments of the University of Science and Technology of China, a research-oriented university better known as USTC in the scientific community. The reason is very simple; both of us received excellent education from USTC: Xia a B.S. in Chemical Physics in 1987 and Yu a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry in 1998.

USTC is a national university located in Hefei, Anhui, a province that is probably known best for its world-famous Yellow Mountain or Huangshan (see the map). The University was founded in Beijing by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in September 1958 and relocated to Hefei in 1970 during the Cultural Revolution. USTC was established in response to the urgent need for the national economy, defense construction, and education in advanced science and technology. Today, it remains the only university directed by the CAS, while all other universities in China are under the leadership of the Ministry of Education. Because of its unique connection with CAS, USTC has received profound supports from all (over 120!) of the research institutes of CAS since its founding. Currently, USTC comprises nine schools that encompass twenty three departments (mainly in science and engineering), together with a few special programs such as the Special Class for the Gifted Young and the Experimental Class for the Teaching Reform. It also operates graduate and professional schools in other major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou.

original image

A portion of the Chinese map showing several major cities surrounding Hefei, where USTC is located. Hefei is approximately one hour away from Nanjing and three hours away from Shanghai by train and the flight time from Hefei to Beijing is only two hours. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Yellow Mountain (or Huangshan) is known for its scenery, sunsets, peculiarly-shaped granite peaks, pine trees, and views of the clouds from above.

From the very beginning, USTC has been blessed with strong supports from the Chinese government, including the establishment of two national facilities on the campus: the National Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (NSRL) and the Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale (HFNL). In fact, USTC is the only university in China that has two national facilities on the same campus. The newly established HFNL was formally approved by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology in November 2003. It was founded on a multidisciplinary approach, with a focus on both national strategic demands and frontier basic research. Research at HNFL involves physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, and information technology in a highly integrated fashion. Currently, 153 research scientists (most of them are USTC faculty) and staff members work at HFNL. Major facilities include a low-temperature and strong-magnetic-field laboratory and a micro- and nanofabrication laboratory. In 2006, HFNL was selected as a research base for the “Quantum Research” national science megaproject. It has also been a leading institution or participant of three other megaprojects: “Nanoscience and Nanotechnology”, “Protein Science”, and “Development and Reproductive Biology”. HFNL enjoys worldwide fame and was recently selected as one of the Top Ten State Science and Technology Developments in the World.

Since its founding, the USTC has been persisting in fundamental research and enhancement of original capabilities of innovation, in order to accumulate strength and power for solving key issues in the scientific development of the nation. Over the past decade, the citation count per faculty member at the USTC is 8.23, among the highest for publications from all universities in China. According to the 2008 World University Rankings by Times Higher Education, USTC was ranked as the third top university in China and the twenty forth top university in Asia. In the 21st century, USTC is expediting the establishment of a world-class research university from five major aspects, namely talent cultivation, faculty development, discipline construction, society service, and a modern university system.

USTC is probably known best for its high-quality students. The admission is very selective: more than 90% of incoming freshmen were ranked in the top 5% of their high school class and their scores for college-entrance examination were also among the very highest in the nation. The students of USTC have a strong reputation of being highly motivated and hardworking. For every 1000 students graduating from USTC, more than 700 will pursue a master or Ph.D. degree, and at least one of them will be later elected as a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences or the Chinese Academy of Engineering. These two ratios are also the highest among all Chinese universities. With these statistics in mind, it will not be difficult to understand why there are so many USTC alumni who are holding faculty positions in the western countries. The table provides a partial list of those alumni in the United States alone, whose research is closely related to materials science and nanotechnology. As limited by space, this special issue can only accommodate the contributions from ten USTC alumni, in addition to the contributions from six USTC faculty members (most of them also received their education from USTC).

A partial list of USTC alumni who hold faculty positions in the United States and whose research is closely related to materials science and nanotechnology.
NameMajor and YearCurrent InstitutionResearch Areas
Stephen Y. ChouB.S. in PhysicsDept. of Electrical EngineeringNanofabrication, nanoelectronics
1978Princeton University
Jianping LuB.S. in PhysicsDept. of Physics and AstronomyCarbon nanotubes
1983University of North Carolina
Shan X. WangB.S. in PhysicsDept. of Materials Science & EngineeringMagnetic nanomaterials, information-storage devices
1986Stanford University
Younan XiaB.S. in Chemical PhysicsDept. of Biomedical EngineeringMaterials chemistry, nanomaterials, biomedical applications
1987Washington University in St. Louis
Yushan YanB.S. in Chemical PhysicsDept. of ChemistryZeolites, low-k dielectric materials, fuel-cell technology
1988University of California at Riverside
Wenbin LinB.S. in Chemical PhysicsDept. of ChemistrySupramolecular chemistry, porous materials, magnetic nanomaterials
1988University of North Carolina
Mingdi YanB.S. in Polymer PhysicsDept. of ChemistrySurface chemistry, nanobiotechnology
1988Portland State University
Zhonghua PengB.S. in GeochemistryDept. of ChemistryOrganic/inorganic hybrid molecular materials, polymer science
1989University of Missouri-Kansas City
Zhengdong ChengB.S. in ChemistryDept. of Chemical EngineeringComplex fluids, colloidal materials
1990Texas A&M University
Shaowei ChenB.S. in Chemical PhysicsDept. of ChemistryNanomaterials, electrochemistry
1991University of California at Santa Cruz
Shanhui FanB.S. in PhysicsDept. of Electrical EngineeringMetamaterials, nanophotonics
1992Stanford University
Peidong YangB.S. in ChemistryDept. of ChemistryMaterials chemistry, nanomaterials, nanophotonics, nanocatalysts
1993University of California at Berkeley
Chongwu ZhouB.S in Electric EngineeringDept. of Electrical EngineeringNanotechnology, nanoelectronics
1993University of Southern California
Jixin ChengB.S. in ChemistryDept. of ChemistryNanophotonics, optical imaging, bionanotechnology
1994Purdue University
Liangshi LiB.S. in Chemical PhysicsDept. of ChemistrySemiconductor nanostructures, hybrid solar cells
1994Indiana University
Ju LiB.S. in Materials ScienceDept. of Materials Science & EngineeringMaterials theory and modeling
1994University of Pennsylvania
Chris LiB.S. in Polymer ScienceDept. of Materials Science & EngineeringSoft matter, hybrid materials, polymer science
1995Drexel University
Jiangeng XueB.S. in PhysicsDept. of Materials Science & EngineeringOrganic semiconductors, solar cells
1995University of Florida
Rongchao JinB.S. in Chemical PhysicsDept. of ChemistryMaterials chemistry, metal clusters, nanophotonics
1995Carnegie Mellon University
Yugang SunB.S. in ChemistryCenter for Nanoscale MaterialsNanophotonics, materials chemistry, solar cells
1996Argonne National Laboratory
Jun ZhuB.S. in PhysicsDept. of PhysicsCarbon nanotubes, fullerenes
1996Pennsylvania State University
Xiangfeng DuanB.S. in ChemistryDept. of Chemistry and BiochemistryMaterials chemistry, graphene, nanoelectronics
1997University of California at Los Angles
Ying WangB.S. in Chemical PhysicsDept. of Mechanical EngineeringNanomaterials, energy storage, solar cells
1997Louisiana State University
Yi CuiB.S. in ChemistryDept. of Materials Science & EngineeringNanomaterials, batteries, solar cells
1998Stanford University
Yadong YinB.S. in ChemistryDept. of ChemistryColloidal science, photonic materials, nanocatalysts
1998University of California at Riverside
Yiying WuB.S. in Chemical PhysicsDept. of ChemistryMaterials chemistry, nanowires, solar cells
1998Ohio State University
Wei YouB.S. in ChemistryDept. of ChemistryPolymer synthesis, organic solar cells
1999University of North Carolina
Chen YangB.S. in Chemical PhysicsDept. of ChemistryNanomaterials, nanoscale devices
1999Purdue University
Yu HuangB.S. in ChemistryDept. of Materials Science & EngineeringBiomimetics, nanomaterials, nanoscale devices
1999University of California at Los Angles
Jiaxing HuangB.S. in ChemistryDept. Materials Science & EngineeringNanomaterials, graphene, self-assembly
2000Northwestern University
Dunwei WangB.S. in Chemical PhysicsDept. of ChemistryNanomaterials, energy conversion
2000Boston College
Yue WuB.S. in ChemistrySchool of Chemical EngineeringNanomaterials, nanoscale devices
2001Purdue University

It is hoped that this special issue will provide the readers some representative and exciting accomplishments contributed by USTC researchers or alumni to the field of advanced materials. We also sincerely hope that readers will enjoy the scope of topics presented here and perhaps take this opportunity to know more about our Alma mater.

Go USTC! We are all proud of you!