Tan Kah Kee Young Scientist Award

 
Technological Sciences
Dr. Jia Zhu was born in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province in February 1982. Now he is a professor and doctoral supervisor at Nanjing University. He received his Ph.D. in engineering from Stanford University at 2010, followed by a postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley. During that period, he was awarded the " Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad", "Gold Medal of Graduate Student Award (Material Research Society, 2010)", " Division of Inorganic Chemistry Yong Investigator Award (American Chemical Society, 2011)". Selected in "Thousand Talents Program", he returned to Nanjing University in September 2013. He is now the PI in Nanjing National Laboratory of Microstructures, the chief scientist of the National Youth "973" Project.

Aiming at the strategic needs and international scientific and technological frontier of the water-energy nexus, his research has been focus on tailoring micro/nanostructures for solar thermal conversion and water purification. Up to now, he has published more than 50 papers in scientific journals, such as the Nature series and Science series (including 9 ESI high-cited papers/hot papers) and organized five international conferences in the field of energy. Because of his original contribution in the field of "Solar Thermal Conversion and Solar Water Treatment", he received numerous awards, including the 2016 MIT Technology Review TR 35 Award and the DuPont Young Professor Award
 
Highly efficient solar thermal conversion based on micro/nano structures
 
Energy and water are two basic elements for human life and critical strategic resources for the society development. Harvesting solar energy for efficient and effective water treatment has been the focus for the sustainable development of energy, environment and water resources. Traditional solar desalination is mostly driven by solar heat or electricity generation, which typically require huge infrastructures, footprint and investment, not available in various areas facing water scarcity. Nanostructures with unique scale and morphology, and tunable optical and thermal properties, provide new opportunities for solar thermal conversion and water treatment. In recent years, Dr. Jia Zhu and his research team have been focus on tailoring nanostructures for solar thermal conversion and water treatment, and demonstrated several generations of nanomaterials based solar desalination designs, with advanced photonic structures, heat localization and efficient vapor generation and condensation. He first demonstrated a plasmonic absorber which can enable an average measured absorbance of ~99% across the wavelengths from 400 nm to 10 micron, the most efficient and broadband plasmonic absorber reported to date; he also developed the first plasmonic enhanced solar desalination, which can enable efficient and effective desalination; he came out novel designs of "two dimensional water path" and "artificial transpiration", which for the first time can achieve efficient solar desalination under one sun without any external thermal insulation. His team is now working with various partners to provide a portable and personalized clean water solution with minimum carbon footprint.
 
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