Concentrating on innovative breakthrough from 0
to 1, Zunfeng Liu, a professor of materials science in the post-80s of Nankai
University, believed that the world of new materials has infinite charm. Many
of his research results were published in international authoritative journals.
From his point of view, the basic qualities of scientific researcher are
curiosity and willpower.
A piece of smart material clothes can sense the
moisture on the surface of the skin. Clothes change from long sleeves to short
sleeves when they sweat, they return to the original when the sweat dried...
A piece of artificial spider silk can bear a lot
of weight, stretch slowly and will not rebound as fast as a rubber band. When
there's a fire on the upper floors, people can use it to slow down the falling
and save themselves...In the laboratory of Zunfeng Liu, a post-80s professor
and doctoral supervisor at the College of Chemistry, Nankai University, these
fantastic materials have become possible. Science and other
international authoritative journals published many of his research results.
The favorite——Change human life through scientific research
"The development of human is also the development
of materials. Imagine if we could make a wire that wouldn't break no matter how
we pulled it, maybe we could connect the Earth and the moon." Speaking of
materials science, Zunfeng Liu is in high spirits. As far as he concerned,
through the new polymer functional materials research, to find a stronger, more
intelligent materials, is to explore the mysteries of the world.
Zunfeng Liu said frankly that he likes innovative
research. “I don’t do the so-called ‘fashionable’ scientific research. I like
changing human life through scientific research the most.”
In 2008, Zunfeng Liu went to Leiden University in
the Netherlands as a postdoctoral fellow. His co-supervisor helped him choose
the research topic of separating proteins from nanometer materials and
assisting in the analysis of protein structures. It was a difficult and obscure
subject, progressing very slowly, without major paper published for several
years." But years later, it turned out that the original study opened up a
new way to analyze structural problems in proteins." The experience, Prof.
Liu said, made him feel more keenly that innovation research is the most
difficult task and from 0 to 1 is the most meaningful innovation.
Zunfeng Liu set his sights on a less researched
field. At present, air conditioners and refrigerators are widely used in the
principle of compression refrigeration, refrigeration efficiency is generally
less than 60%. An obvious question is how to improve refrigeration efficiency. Common
improvement ideas focus on changing refrigerant, structural design and other
ways, but Zunfeng Liu is not satisfied with this. A study his team was involved
in initially confirmed "torsional refrigeration" a new type of
flexible refrigeration method, which is to use materials such as rubber,
fishing lines and textile threads to realize refrigeration like "torsional
twist" with a cooling efficiency of 67 percent and a reduction in cooling
costs. "Before, people didn't realize that these common materials could be
used for cooling." The new refrigeration technology expands a new sector
in the field of refrigeration and offers a new way to reduce energy consumption
in the field, said Liu. The findings, published online October 11, 2019 in the journal
Science, are reported by Corresponding author Lawrence Liu.
In 2013, Zunfeng Liu began to contact with
intelligent materials. His main line of scientific research and innovation is
to find new properties of materials and new applications by analyzing and
utilizing special structures of materials.
From his opinion, innovative ideas can be
unrestrained, but the application must be down-to-earth. Artificial muscles can
simulate the muscles of humans and animals, and have a wide range of
applications in the fields of medicine, aerospace and so on. However, the
preparation of "artificial muscle" fiber is mainly made of
nano-carbon material, which is expensive, complicated and of poor comfort. Zunfeng
Liu and his team took a different approach, using natural pure silk instead of
traditional carbon nano-materials, without chemical modification and additives,
to make smart clothes through conventional industrial processes.
The most exciting——The question mark in my heart is
Presided over a number of national natural
science foundation projects, selected into the national, Tianjin and other high-end
talent programs...Zunfeng Liu's resume is pretty enviable, but he said frankly
that his undergraduate performance is not the top, and his postgraduate is not
recommended, "I am not the excellent students in teacher's eyes".
As a student, Liu was more obsessed with figuring
out the principles behind questions than with getting high grades. What does
acceleration mean in Newton's second law? Prof. Liu stucked with the question
for a week in high school. "This mode of thinking laid a solid foundation
for my subsequent innovative research." said Prof. Liu.
In 1998, Zunfeng Liu was admitted to the
Chemistry Department of Nankai University. In the library, Liu discovered a
"new continent". He spends almost all his time in the library except
for classes, dabbling in different fields, such as economics, philosophy,
physics and biology. Recalling the experience in that year, Zunfeng Liu was filled
with emotion "A large amount of knowledge of various disciplines greatly
improved my cognition of things, which promoted innovation in scientific
Liu said he was most excited about the question
mark being "straightened out". Innovation research is like a big
tree. If it has a solid foundation, it needs many branches to flourish. If it
has more branches, it will be more likely to discover new phenomena. You have
to know what's in the world to know what's not. In addition to the knowledge of
chemistry and materials science, he also applied a large number of physics,
mathematics, biology and other knowledge.
The biggest dream——Students make greater contributions to their
In 2016, Zunfeng Liu came to Nankai University to
teach as a doctoral supervisor, with more than a dozen master and doctoral
students. Doctoral student Wang Run can't forget an experience while working on
a project torsional refrigeration." At that time, the temperature data
measured by the 'torsional refrigeration' of rubber shrinkage stretching by
seven times had been accurate and stable. However, just as we were preparing to
write the paper, the data changed suddenly, with a difference of 1-2 degrees
Celsius." Wang recalled.
Zunfeng Liu leads us to find the reason. After
checking the machine condition, whether the sample preparation is repeated,
whether the operation method is standard, and whether the calculation is wrong,
the research is still in a deadlock. "We were scratching our heads and
even suspected that the previous test data were not accurate," said Wang. "Prof.Liu
encouraged us not to give up. It's normal to fiddle around for months to get
duplicate data." It turned out that tianjin had higher humidity in the
summer, causing changes in the experimental data.
As Zunfeng Liu often said, "Curiosity and
willpower are the basic qualities for scientific research." Students know
that if they are criticized, it is because they are perfunctory. Prof. Liu is
optimistic and gentle, caring and tolerant to students. There is no bad student
in Liu's eyes. "They just haven't learned the method yet."
"I hope my students can grow quickly and
make greater contributions to the country in the future." said Prof. Liu.