My interest in experimentalcondensed matter physics came from my attendance of REU program in Universityof Michigan. Earlier, during my three years at the University of Science and Technologyof China (USTC), I had shown my potential in academics and accumulatedsufficient experience for research.
The best proof of my potentialfor study is the fast rise of my study rank in the department. My freshman lifein the School of Earth and Space Sciences was a depression period for me. I feltno much interest in my major, and did poorly in most subjects. However, afteradjusting my major to physics and finding out the problems in my study methods,I spent the next year on diligent and highly effective study, and my rank inthe class soared from the second half of my former class to No.4 out of 78students. Since then, I have always kept being one of the top students. I haveearned the excellent academic records of overall GPA 3.85, ranking 4thin my major and built a solid foundation of mathematics and physics with scoresof A or A+. I even acted as the teaching assistant in my senior year and awardedoutstanding graduate when I graduated.
My early research began from the “Research-orientedPhysics Experiment Project”. I worked with my friends on the project about thephotoelectric conversion of metallofullerene. During the short two months, wedivided the work into preparation of materials, characterization of products,theoretical simulation. We arranged our job according to interests andstrengths, and discussed our progress and the next plan every week. I wasresponsible for the physical part and the design of experimental device. Cooperationhelped our work stand out and win the first prize.
In my junior year, I wanted to dosome theoretical work to practice being creative. So I joined in ProfessorZijin Lin’s group, whose research focused on the theory of simulation of thesolid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). My job is to design models to calculate theconductivity of SOFC composite electrodes in different circumstances moreaccurately. I attended the group meetings frequently, and offered my ideastowards many problems. Later, I was assigned the task to assist a doctoral inmodeling the conductivity of a specific ternary system. I noticed thedifference between this system and the general random one, and then came aboutan approach to deal with it. After developing the existing coordination numbertheory as basis for the further calculation, I applied what I learnt aboutelectronics and percolation theory to calculate the conductivity of eachcomposite electrode ball and the whole systems. It was a busy weekend. I was soexcited when we found that our theoretical model matched pretty well with the experiment,suggesting that our efforts paid off. The article, of which I am the secondauthor, has been included in the proceedings of the 19thInternational Conference on Solid State Ionics and accepted by Solid StateIonics.
These experiences enhanced myability in research. To carry out a better project, I have to cooperate withothers for complementary advantages. To design a model fit for the specificsystem, I have to be stricter and more creative. What’s more, I got adapted tothe academic life and got to like it. Searching something new, overcomingobstacles and enjoying the sense of accomplishment are quite intriguing.
My interest shifted to stronglycorrelated systems due to experience in Umich. I was selected to attendUmich-REU program in 2013 summer and worked in Prof. Lu Li’s lab. During thesetwo months, I was assigned to search and test new materials for cantileversthat could work under a pulsed field. Meanwhile, I assisted in the operation ofthe device in the lab and improved my experimental skills. Gradually I found Iam lost in the microcosmic wonderful phenomenon. The phenomena such little intriguingelectrons exhibit in macroscopic world are really fantastic. Besides, sincethere were a variety of activities in REU program, such as weekly seminar,visiting nanofabrication laboratory, Fermi-lab and so on, I had the opportunityto experience the American life, and enhanced my ability to adapt to westernculture quickly.
After returning to USTC, I joinedProf. Xianhui Chen’s group to learn more about topological insulators. Mybachelor thesis was about the transport properties of doped SmB6. This topic gaveme a thorough process to study something new, from single-crystal growth,measurements to data analysis and won outstanding thesis. Interest promoted meto ask for knowledge more actively, taking graduate level courses, masteringmore techniques, cooperating with others on experiments. I enjoyed doing researchand now I am looking forward to my new exploration in my graduation period.