Prof. Yi Xie, 2015 Laureate for Asia-Pacific

Yi Xie was rewarded for her significant contributions to creating new materials a few atoms thick with promising applications in the conversion of heat or sunlight into electricity.

Inorganic Chemistry

Professor, University of Science & Technology of China, Hefei, China 

Professor Yi Xie’s research is on the cutting-edge of one of our planet’s most crucial issues: harnessing materials for energy conversion. She is working with new unconventional materials only a few atoms thick, known as two-dimensional nanomaterials, in order to maximize the use of electrons to convert energy more efficiently. Her work will contribute to reducing our dependence on ever-scarcer fossil fuels, lessening pollution and boosting energy utilization efficiency.


The materials currently used to produce or transfer energy, such as the semiconductors that harvest solar energy to generate electricity, are surprisingly inefficient. Much of the energy - carried by the electrons - is lost along the way: rather than traveling directly to reach reaction molecules or device electrodes, the electrons “bump into each other or onto material.” This causes energy carriers to be destroyed, and unnecessary and destructive heat to be generated. The new ultra-thin materials that Professor Xie’s team is experimenting with are designed to reduce such energy loss via surface structure optimization. They are also far more efficient in harvesting and converting energy sources than conventional materials, pushing energy utilization to the limit.


Acutely aware that the future of our planet will depend enormously on advances in her field of study, Professor Xie is deeply committed to passing on her knowledge and passion to a new generation. Her reputation as a professor and mentor is on par with her reputation as a researcher, and she has won nearly as many prizes for excellence as an educator as she has for her scientific achievements. Among many other honors, she received the Hok Ying Tung Young Teachers Award at the beginning of her career and was more recently the recipient of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Graduate Advisor Award for several consecutive years. Her attitude is certainly best conveyed by a pithy sentence she addresses to prospective new applicants on her laboratory’s website:

 Enthusiasm for science is the one prerequisite.

For Women in Science

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