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Dr Alvin Yuanyuan Zhou: Innovating Semiconductor Technologies


Dr Alvin Yuanyuan Zhou, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics

Atomic structure of perovskite semiconductor

Photograph of a perovskite solar cell based on Dr Zhou’s technology

Traditional semiconductors, employed in the manufacturing of various electronic and energy devices such as solar cells, are mostly based on silicon that has to be fabricated at high economic and environmental costs. However, the massive need for semiconductors in future smart societies necessitates the innovation of cheaper and better alternatives. Dr Alvin Yuanyuan Zhou, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics, attaches priority to investigating advanced semiconductor technologies using new-generation materials. Dr Zhou is currently conducting cutting-edge research on a new type of semiconductors called perovskites. One prominent advantage of perovskite semiconductors is their exceptional ability to be fabricated using a low-cost solution-printing process, just like how newspapers are massively produced.

Another important application of perovskite semiconductor technology is also related to creating high-performance solar cells, thus offering an unprecedented opportunity for clean energy generation at an extremely low cost.  Also, owing to the intrinsic merits of perovskite semiconductors, perovskite solar cells possess market-attractive flexible and semitransparent features, which will reform our impression of solar panels and create an aesthetically pleasing, carbon-free urban environment. Deploying this novel solar technology to reduce the carbon footprint of modern cities like Hong Kong carries enormous potential.

The long-term impacts of Dr Zhou’s current research are immense. It is hoped that perovskites will be applied to the production of various functional devices, including but not limited to solar cells, light-emitting devices, photo-detectors, and applications all-throughout cities with “smarter” settings. Think of lights dimming automatically when there is low pedestrian traffic - the possibilities of this technology’s utilisation are endless.

Dr Zhou joined HKBU under its Talent100 Initiative in the fall of 2020. The initiative seeks to bolster the University’s strength in research-focused areas. Dr Zhou obtained his PhD from Brown University in 2016, where he subsequently served as an Assistant Research Professor. He was identified in the world’s top 2% of scientists based on citation impact according to recent analysis by Stanford University. Since his appointment at HKBU, the research he led on perovskite semiconductors has been published in top-tier journals including Nature Communications and Joule (Cell Press).

Dr Zhou could be described as interdisciplinarity personified, as he is a member of HKBU’s Smart Society Lab, Computational Medicine Lab and System Health Lab. Dr Zhou believes that the interdisciplinarity of HKBU will support and facilitate his future research endeavours. “While my research focuses on the physics of new materials and devices, I am strongly interested in maximising the societal impacts of my research via interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers in various fields, such as social sciences,” Dr Zhou stated. “The University’s Research Office is doing a lot to promote interdisciplinarity - it’s very exciting!”

Source: Research Website