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Academician Liu Zhongfan:seek the greatness of your family and country in the micro of nano technology

One day in 1993, a young man from Japan came to the campus of Peking University. He returned home with more than 60 boxes of instruments and equipment. As soon as he entered Yanyuan, he began to build the laboratory from scratch. Decades later, this young scholar is well-known in the field of scientific research in the world and has become a pioneer in the field of nano materials research in the world. He is Liu Zhongfan, member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Jiu San Society, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, director of the nano science and technology research center of Peking University, and President of Beijing graphene Research Institute.

“My life is very simple. I was doing one thing. When I was a child, I studied and now I study.” In the decades since he returned to China to participate in scientific research and construction, Liu Zhongfan has been determined to forge ahead, explore and innovate again and again, and seek forThe national economy and the people’s livelihood

From going abroad to returning home:”go abroad to do research and return home to do business”

In July, 1983, with the support of his mother, Liu Zhongfan, a young man with a strong interest in chemistry, chose to continue his further study, starting a ten-year career of studying in Japan. His research made him more and more trapped in the world of chemistry. He received master’s and doctor’s degrees from Yokohama University and Tokyo University, and worked as a postdoctoral at Tokyo University and Japan Institute of molecular science.

In the eighth year of studying abroad, Liu Zhongfan met his bole, caishengmin, Professor of Chemistry Department of Peking University. Professor caishengmin has invited Liu Zhongfan more than once to return to work. Facing professor caishengmin’s enthusiasm and sincerity, Liu Zhongfan accepted his invitation.

At that time, China was still on the eve of scientific and technological take-off, and its scientific research conditions were relatively backward, with more”going out” and less”coming back”. Science knows no borders, but scientists have their motherland.”What I do abroad is only research. Returning to China is the real business. There will be a larger world and a broader stage. To contribute to the motherland is my greatest wish to return home!” This is his wish.

Liu Zhongfan chose his motherland.

With more than 60 boxes of experimental instruments sent by his tutor, Liu Zhongfan returned to Peking University and set up the photoelectric intelligent materials research laboratory by himself. In the two empty houses, starting from scratch, he had neither funds nor personnel, so he went to the construction site and factory to find sand and sawdust, and set up a shockproof platform by himself. Where each plug is placed, Liu Zhongfan will design it by himself and find someone to install it. He also needs to buy tables, chairs and benches one by one.

He is the first to come to the laboratory every day and the last to leave at night. Sometimes he works late into the night, and the door of the building has been closed, so he can only turn over the door and go home. The cold comes and the summer goes, and Liu Zhongfan does it steadfastly.

In 1994, Liu Zhongfan applied for the climbing program of the Ministry of science and technology, with a funding of 5million. In the early 1990s, this was a huge number. With solid research results, Liu Zhongfan became the chief scientist of the project and the youngest chief scientist of the Ministry of science and technology at that time.

From then on, Liu Zhongfan began the journey of nano climbing. On September 27th, 1997, Liu Zhongfan and academician wuquande jointly promoted the establishment of Peking University nanoscience and technology research center, the earliest interdisciplinary and interdisciplinary nano research institution in China.

Liu Zhongfan’s high sensitivity to scientific research has something to do with his strong desire to explore nature since childhood. In the winter of 1962, Liu Zhongfan was born into a peasant family in Jiutai, Jilin Province. When I was a child, my family was poor, my father worked in agriculture, and my mother was a housewife. Only my brother who taught in the primary school in the neighboring village had education. Influenced by his brother, Liu Zhongfan loved reading since childhood. He wanted to test everything he saw in the book himself:would listening to music for chickens and ducks produce more eggs? Is it better to water the ground with cold boiled water than with raw water? With strong curiosity, he put these”sudden whims” into action and carefully observed the experimental results.

In many years since then, his strong interest in knowledge always led his research. One day in 1998, Liu Zhongfan suddenly wondered whether he could line up carbon nanotubes like molecules. After coming up with this idea, he immediately began to try it. After repeated experiments, the idea was successfully implemented, and carbon nanotubes stood neatly on the surface for the first time.

In 2000, as a pioneer, he published his first article in relevant international fields.

From carbon nanotubes to graphene:”either on the shelf or on the shelf”

Graphene, known as the”material that will change the world”, was discovered by British scientists in 2004, and then became the cutting-edge field in the world. It is the thinnest, hardest, most conductive and thermally conductive new material known in the world. In 2008, Liu Zhongfan led his team to go deep into the field of graphene and began to study the synthesis methods of graphene.

The 2010 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to two scientists who discovered graphene, setting off a worldwide upsurge of competition in the field of graphene industry. At the same time, the industrial application of graphene has received extensive attention in China, and graphene industrial parks and industrial centers have been built in various places.

“To be honest, at that time, the publicity of graphene in the society was a little overheated, and many statements about graphene were unreliable.” Liu Zhongfan said frankly. However, he believes that rather than pointing out that this statement is wrong and this practice does not work, it is better to try what he thinks is right.”Don’t do anything else, just graphene, and go ahead and make ‘useful and practical’ graphene.” It was this decision that made him embark on a new journey of graphene industrialization research.

“Conquered by its charm and attracted by its future, I will fight for it for the rest of my life without hesitation until today.” Liu Zhongfan devotes himself to the basic theoretical research of graphene, and has been exploring and researching for ten years, sending countless papers. In 2018, Liu Zhongfan established Beijing graphene Research Institute. As the president, he led the team to carry out basic graphene research and industrialization core technology research and development in an all-round way, exploring the way for China’s graphene research and application field.

“What we do now will become a term in the future, so we must standardize.” Liu Zhongfan repeatedly warned the students. He believes that for the graphene industry, preparation determines the future. Therefore, his team grasped two key points:one is to prepare high-quality materials with global competitiveness, and the other is to study higher-end and upstream technologies in the field of preparation equipment.

“It can do without it” is not the killer application in Liu Zhongfan’s heart. Although many graphene related products have appeared in the domestic market, most of them are”three major items”, namely, graphene electrothermal products, graphene modified batteries and graphene anticorrosive coatings. These products are difficult to bring disruptive changes to human life. He believes that a killer application should be able to upgrade traditional industries and create new industries. Therefore, Liu Zhongfan has always been committed to exploring more directions and providing the best materials and equipment.

“Make something really useful, or put it on the bookshelf or shelf.” This is Liu Zhongfan’s consistent concept. On the bookshelf, it is not simply publishing academic papers, but really useful for science, which can be found in textbooks; On the shelf, it is not simply to apply for several patents, but really useful for the national economy and the people’s livelihood, which can be found in people’s lives.

From scientific research to education:”talent determines potential, culture determines height”

In 2009, Liu Zhongfan was named”scientific Chinese person of the year”, was elected an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2011, and won the AkzoNobel prize in chemistry of the Chinese Chemical Society in 2012. In his mind, scholars should focus on learning; Academician is a noble title, and the election is a”natural thing”, not a utilitarian goal. He hopes that he will be the original”himself”, do a good job in learning, and bring the younger generation together while promoting academic development

For this reason, for Liu Zhongfan, who is fighting in the front line of scientific research, the three foot platform is another position for him. He believes that”there is no contradiction between scientific research and teaching and educating people. As a teacher, he also has the obligation to undertake the important task of cultivating new people”.”Talent determines potential, mechanism determines efficiency, and culture determines height”, which is Liu Zhongfan’s consistent creed. The proudest thing to talk about is not the publication of more than 600 academic papers, nor the exploration of new fields, but the cultivation of a group of students who love science and nanotechnology.

Teaching by example is better than words. Liu Zhongfan’s example has ignited a batch of students’ interest in scientific research. The vast majority of his students are engaged in scientific research in universities and scientific research institutes at home and abroad. Among them, there are more than 60 professors or researchers, including an academician, 5 leading and top-notch talents of the 10000 person plan, 5 Changjiang Scholars and young Changjiang Scholars, 9 outstanding young people, 8 excellent young people, and 10 enterprise executives, who have contributed their own efforts to scientific research and national development in their respective fields.

Liu Zhongfan always does scientific research with interest, which is also the first page of his educational philosophy.”When a new student comes to me to do scientific research, I first ask him what his strengths and hobbies are, and I let him find questions he is interested in. When he doesn’t know what he is interested in, I will ask him what he is not interested in, so as to try to avoid doing work he is not interested in.” As a tutor, he believes that it is equally important to guide students to find the interests they are good at. Combining the two, we also need to endure the lonely marathon persistence.

In view of the talent training during the 14th Five Year Plan period, he proposed that”interest orientation and classification support should be carried out”, and basic research and applied research and development should not be confused:basic research needs a free and loose innovative cultural environment and cultural soil; Application research and high-tech research and development need clear application target traction. Everyone has limited energy. Only by focusing on real scientific problems, maintaining a quiet, peaceful and positive heart, and making unremitting efforts, can we make breakthroughs.

Responsibility is also an important page of his educational philosophy. When talking about the 2020 government work report, he thought that the sentence”life first” was moving, which was also a vivid expression of his sense of responsibility. Outside the scientific research world, Liu Zhongfan deeply feels more and more social responsibilities. His unforgettable childhood experience made him pay close attention to rural education and the problem of out of school children. He ran in many ways and set up scholarships to help many children on the verge of out of school. The village primary school he once attended has beautiful new school buildings, spacious and bright libraries, brand-new tables and chairs and computer rooms.

Liu Zhongfan was moved to tears when he received a thank-you letter from his parents about his child’s excitement when he saw and used the computer for the first time. He also set up”inspirational scholarship” and”star of hope scholarship” at his alma mater, Changchun University of technology, to encourage young students at his alma mater to work hard.

“With interest, there is pursuit; and with a sense of responsibility, we can integrate individual pursuit with the collective and even the country.” Liu Zhongfan tried his best to assume social responsibility, and he also passed this spirit of responsibility to his students.

“Do one thing well and live up to the northern adults”

“Unswervingly adhere to the dream of home and country, and dare to gamble on life with carbon.” After returning to the embrace of the motherland for 30 years, Liu Zhongfan has opened up a broad sky for his career with his strength, and also contributed his strength to the field of nanotechnology and talent training in the motherland.

“The spirit of science is actually追求真理,追求事实本身,由好奇心驱动, 其实质就是关注、认识和解释自然,没有私心杂念,更无过多功利性虚荣心。只有厚积培植科学精神滋长的土壤,才能孕育和激发出更多的原始创新。”


(本文原载于《中国统一战线》2022年第5期总第365期  记者:程佳俊,北京大学融媒体中心)