Prominent Materials Science Physicist to Join UCI Faculty

Xiaoqing Pan will oversee new $20 million research institute

Xiaoqing PanXiaoqing Pan, an internationally recognized researcher in the physics of materials, will join the UC Irvine faculty and lead a $20 million initiative to establish a world-class electron microscopy and materials science research facility.

The Irvine Materials Research Institute will help foster discovery of new properties in potentially lifesaving and technologically important materials through characterization - probing the internal structure of a material's atoms. The institute will serve as an interdisciplinary nexus for the study and development of these materials, enabling such advances as better solar cells, sustainable batteries and semiconductors, and treatments for bacterial and viral infections.

The transmission electron microscopes to be set up at the IMRI use beams of electrons instead of light waves to image a specimen with atomic resolution. This method produces a more detailed view at substantially greater magnification than with any optical microscope. UC Irvine researchers will utilize these microscopes to examine biological materials (such as microorganisms and cells), large molecules, medical biopsy samples, metals, minerals, ceramics and the characteristics of various surfaces.

"UC Irvine is making an investment of $20 million to develop cutting-edge capabilities in transmission electron microscopy," said Howard Gillman, provost and executive vice chancellor. "Bringing Professor Pan here to lead this institute is a real triumph for us in the materials science area. The research facility will establish our national prominence in this field and broadly benefit our programs in engineering, physical sciences, biological sciences and medicine."

"The electron microscopy initiative and the IMRI at UC Irvine will provide me with new tools and great opportunities for potential collaborations with the many researchers on campus," said Pan, a physicist. "I am grateful for the chance to help shape the university's future development through a combination of assisting students, developing departments, establishing the institute and moving forward in my own research."

His work focuses on understanding advanced functional materials, which range from ceramics and semiconductors to biological materials and nanomaterials. He has made pioneering contributions to the field and recently discovered new methods of improving the performance of ferroelectric materials - paving the way for next-generation memory devices that are faster, smaller and more reliable.

At UC Irvine, Pan's appointment will be split between The Henry Samueli School of Engineering's Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science and the School of Physical Sciences' Department of Physics & Astronomy. As a professor and Henry Samueli Endowed Chair in Engineering, Pan will serve as the inaugural director of the IMRI.

"Xiaoqing Pan will be the centerpiece of our new world-class materials science research program," said Gregory Washington, dean of the Samueli School. "With Pan's leadership and the significant investment we're making, UC Irvine's institute will be like no other."

"We're pleased to have Professor Pan join us during this exciting time for UC Irvine's materials science program. The establishment of this interdisciplinary institute is a milestone, and we look forward to exploring novel techniques for electron microscopy," said Kenneth C. Janda, dean of the School of Physical Sciences.

Pan has received numerous awards for his work, including the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award and the Chinese NSF's Outstanding Young Investigator Award, and he served from 2005 to 2010 as an overseas member of the Chinese Academy of Science's scientific review board. A fellow of the American Ceramic Society, the American Physical Society and the Microscopy Society of America, Pan has published more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers in high-impact journals, including Nature, Science and Nature Materials. His work has been cited more than 7,000 times.

He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in physics at China's Nanjing University and a doctorate in solid state physics at Germany's Saarland University. Pan will join UC Irvine after 18 years at the University of Michigan, where he directed the Electron Microbeam Analysis Laboratory. His appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2015.