Physicist Xiaolong Liu receives Powe Junior Faculty Award

Author: Deanna Csomo Ferrell

Assistant professor Xiaolong Liu in the Department of Physics & Astronomy has received a 2023 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) to assist with his research in the field of condensed matter and quantum physics.

Xiaolong Liu

The competitive research award provides seed money for junior faculty members that often results in additional funding from other sources, according to the organization’s website.

Researchers have been trying for decades to uncover exotic superconductors and create superconductors that can work at higher temperatures—and Liu has already made significant contributions to the research.

“Superconductors have the potential to revolutionize basically all aspects of our lives, from transportation to medicine to power transmission,” said Liu, an experimental physicist. “The problem is they only work at very low temperatures and you need to cool them down quite a bit, which is energy consuming.”

Liu said he strives to discover what new physics can emerge in unconventional materials and nanostructures. Liu has developed new types of microscopic imaging techniques, including using a high-speed scanned Josephson-tunneling microscopy technique (SJTM) to visualize quantum matter at the atomic scale. He previously was awarded the 2022 Blavatnik Regional Award for Young Scientists for his microscopy work.

In addition to examining fundamental properties of superconductors, Liu also researches new, artificial structures and materials, and synthesizes new materials that can behave as superconductors.

He holds a doctoral degree from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Technology of China. In addition to the ORAU and Blavatnik awards, he also received the 2022 Young Scientist Prize in Low Temperature Physics by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

“I was very thrilled to receive that email which said I received the award,” Liu said. “ I’m very thankful.

“It’s definitely a great recognition for what I have done, and also more importantly, what I propose to do.”