President of Shanghai Jiao Tong University at 48: Interest and confidence are the most important things in scientific research


Zhang Jie, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has made important academic achievements in the frontier research of laser fusion physics and high energy density physics.Zhang Jie, 48, became president of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2006.During his 10 years as president of Shanghai Jiaotong University, he and his colleagues implemented a series of reform measures.He and his research team developed an ultra-short pulse high-energy electron diffraction and imaging device, which achieved the ability to analyze structural changes at the submilliangstrom level, and improved the time resolution of ultra-fast electron diffraction to better than 50 femtoseconds, setting a new world record.In 2021, Zhang Jie won the 2021 Future Science Award “Material Science Award”.The life path of Zhang Jie, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a researcher of the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been constantly switching between the three channels of talent cultivation, scientific research and management, and he has done very well…”The first physics experiment in my life, although I failed, I learned a lot.” When he was young, Zhang Jie’s family lived in Jining District, Wulanchabu City, Inner Mongolia.He developed an interest in science at an early age.There was a time when my father didn’t have a job and my mother’s income was all we had to live on.”To help my mother lighten her burden, my father offered to let me come with him to improve the breed of lazy chicken.”Zhang jie said.Lazy chickens are big, eat a lot and lay big eggs.It is called a “lazy chicken” because it does not lay eggs actively.How to make lazy chicken diligent?To this end, father and son began to study…Father and son first try to heat the incubator on the heated kang, the result is not ideal;So, together with books to look up information, and then quietly with the newspaper mother sewing machine packaging carton transformed into a simple insulation box, using the characteristics of bimetal sheet after heat bending different degrees, made incubating eggs with the “temperature controller”.With the incubator and thermostat, Zhang and his father thought they would have no problems hatching the chicks, but they failed because the thermostat’s temperature response curve was not calibrated accurately enough.Zhang Jie said, “My first physics experiment failed, but I learned a lot.”After the failure of brooding chickens, his father took Zhang Jie to do a lot of small experiments, cultivate zhang Jie to explore the unknown of strong interest.For example, the common boiled dumplings in life aroused Zhang Jie’s great interest.”My mother told me that when I cook dumplings, once the water in the pot starts to boil, I should add a little cold water so that the dumplings don’t break.”In order to solve the puzzle, Zhang said, he kept observing, experimenting and thinking, and finally realized that there were physical secrets such as air pressure, boiling point, kinetic energy and potential energy.These childhood experiences, in Zhang Jie heart buried a love of science seeds, with time slowly take root, germinate, thrive…Experiment data in 2003, zhang jie doing photo “complete impossible goal, it is our team’s pursuit of” in 1985, zhang jie to enter the Chinese Academy of Sciences institute of physics, in the king’s day and dao-zhong zhang as soon as possible under the guidance of the teacher, PhD, and selected “more short wavelength laser generated” as the main research contents of the dissertation.Laser is a great invention of mankind since the 20th century.For a long time, most laser wavelengths were in the visible band.”If stimulated radiation can be realized at shorter wavelengths, making it an X-ray laser, it will bring greater contributions to mankind,” Zhang said.Zhang Jie is determined to make continuous efforts to achieve this goal.After receiving his doctorate in 1988, Zhang went abroad to further his studies.In the end, he and his colleagues worked for eight years to break several world records, pushing the shortest wavelength of saturated X-ray output from 22 nanometers to 5.8 nanometers.In 1999, Zhang returned to the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to do research.In order to save money, Zhang jie often from the warehouse can still use some of the old equipment and used parts.Despite the limited conditions, Zhang and his colleague Wei Zhiyi spent only nine months building Aurora I, China’s first terawatt femtosecond laser device, and a batch of diagnostic equipment for physics experiments.In addition to independently developing scientific research devices and equipment, Zhang Jie also leads the team to continuously explore in the field of high energy density physics and laser fusion physics. Zhang Jie said: “MORE than 20 years ago, I envisioned the prototype of a new laser fusion scheme called ‘double cone ignition’.In theory, this method has many advantages, but it is not easy to verify the feasibility of this method in large laser devices.”It was not until 2018 that the initial conditions were available for validation experiments in large laser installations.Since 2018, the team led by Zhang jie has carried out seven rounds of experiments. “During this period, we have developed precise and controllable high-current ultra-short pulsed high-energy electron beams by regulating laser interaction with matter, and applied them in a series of important frontier scientific explorations,” said Zhang jie.For example, an ultra-short pulse high-energy electron diffraction and imaging device was developed to achieve submilliangstroms of structural change resolution and improve the time resolution of ultra-fast electron diffraction to better than 50 femtoseconds, setting a new world record.”Zhang’s research team is currently preparing for the eighth round of experiments, and plans to complete a total of 18 large-scale experiments by 2026.Zhang Jie admitted that it would be extremely difficult to achieve the final goal, “but to achieve the ‘impossible goal’ is what our team is pursuing;The spirit of our joint research team is to do what you know you can’t do.”File photo: zhang Jie (front RIGHT) and his team of super-fast electron diffraction pose for a photo in 2021. “Whether I do scientific research or administrative management, I will devote 100 percent of my energy and emotion.”During his 10 years as president of Jiaotong University, he and his colleagues implemented a series of reform measures in Shanghai Jiaotong University, which promoted the rapid development of the university.Zhang jie also spends a lot of time teaching and reforming teaching methods.Zhang Jie advocates that the main purpose of college teaching is to develop students’ way of thinking.In his classes, he always combines cutting-edge knowledge from different disciplines and encourages his students to think “across boundaries”.For example, can plant photosynthesis be used to explain the clustering of early humans? Can the second law of thermodynamics be used to explain the relationship between the development of human civilization and energy and technological progress?The students were touched by such a novel and unique way of teaching.Zhang Jie can be seen in many student activities.Once, when students were shooting a micro film, he was very happy to guest star;When the school set up a rowing channel, he also enthusiastically coxswum for the rowing team.Sometimes, he will suddenly appear behind the students who are taking photos, secretly than gestures, happy like a child……Zhang jie stepped down from administrative management in 2018.Scientists, teachers, administrative leaders, along the way, asked Zhang Jie to enjoy which role?”Whether I do scientific research or administrative work, I will put 100 percent of my energy and emotion into it,” he said.In Zhang jie’s opinion, interest and confidence are the most important things in scientific research.”It takes a very long time to explore the breakthrough of any difficult problem. Before reaching the end point, scientists must have the confidence and perseverance to ‘do what they know they cannot do’, so that they can make contributions to solving the challenges faced by human society and exploring the mysteries of the natural world.”

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