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Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 Eighth Street, Troy, New York 12180-3590 USA

(518) 276-6310
Fax: (518) 276-6680

Shengbai Zhang
Shengbai Zhang  

Gail and Jeffrey L. Kodosky ’70 Senior Constellation Professor of Physics, Information Technology, and Entrepreneurship


(518) 276-6127

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Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 1989 (Physics).
M.S., University of California at Berkeley, 1985 (Physics).
B.S., Jilin University, Changchun, China, 1982 (Electronic Science and Engineering).

Career Highlights:

1989-91: Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Xerox PARC, Palo Alto.
1991-94: Research Associate, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
1994-97: Staff Scientist, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
1997-00: Senior Scientist I, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
2000-07: Senior Scientist II, National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
2006-    : Adjunct Professor, Jilin University, Changchun, China.

Research Interests:

My research involves first-principles and multiscale calculations of structural and electronic properties of materials, which range from inorganic crystalline, amorphous semiconductors, metals, and their nanostructures to organic materials, bio functional groups, and solutions. While my research interests are primarily in the fundamental physics of materials, they have always been inspired by the needs for sustainable energy and environment, technology leadership, and national security. Recent work includes (1) defect control in low-cost solar cell materials, (2) dynamics of water splitting, (3) physics of ultrafast phase change memory, (4) understanding the growth of high-quality topological insulators, (5) physics behind nano-catalysis, (6) emerging phenomena at the interface between superconductor and semiconductor or dielectric oxide, and (7) exotic two-dimensional materials beyond graphene. I have published about 280 peer reviewed papers with high impact to the fields (citations >11,000, Hirsch Index = 56).

Selected Publications:

1. X.-B. Li, et al., “Role of electronic excitation in the amorphization of Ge-Sb-Te alloys”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 015501 (2011).

2.  Y.-H. Kim, K. Kim, and S. B. Zhang, “First-principles calculation of thermodynamic stability of acids and bases under pH environment: A microscopic pH theory”, J. Chem. Phys. 136, 134112 (2012).

3. D. West, Y. Y. Sun, H. Wang, J. Bang, and S. B. Zhang, “Native defects in second-generation topological insulators: Effect of spin-orbit interaction on Bi2Se3”, Phys. Rev. B 86, 121201(R) (2012).

4. Y. Li, et al., “Dirac Fermions in strongly-bound graphene systems”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 206802 (2012).

5. X. Gao, Z. Wei, V. Meunier, Y. Sun, S. B. Zhang, “Opening a large band gap for graphene by covalent addition”, Frontiers Article, Chem. Phys. Lett. 555, 1 (2013).

6. J. Bang, et al., “Regulating Energy Transfer of Excited Carriers and the case for excitation-induced hydrogen dissociation on hydrogenated graphene”, PNAS 110, 908 (2013).

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