Video by Duan group postdoc is among the top 50 videos in Nature’s “science in shorts” competition

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Dr Zhong Wan, a postdoctoral researcher in the Duan group, has found an engaging way to explain his research to the public through sandwich making. 

His fun 1-minute video explaining how to pile layers of 2D materials without them tipping over is among the top 50 in the journal Nature’s competitive 2022 “Science in Shorts” science communication challenge. 

The video was produced by Zhong and the other two postdoctoral researchers Dr. Chengzhang Wan and Dr. Qi Qian in the Duan group.

Dr. Zhong Wan is currently a postdoctoral research scholar. He joined Professor Xiangfeng Duan’s group in the department of chemistry and biochemistry in 2018. His research interests include nanoscaled materials and device engineering, and the related quantum properties in novel material systems.

The video describes his innovative way to synthesize high-order superlattices from van der Waals (vdW) heterostructures, a material made by stacking various 2D materials together through vdW interaction. This approach was previously published in Nature

“Cooking and doing experiments shared a lot of things in common, and I like both of them.” Zhong said. “I was thinking about how to film the video while wondering what to eat for my dinner, so I came up with this idea to solve those two problems together.”

In his video, Zhong uses two ways of making sandwiches to explain the different synthesis of superlattice. The traditional making of 2D material is similar to stacking a handful of ingredients such as lettuce, tomatoes and meats all together into the sandwich, which makes it easily collapse when the food becomes too much. Alternatively, when Zhong lays the ingredients flat and rolls the whole thing up in a burrito fashion, the sandwich is well organized and highly packed. This is essentially the key idea of Zhong’s research: By capillary-force-driven rolling-up process, a high-order superlattice structure can be easily synthesized with varied material composition and dimension, whereas this would still remain a challenge for the traditional approach as the thickness of the material increases. Such superlattices open a vast degree of freedom to combine very different materials at the atomic scale by design, and could offer a versatile platform for exploring quantum information science.

“The public are the beneficiary and benefactor of our research. When the public understands better what we are doing, it will be easier for our research to be put into practice.” Zhong commented on the importance of science communication to the public. “When everyone gains the common sense of quantum information technology, and understands the world with quantum physics, there will be a boom of a vast variety of creative thought and ideas, which can push the development of technology into a new era.”

Congratuations, Zhong!

Article by Zhuoying Lin (Duan Group), UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Lin is a chemistry graduate student and science writer who joined our program in Fall 2021.  Read more of Lin’s UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry articles here.