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Zhigang Wu (Postdoctoral Associate, 2002-2006) Selected To Receive Early Career Research Award

Former Geophysical Laboratory Postdoctoral Associate, Zhigang Wu, was chosen for a prestigious U.S. Department of Energy 2011 Early Career Research Award. This program aims to strengthen America's scientific workforce by providing incentives for scientists to focus on mission research areas that are a high priority for the Department of Energy and the Nation. Zhigang’s proposal entitled “Quantum Mechanical Simulations of Complex Nanostructures for Photovoltaic Applications” was chosen as one of 65 selectees out of 1,150 proposals submitted.

During his time at the Geophysical Laboratory, Zhigang worked with Ronald Cohen on first-principles predictions of properties of ferroelectrics. He examined weighted density approximations and then developed a new density functional that greatly improved computed properties of ferroelectric materials, which is now widely used. He also predicted a morphotropic phase boundary in PbTiO3 under pressure (Phys. Rev. Lett., 95, 037601 (2005)), later confirmed by his colleagues (M. Ahart et al, Nature 451, 545-548 (2008)). He also collaborated on other work, including hard superconducting nitrides, and coauthored 15 papers as a postdoc at Carnegie.

Zhigang is currently Assistant Professor at the Colorado School of Mines and specializes in research on nano-materials: electronic structures and synthesis, excitation properties: photoemission and optical absorption, energy conversion: photovoltaics based on nano-materials, high-pressure physics and thermodynamics, and computational methodology.

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