Professor Wang Zuankai, PolyU Associate Vice President (Research and Innovation) and Chair Professor of Nature-Inspired Engineering, has been honoured among the ten winners of the 2023 Falling Walls Science Breakthroughs of the Year award in the Engineering and Technology category. His innovation on structured thermal amour is recognised with the accolade of “Breaking the Wall to the Leidenfrost Effect”.


When the temperature surpasses the Leidenfrost point, a continuous vapour layer forms between the solid and the liquid, leading to a reduction in heat transfer due to increased thermal resistance. Finding an efficient method for cooling hot surface has been a persistent challenge within thermal engineering and materials science.


This long-standing challenge first discovered in 1756 was fundamentally solved by Professor Wang’s research “Inhibiting the Leidenfrost effect above 1,000°C for sustained thermal cooling”, published in Nature in 2022. His breakthrough opens up many promising applications, especially in the highly efficient cooling of electronic devices, data centres, and nuclear power plants.


The annual award from the Berlin-based Falling Walls Foundation recognises the most impactful recent discoveries in science and society worldwide.