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PolyU Prof Jianhua Hao Secures Key Program Funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China

27 Sep 2022

A project led by PolyU Prof Jianhua Hao, Chair Professor of Materials Physics and Devices in the Department of Applied Physics, has been successfully funded by the Key Program of NSFC.

The Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) announced the application results of the 2022 Exercise in September 2022. A PolyU’s research project titled “Multifunctional ultrathin ferroelectric integrated materials and devices towards neuromorphic computing and human visual system”, led by Prof Jianhua Hao, Chair Professor of Materials Physics and Devices in the Department of Applied Physics, has been successfully funded by the Key Program of NSFC. In this project, Prof Hao's team will collaborate with researchers from Nankai University and Sichuan Normal University to address the key scientific issue of achieving a multi-mode neuromorphic device.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the frontier field with significant societal impact, and AI chips are the key to developing intelligent systems and brain-like robots. Exploration of related new materials and devices is currently a hot spot and frontier of international scientific and technological focus. Ferroelectrics is a representative among smart materials, showing great potential in the field of brain-like devices.

On the basis of Prof Hao's internationally recognised works regarding ferroelectric manipulation of rare-earth-doped luminescence and ferroelectric optoelectronics, the project is to effectively integrate ferroelectric polarisation with multifunctional characteristics of electronic properties of semiconductor, photodetection and rare-earth ion luminescence. The developed materials and devices in this project will provide potential solutions for overcoming the development bottleneck of information technology. 

Based on the ultrathin ferroelectric films, the research team will construct multifunctional integrated materials and devices towards neuromorphic computing and artificial vision. The project will reveal the physical mechanism of rare-earth doping into ferroelectric ultrathin films and demonstrate a new concept of relevant devices used for logic operation, data processing and emulating the human visual system. The project will potentially break the barrier of neuromorphic computing restricted by the limited working mode through developing novel materials and devices. 

The research achievement can provide a novel strategy for developing AI chips and processing complex visual information. Particularly, multi-mode neural networks possess remarkable capabilities, which are expected to have increased technological and societal demand. The neural network based on the proposed ferroelectric synaptic devices is capable of performing logical computations and image recognition with high accuracy.    

Prof Hao is known internationally for his pioneering research on ferroelectric luminescence. As early as 2011, Prof Hao first introduced the concept of ferroelectric modulation to the field of rare-earth luminescence and provided experimental evidence, which has been verified by more than 100 research groups in at least 25 countries and extended to 9 kinds of rare-earth ion dopants to 40 ferroelectric material systems. In recent years, Prof Hao’s team has also achieved a series of original research results in piezoelectric and magnetic-induced luminescence. Primarily the term "Smart Phosphors" has been included in the “Phosphors Handbook”. Prof Hao and his team won the 2021 Natural Science Award in the Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (Science & Technology) by the Ministry of Education, P. R. China.

NSFC Key Program
According to NSFC, the Key Program supports researchers engaged in basic research to conduct in-depth, systematic and innovative research in orientations with a sound research basis or where new growth points of scientific disciplines might emerge so as to promote disciplinary development and breakthroughs in important areas or scientific frontiers. Key Program projects should make effective use of existing major scientific research bases at national and ministerial levels and conduct substantive international cooperation and exchange.

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