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Young PolyU scientist lauded in MIT Technology Review Innovators Under 35 Asia Pacific 2023

3 Nov 2023

Awards and Achievements

Dr Kathy K. Leng, Assistant Professor of Department of Applied Physics at PolyU (centre) has been honoured by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Review as one of the “Innovators Under 35” in the Asia Pacific region in 2023.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) Assistant Professor Dr Kathy K. LENG from the Department of Applied Physics, has been named by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Review as one of the “Innovators Under 35” (TR35) in the Asia Pacific region in 2023. This prestigious recognition highlights Dr Leng’s outstanding achievements and advancements in science and technology innovation.

Dr Leng is actively engaged in research focused on discovering new physics in the emerging field of molecularly thin 2D hybrid perovskites. She has developed a set of nanotechnology tools and methods for investigating these materials at the molecular level and harnessing their potential for multifunctional smart device applications. Currently, her team is focusing on the large-scale growth of molecularly thin 2D hybrid perovskite films and exploring their novel spintronic device applications.

She is the first scholar to observe the atomic structure of molecularly thin hybrid perovskites and correlate it to their optoelectronic properties. She discovered that very thin perovskites undergo structural relaxation, resulting in changes to their optical properties, which can be reversibly controlled by light or strain. This breakthrough has enabled her to fabricate the first monolayer perovskite photodetector that converts light to electricity with very high efficiency. The capability to tune the optoelectronic properties of these materials through external stimuli enables applications in intelligent and multifunctional devices. This research outcome will play a significant role in advancing the field of flexible optoelectronics and fundamental physics in the future.

Dr Leng said, “Throughout my research journey, I have been inspired and encouraged by my peers and senior colleagues. Some of them have served as my mentor and role model, while others have collaborated with me and provided advice. Being part of this supportive and collaborative research network gives me much inspiration and encouragement. Recognition through impactful publications, grants, and conference presentations also spurs me on to work harder.”

Based on her niche area of molecularly thin 2D hybrid perovskites, Dr Leng has recently received several awards in recognition for her outstanding achievements, including the Excellent Young Scientist Fund (Hong Kong and Macau) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China in 2023. She was also the recipient of a Young Innovative Researcher Award 2023 from PolyU.

Prof. Christopher CHAO, Vice President (Research and Innovation) of PolyU, said, “PolyU has consistently dedicated itself to nurturing exceptional young scientists, providing ample resources to cultivate a vibrant environment for innovation and technology, and advocating for groundbreaking research. We take great pride in honouring PolyU’s talented scholars as they shine globally through their remarkable scientific research capabilities and impactful contributions.”

MIT Technology Review identifies the TR35 annually from diverse technical fields, including biotechnology and medicine, energy and material, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and telecommunications, and intelligent manufacturing. This recognition is given to 35 top-notch young innovators who have demonstrated significant impact, leading capabilities, and ground-breaking achievements in their respective research areas.

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