Academic Profile : Faculty

Zhao Yang.jpg picture
Assoc Prof Zhao Yang
Associate Professor, School of Materials Science & Engineering
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Dr. Zhao was selected from the best of Chinese physics students to pursue PhD studies in the US by the prestigious CUSPEA program sponsored by Nobel Laureate Tsung-Dao Lee. His Bachelor of Science degree was awarded by the Zhejiang University, and his PhD degree, University of California at San Diego. After a brief stay in the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, Dr. Zhao took up a postdoctoral position at the Rochester Theory Center (headed by Prof. Joseph Eberly) in the University of Rochester, upstate New York, where he worked with Prof. Shaul Mukamel in the Chemistry department and Prof. Bob Knox in the Physics department. Prior to joining the Nanyang Technological University, he also held positions in the University of Hong Kong that include Research Assistant Professorship and Honorary Assistant Professorship.
Miniaturization of electronic and mechanical devices over the past century has brought immeasurable impact onto human lives. Commercial microelectromechanical systems have reached micron scales, and bona fide molecular apparatuses began to emerge setting the stage for upcoming integrated nanoelectromechanics. Dr. Zhao and coworkers systematically investigate carbon-nanotube-based oscillators, bearings and rotators via molecular dynamics simulation in order to establish their optimal operating conditions and to facilitate function-oriented designs. In addition, particular attention is paid to utilization of nanomachinery devices as nanolabs to study energy exchanges among various degrees of freedom, ergodicity on energy surfaces, and equipartition as systems relax, and to test fundamental hypotheses of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.

The advent of ultrafast femtosecond laser spectroscopy brings about intense research interest in relaxation dynamics of photo-excited states in liquids and solids. Newly-arrived technological capabilities to control femtosecond pulse durations and down-to-one-hertz bandwidth resolutions provide novel probes on vibrational dynamics and excitation relaxation. Dr. Zhao and coworkers formulate time-dependent polaronic wave functions that facilitate microscopic modelling of photo-generated excitation relaxation and realistic computation of various third-order optical response functions, and help to achieve a satisfactory comparison between theory and experiment.

Carbon nanotubes are attractive candidates for a variety of applications thanks to their remarkable physical, chemical, and mechanical properties. Optical absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy measurements have become an important tool for structure-based characterization and DNA-assisted manipulation of carbon nanotubes. Dr. Zhao and coworkers establish visual, intuitive connections between optical absorption line shapes and their underlying nanotube structures, which are scrutinized by more sophisticated semi-empirical and DFT calculations.
  • Spectroscopic manifestation of femtosecond dynamics at conical intersections