Monash Engineer one of most cited researchers in the world

Qiaolong Bao

Associate Professor Qiaoliang Bao tops a global list for his influence as a world-class researcher in materials science and engineering.

Associate Professor Qiaoliang Bao has been recognised as one of the world’s most influential researchers.

The Materials Science and Engineering researcher was recognised alongside 21 Monash academics for his influence across multiple fields in the 2018 Highly Cited Researchers list. Released last month by Clarivate Analytics, the list celebrates world-class researchers who consistently rank in the top one percent of cited papers for their field. This is the first year the list celebrated cross-field researchers who hold substantial influence across several disciplines rather than one specific field.

Associate Professor Bao’s work touches on everything from low-energy electronics and nanomaterials to light detection and modulation. His research has been published in over 170 peer-reviewed publications, including prestigious journals such as Nature, Nature Photonics, Nature Chemistry, Nature Communications and Advanced Materials. He has also guest edited for a number of special journal editions, including the IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics and Optical Materials Express.

His most recent paper was published in the October edition of Nature, the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal. Associate Professor Bao’s research explores the development of new materials for use in nanophotonics, a rapidly expanding field of optics and materials. Unlike conventional optics such as lenses and microscopes, where the focus or direction of light is limited to the wavelength, nanophotonics can guide and work with light at the nanoscale. This means optical devices like lasers and transistors can be miniaturised. This has huge implications for a wide range of technologies, from speedy, energy-efficient data transmission to ultra-thin solar cells, which not only work better when light is absorbed close to the surface but also cost less to produce.

Associate Professor Bao’s Nature study investigates the use of a naturally occurring nanomaterial called van der Waals crystal to develop new forms of polaritons, a type of quasiparticle, for use in nanophotonics.

Weiliang Ma, one of Associate Professor Bao’s students working on the paper, said the findings are exciting.

“Once again we have demonstrated that nature is more beneficial for us than we thought,” he said. “The future of nanophotonics was once considered to be in the realisation of artificial materials, but this study and others in the past few years have demonstrated that, in many cases, the best approach for finding advanced materials is to look among the vast array of natural materials.”

The most exciting discovery about the research, said Associate Professor Bao, is that it reveals how useful these naturally occurring polaritons can be.

“[They] open the door to unprecedented nanophotonic device functionalities, such as directional strong light-matter interactions, integrated flat optics and nanoscale directional energy transfer, for applications ranging from bio-sensing to quantum nanophotonics.

“The study of polaritons in natural layered materials is a vibrant area of research at the vanguard of physics, materials science and engineering,” Associate Professor Bao said. “We believe this work will encourage other scientists to continue to unfold novel effects in other classes of quantum materials.”

You can find the full list of Monash University academics to feature in the Highly Cited Researchers list here. Associate Professor Bao’s paper, ‘In-plane anisotropic and ultra-low-low polaritons in natural van der Waal’s crystal’, can be accessed here.