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Jing Shi

Jing Shi
Production of Energy through Nanoscale Electronic Systems
As global demand for energy rapidly increases, transforming the way we generate, supply, transmit, store, and use energy will be one of the 21st century’s most critical scientific challenges. With the nation’s most talented scientists working together, can we accelerate the breakthroughs needed to secure a sustainable energy future in the United States?

Shi’s research project is among the 32 Energy Frontier Research Centers, receiving $12 million over four years from the Department of Energy to pursue fundamental advances in energy production, storage and use. With help from an interdisciplinary team of researchers from seven universities, “Spins and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems” (SHINES) will investigate several aspects of basic research integral to achieving significantly higher energy efficiencies in electronic devices.

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Q: What is SHINES and why is it important?
SHINES (Spins and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems)  is a Department of Energy funded energy frontier research center that focuses on spins and heat in nanoscale electronic systems. SHINES is staffed by researchers from seven different institutions that will investigate several aspects of basic research: new ultrathin films, nanostructured composites, high resolution imaging, the transport of electrical signals, heat and light. All of it will be studied, modeled and simulated in order to harvest energy more efficiently from nanotechnology.

Q: Why is collaboration important?
Collaboration is important because we are able to leverage different expertise and collaborate with industry leaders. The team is comprised of senior investigators and newer researchers – sixteen total – from seven institutions including UCR. From former center directors to NSF career grant awardees, we have work among a diverse group of professionals.  

Q: What does UCR bring to the team?
In my lab we make new materials that will be used by the team for the investigation. UCR has a very unique materials capability. Here we have a laser deposition tool called a laser molecular beam epitaxy that we use to make artificial materials that the center will use to study new phenomena.    

Q: What are some of the other universities you work with?
We work with researchers at John Hopkins University, UCLA, University of Texas Austin and others. UCR is the base for the center and is leading the efforts with eight principal investigators (PI) out of the sixteen.   

Q: How has leading the groups benefited your research?
My own research would greatly benefit from collaborating with leading scientists in the field. We share materials from UCR with the group and we get to work with students from other labs. We collaborate on theoretic understanding with theorists from University of Texas Austin to develop a model for our research. It is a very big collaborative project.

Q: What are your fundamental advances and what is your hope for you research?
The Department of Energy has asked that we focus on fundamental research. Our research goal is to synthesize new materials and make discoveries. We are looking for fundamental breakthroughs from new phenomena in new materials that relate electron spin to heat. We are at the frontier for this field of study.    

Q: How has UCR helped with your research?
Through previous funding provided by UCR, we acquired a laser deposition (laser molecular beam epitaxy) which is critical to demonstrating basic capabilities of UCR as part of the proposal for SHINES. In addition, UCR has many energetic researchers in this filed as well as a supportive administration that have made our research very successful. Finally, UCR has had a nano fabrication facility for many years which has made us an expert in this technology.

Q: How does your research affect the world?
We are concerned with fundamental problems associated with how we generate, conserve and save energy. We focus on the spin and heat in trying to leverage the spin degree of freedom in electrons to convert other forms of energy into electricity, such as heat, more efficiently. This will impact our energy production.