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Nishina Asia Award 2020
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Nishina Asia Award 2020

The Nishina Asia Award has been established in 2012 for an outstanding achievement by young Asian scientist in the field of basic physics.


Ying Jiang (Boya Distinguished Professor, International Center for Quantum Materials, School of Physics, Peking University, Beijing, China) received the 2020 Nishina Asia Award for his seminal contributions to the understanding of the structure and dynamics of interfacial water on the atomic scale.

Water is one of the most familiar materials existing around us, and it has decisive roles for the evolution of life on the earth. Nevertheless, our understanding of the nature of water is far from satisfactory, and many challenges remain. One key issue to resolve is the property of the hydrogen bond (the importance of which could be understood by considering, e.g., the hydrogen bonds in DNA, etc.), where the quantum mechanical effects of hydrogen atoms play significant roles. This is in contrast to the case of heavier atoms, for which the Born-Oppenheimer approximation has often been successfully applied.

The nuclear quantum effects on the strength of hydrogen bond have been investigated by experimentally studying the structure and dynamics of protons in water (or ice), in combination with theories and simulations. Experimental methods that have been advanced by researchers around the world include spectroscopy, neutron scattering, scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), and atomic-force microscopy (AFM); consequently, the frontier of the physics of water has been expanded. Dr. Ying Jiang has steadily and ingeniously continued to improve accuracies of various experimental methods (such as tip-enhanced inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy based on STM, and high resolution imaging with a noncontact AFM with a CO-terminated tip). With these dependable experimental methods, he has measured directly what has been imagined by simulations and has given firm bases for the expanding areas of research of water.

Some of the highlights of Dr. Ying Jiang's achievements are listed as follows: he made a quantitative assessment of nuclear quantum effects on the strength of a single hydrogen bond formed at a water-salt interface, using tip-enhanced inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy based on STM. Observing the hydrogen-bonding strength with high accuracy, combined with quantum simulations, he found that the anharmonic quantum fluctuations of hydrogen nuclei influences the strength of hydrogen bonds [1]. He also achieved atomic-resolution imaging of ion hydrates. He illustrated the microscopic structures of Na + hydrates at interfaces and discovered a magic-number effect on the transport of ion hydrate [2]. The fact that the ion transport at interface is influenced by the number of water molecules will have impact in the future in a wide range of technologically and biologically relevant fields. Very recently, he has successfully grown 2D bilayer hexagonal ice on a hydrophobic Au surface and imaged the 2D ice growth at the edges with atomic resolution by using noncontact AFM with a CO-terminated tip [3]. He has proposed different dynamics in the growth for zigzag and armchair edges. This will strongly stimulate the studies of materials in confined spaces. It can be concluded that these innovative works opened up a new area of science of water and will have wider impact in the future.

In addition to the international attention he has received for his scientific achievements, he has been successful in establishing his group at his institute and has fostered young students and researchers. Based on his scientific achievements, his leadership in expanding the research field and his nurturing of young researchers, Dr. Ying Jiang has been chosen to receive the 2020 Nishina Asia Award.


[1] J. Guo, J.-T. L체, Y. Feng, J. Chen, J. Peng, Z. Lin, X. Meng, Z. Wang, X.-Z. Li, E.-G. Wang, Y. Jiang, "Nuclear quantum effects of hydrogen bonds probed by tip-enhanced inelastic electron tunneling", Science 352, 321 (2016).
[2] J. Peng, D. Cao, Z. He, J. Guo, P. Hapala, R. Ma, B. Cheng, J. Chen, W.-J. Xie, X.-Z. Li, P. Jel챠nek, L.-M. Xu, Y.-Q. Gao, E.-G. Wang, Y. Jiang, "The effect of hydration number on the interfacial transport of sodium ions", Nature 557, 701 (2018).
[3] R. Ma, D. Cao, C. Zhu, Y. Tian, J. Peng, J. Guo, J. Chen, X.-Z. Li, J. S. Francisco, X.-C. Zeng, L.-M. Xu, E.-G. Wang, Y. Jiang, "Atomic imaging of edge structure and growth of a two-dimensional hexagonal ice", Nature 577, 60 (2020).


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