Xiaohang Li, assistant professor of electrical engineering in the University’s Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Science and Engineering Division.
Li, who came to KAUST in February 2016, focuses his interdisciplinary research activities on the investigation of the growth, simulation, fabrication and characterization of III-nitride structures for next-generation devices. Devices of particular interest include LED, lasers, solar cells, transistors and sensors. Due to the excellent properties of III-nitrides, these devices are expected to become the enabling technologies to revolutionize the energy, communication, biochemical, biomedical and data storage industries, among others.
"Some of my projects are 'blue-chip’ with specific goals, and the others are ‘blue-sky’—those bear some risks but have huge returns if successful," Li noted. “Because of the novelty and versatility of the III-nitride semiconductor, a very large research ‘playground’ has been formed. Some fellow KAUST faculty members, including Professors Boon
Iman Roqan, are also working in this area. My group collaborates with them, but we focus more on the ultraviolet LED and lasers that are critical for water treatment, food safety, biochemical sensing and covert communication. Some of them are strategic areas in the Kingdom and around the world.”
Li chose KAUST as the next stepping stone in his professional and personal development for a number of reasons.
“I was attracted to the University because KAUST offers strong financial support so that I can spend sufficient meaningful time advising students and discussing ideas. Saudi Arabia is also transforming into a modern society, leading to numerous opportunities—I have witnessed a similar process in China since the 1980s, with huge opportunities generated for the people. KAUST is also such a beautiful place, with the Red Sea just steps away—the campus is perfectly designed, making commuting, living and working a great pleasure.”
Li noted that although KAUST is a research university, “the teaching aspect is very important, as it helps students learn knowledge necessary for their research. In my role as an academic advisor, I have witnessed the students in my group growing and becoming more capable researchers and mature human beings. These experiences give me with joy and a sense of accomplishment as a faculty member.”
“My time at KAUST has been a blessing,” Li added. “Every day I am learning new ideas and knowledge from discussions, seminars and conferences on campus. I have also had ample opportunities to travel to different conferences and institutions to build academic connections and collaborations.”