Zhou Jiadong: More than “Nature”

There is an outstanding professor at the School of Physics, Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT). He is committed to basic research, boldly innovates and makes breakthroughs, and produces high-level achievements. His student called him “the guiding light”. He inherits the family tradition, is determined to serve the country, and walks with the country. He is Professor Zhou Jiadong, a young teacher at the School of Physics, Beijing Institute of Technology. Today, let us approach Zhou Jiadong together and share his story.


“Why do needle-like shapes appear in the regularly arranged hexagonal unit cell structure?” At night, in the quiet campus of BIT, the A209 office of the Science Building was still brightly lit. Looking at the electron microscope image in his hand, Zhou fell into deep thought. Keen observation, endless perseverance, and the persistence to pursue the truth are the “natural state” of Professor Zhou when he conducts scientific research.

“Take the students’ business as your own. Since I choose to be a teacher, I must always think about the growth and development of the students.” “Teaching is the first priority of a teacher.” This is Zhou’s “natural state” when teaching and educating students.

The first college student in his hometown, the first graduate student, the first doctor who studied abroad, the first young scholar that published a paper in the Nature journal... Everything seemed to be natural and smooth during Zhou’s growth. However, what is behind this natural “nature” is Zhou Jiadong’s persistence and innovation in basic research, his deep understanding and infinite love for teaching and educating, and his persistence and indomitable pursuit of hard work in life...

“Open up wasteland and cultivate new fields”

“I see! This is a new structure that exists stably!” Zhou Jiadong has been studying two-dimensional materials with new physical properties for nearly ten years, and Zhou Jiadong is familiar with the structure and appearance of material materials under the electron microscope. Stable triangles, closely connected hexagons, staggered parallelograms... However, in an ordinary experiment, Zhou Jiadong captured a structural image different from the previous ones—a needle-like pattern. Was it by chance? Or did he find a new phenomenon? With these questions, Zhou Jiadong repeated the experiment many times, which turned out unchanged result!


Atomic structures of heterodimensional VS2-VS supercrystals

This was a whole new discovery! After many experiments, Zhou Jiadong determined that this was an unusual material superlattice structure configuration - he named it “heterodimensional superlattice”. The needle-like patterns are formed by staggered arrangement in a two-dimensional plane and one-dimensional linear space. “The atomic arrangement of the traditional superlattice structure is like a puff pastry, which is a layer of ‘puff pastry’ stacked on the top of each other; while the new structure realizes the perfect coupling of single-layer ‘puff pastry’ and ‘mustard silk’ at the atomic scale. As a result, under the electron microscope, we saw a needle-like pattern.” Talking about the discovery of the special structure, Zhou Jiadong was still very excited. The heterodimensional superlattice structure realizes the self-assembly of materials of different dimensions in a single unit cell, which breaks the international academic community’s understanding of the structure of matter.


Nature Published! BIT breaks through the traditional cognition of material structure with the discovery of heterodimensional superlattice! "

To explain the formation mechanism of this new physical phenomenon, it is necessary to go deep into the microscopic field, model from the atomic scale, and explain a series of characteristics such as atomic arrangement and bond coordination. After discovering the heterodimensional superlattice, Zhou Jiadong worked hard and quickly completed the analysis and interpretation of the theoretical mechanism and model structure. In August 2022, related results were published in the journal Nature.

“It’s like we drilled a new well, cultivated a new field, and created a new track. The discovery of the heterodimensional superlattice structure and the analysis of the coupling relationship of the model have opened a new door to the construction of new substances, the discovery of new physical properties, and the development of new paradigms. This realizes our country’s international leadership in related fields.” Zhou Jiadong said. Compared with traditional materials, the heterodimensional superlattice materials show completely different performance characteristics in terms of electromagnetism, optics, and mechanics, and the performance indicators can also be precisely adjusted according to actual needs. It has broad application prospects in many national key development directions and fields such as information sensor devices, aerospace, integrated circuits, etc.

“Teaching and educating are a sacred mission”


“Prof. Zhou is like a counselor in the Romance of Three Kingdoms. No matter what problems we encounter, as long as we ask him, he will definitely help us. He also likes to tell us about the history of the world and physics, and the frontiers of world science and technology, thus teaching us things that we can’t learn from textbooks.” After learning the “Frontiers of Nanoscience” taught by Zhou, Wang Yi, Wu Changfan, and other 2019 undergraduate students from the School of Physics, made two “personal exclusive” cards for Zhou Jiadong——This is a card that was recreated on the basis of the card in the game “Three Kingdoms”. Zhou Jiadong’s titles are “Counselor of the School of Physics” and “Talk about Things with Reason”. “This is the support and affirmation of the students for my teaching. I am very touched, and it also inspires me to pay more attention to the courses and respond to the trust of the students.” Zhou Jiadong laughed.



Cards made by students from the School of Physics for Zhou Jiadong

Seven days a week, from morning to night, as long as it is not necessary to go out, Zhou Jiadong will stay with the students, and there is an endless stream of students who come to him to discuss problems. “I am often in the office with the students, and they can always find me when they have questions.” Zhou Jiadong said frankly that it is not easy to train and educate students well while doing scientific research. Teachers are like candles. If you choose to be a teacher, you must be willing to contribute.

According to Wang Ping, a 2020 doctoral candidate, his supervisor Zhou Jiadong, has a “beacon-like light”. “One weekend, Prof. Zhou took turns answering questions for the students. When it was my turn, it was already very late. Prof. Zhou was exhausted and leaned against the dirty stove, but his answers were still patient, meticulous, and meticulous. At that moment, although Prof. Zhou was tired, in my eyes he was gorgeous. This scene is like a lighthouse by the sea. Whenever I want to give up, it always allows me to see the light of insistence.” This ordinary scene gave Wang Ping an indelible impression. After entering the research group for three years, Wang Ping, as the “big brother” of the research group, also passed on Zhou Jiadong’s dedication, set an example, and led the younger students to commit themselves to scientific research and make continuous progress.


“Teachers know the way, students are good at walking”, Zhou Jiadong summed up the training of graduate students in these nine words. The tutor is familiar with the frontier of the subject, has a wide range of knowledge and rich experience, understands methods, and is good at “orientation” and “topic selection”, “direction” and “teaching the method”; at the same time, the students are young, energetic, active in thinking, informal. They have more advantages in obtaining information and dealing with problems. “Before entering school, Prof. Zhou shared with me the materials he compiled during his studies, allowing me to learn relevant professional knowledge in advance and lay a solid foundation for research; when pursuing the Ph.D. degree, I get effective information more quickly and efficiently, and the ways and means to discover and solve problems are more diverse,” said Yang Yang, a 2021 doctoral student who has published high-level papers consecutively.


Network News Broadcast reported BIT teachers and students during the two sessions

“With General Secretary Xi Jinping at the helm, we are full of confidence in a better tomorrow for China. As a young teacher in college, I must keep in mind the teachings of General Secretary Xi Jinping-to build morality and cultivate people, and strive to cultivate more qualified builders and reliable successors of Chinese characteristic socialism for the party and the country in the new era.”On March 12, 2023, during the two sessions, CCTV’s “News Network” broadcast Zhou Jiadong’s adherence to “teaching and educating people” as a young educator. “Teaching and educating people is a sacred mission, and it is also an arduous responsibility. I have always urged myself to always think about the growth and development of students, and guide the direction for students to grow and become talents.” Zhou Jiadong said.

“Time Lives Up to the Fighters”

Yingshang, Fuyang City, Anhui Province is located on the shore of the Ying River and is the hometown of Guan Zhong. This small town, which has been out of poverty for only four years, is Zhou Jiadong’s hometown. “The year I was born was just in time for the country to popularize nine-year compulsory education. It was this good policy of the country that made me the person with the highest ‘education’ in the town.” Zhou Jiadong laughed.

In 2005, Zhou Jiadong became the “first college student” in his hometown. Since then, he has continued to study and gradually grown into a national-level young talent. The towering trees must have their roots; the waters of Huaishan must have their sources. In Zhou Jiadong’s growth and development process, the word “struggle” runs throughout the whole process.


Yingshang in Anhui Province

Zhou Jiadong inherited his family tradition and fought for the country. “My father was a soldier. In the 1960s and 1970s in the Tarim Basin of Xinjiang, he contributed to the construction of the country’s major strategic layout. After retiring from the army, he returned to his hometown to work as a farmer. Some people said it did not deserve, but he kept saying that farming is also a contribution to the country, and it is not a loss.” The family tradition has been passed on, and the spirit of hard work, simplicity, and sincerity in his father has always influenced Zhou Jiadong and planted the seeds of serving the country in his heart. At the end of 2020, he came to the School of Physics of Beijing Institute of Technology, driven by the country’s major needs, and striving to make China powerful through innovative achievements in the field of basic research.

Zhou Jiadong passed on the torch from generation to generation, teaching and educating people. Willing to contribute silently to the students is also the inheritance of a good teacher. “When I was in high school, my homeroom teacher had a broken leg and surgery on the cervical spine. When he needed rest the most, he didn’t want to delay our study progress. He still stood on the podium with a cane.” Passing on the torch, Unceasingly, Zhou Jiadong said that he will never forget the scene where the high school class teacher helped the students with a cane. Now he has become a glorious people’s teacher. He wants to be like a teacher and be selfless for the students Consecrate and persevere silently.

Walk with the country and forge ahead. After thirty years, Zhou Jiadong still has a clear image of the image of studying in his youth: “When I was a student, walking on mountain roads and lighting oil lamps were the norm in life. Now, thanks to the development and strength of the country, children can have public transportation when they go to school. Households have always-on lights, and conditions in all aspects have been significantly improved.” Walking out of the mountains, into the university, into the laboratory, into the world... Having felt the poverty of his childhood hometown, Zhou Jiadong cherishes the rich life now. He often said that he was very lucky to be able to walk with the country and forge ahead in the new era of strugglers.

Time does not fail the fighters, and the rivers take care of the shipper. Over the years, it has become “natural” for Zhou Jiadong to integrate scientific research into his life, and it has become “natural” to educate students. It is “natural” for people to work hard in the new era. With a firm look, Zhou strides forward.