Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Shengxi Huang was awarded a grant from the Welch Foundation to further her research in “Unveiling the charge interaction between molecules and topological surface states.”
The objective of this investigation is to gain insight into Weyl semimetal nanostructures and how they interact with molecules, with a particular interest in the novel quantum material's anomalous charge and energy transfer, electronic excitation, and circular dichroism. The knowledge generated from this study will help design and fabricate strategies for pioneering the use of topological quantum materials in chemistry, due to their topologically-protected surface states, which are resistant to surface imperfections and defects in comparison to conventional materials.
This project cuts across the boundaries of traditionally distant disciplines, topological materials, surface chemistry, and plasmonics, through which we will open a new avenue of chemistry, said Huang.
The prestigious Welch Foundation offers substantial grants to established, tenured or tenure-track professors based in Texas. With a minimum of $100,000 to be awarded per year, the Welch Foundation is one of the country's largest private funding sources for fundamental chemical research.
In 2017, Huang earned her PhD degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following that, she completed postdoctoral research at Stanford University. Later, Huang worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and the Materials Research Institute at Pennsylvania State University. She joined the Rice faculty in July of 2022 as part of the Rice Quantum Initiative and leads the SCOPE (Sensing, Characterization, and OPtoElectronics) Lab in the ECE Department at Rice. She has earned multiple awards, including an NSF CAREER Award and an AFOSR Young Investigator Award.
Huang seeks to advance our understanding of light-matter interactions of quantum materials and nanostructures, as well as create new quantum optical platforms and biochemical sensing technologies. Her research focuses on studying optical and electronic properties of novel materials like 2D materials and Weyl semimetals, building new biochemical sensing methods applicable to medical diagnosis, and exploring new quantum optical effects and quantum sensing.