Zhijun Zhang: Always striving for better research practices

In the pilot base of the HENU Engineering Research Center for Nanomaterials in Jiyuan, there is an old man with gray hair, who often joins researchers in debugging equipment and discussing experiments. He is Zhijun Zhang, a professor of Henan University (HENU) and the founder of the pilot base.

Zhijun Zhang served as the dean of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering in 2003. In order to promote the transformation of scientific research results of nanomaterials into engineering application technologies that can be industrialized, he gave up his position at the time and led the team to Jiyuan to build the pilot base of the HENU Engineering Research Center for Nanomaterials.

"We had to work shirtless in summer and use freezing water in winter. If there was no condition for a dinner, we had to rely on instant noodles. We also worked as bricklayers and masons at that time". In Zhang's eyes, things were difficult, but they were passionate.

Developed for 19 years, the initial pilot base now has become an advanced integrated innovation platform for the small-scale experiment, pilot experiment, and engineering verification of nanomaterials. That marks the complete formation of the transformation system of scientific and technological achievements, which is characterized with the process "basic research - technology development - industrialization". The system greatly helps with the transformation of nanomaterials from scientific research to engineering technology. Zhang likes to stay at the base, which has witnessed his twenty years of efforts. He always holds deep affection for everything there.

Zhang said, "We provide technologies for enterprises. At the same time, we have fostered a large number of skilled personnel. We work to help the intellectual talents engage in technology application, make the technical talents more professional, as well as promote the application of laboratory technology in engineering, and the industrialization of engineering technology".

At present, the pilot base owns more than 80 patented products, 32 of which have been successfully transformed. There are 15 enterprises adopting the original incubated technology of HENU. In 2019, HENU cooperated with Jiyuan City in building the Jiyuan Nanomaterials Industrial Park.

Zhang has engaged in scientific research for 40 years since 1982 when he served as a teacher in HENU after graduating from the Chemistry Department. Under his leadership, his research group won the second prize of the National Technology Invention Award in 2019, with the project "Self-repairing Nano-lubrication and Anti-wear Materials". The pilot test base built by him has greatly contributed to Henan's pursuit of becoming a center for the large-scale preparation of nanomaterials and the development of application engineering technology.

Today, Zhijun Zhang, who is over sixty years old, is still working hard in the front line of scientific research every day. "For me, scientific research is not only a job but a mission. Striving is a duty for us researchers, and I will keep going", he said.

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