For their seminal breakthroughs in the discovery of high-temperature superconducting materials and systematic advancements in elevating the transition temperature.
Superconductivity, the remarkable phenomenon of conducting electric current with zero resistance and complete diamagnetism in quantum materials, offers immense potential for applications in energy transmission, transportation, computation and communication. Traditionally, superconductivity has been observed at extremely low temperatures (<-230 °C) in most materials. The discovery of high transition temperature (Tc) superconducting materials has significantly propelled these applications, unveiling fundamental and captivating physical mechanisms.
As leaders of this international pursuit, Zhongxian Zhao and Xianhui Chen have played pivotal roles. Two primary families of high Tc materials have emerged: Cuprate superconductors and Iron-based superconductors. In the Cuprate family of high Tc materials, Zhao Zhongxian led a team that independently discovered the first superconducting material above the liquid nitrogen temperature. In the Iron-based family of high Tc materials, Xianhui Chen's group was the first to raise the transition temperature above the McMillan limit, confirming the unconventional nature of these materials. Additionally, Zhongxian Zhao's group holds the distinction of achieving the highest transition temperature in bulk samples. Notably, both Zhao and Chen conducted systematic studies to unravel the underlying physical mechanisms of high Tc materials, positioning themselves at the forefront of superconductor research for several decades.
Zhongxian Zhao was born in Liaoning, China in 1941, graduated from the Department of Technical Physics of the University of Science and Technology of China in 1964.
Xianhui Chen was born in Hunan, China in 1963, and received his Ph.D. in the University of Science and Technology of China in 1992.