Grace (Huili) Xing joins ECE faculty as Full Professor
Silicon-based semiconductors have been of primary importance to the electronics revolution of the past 50 years. Professor Grace Xing is working on what comes next. She is one of the leading experts on gallium nitride components and their many uses in a wide array of applications and she will soon be joining the faculty of Cornell Engineering. Xing will have a dual appointment in both the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Xing received her bachelor’s degree in physics from Peking University, which is a major Chinese research university located in Beijing. She earned a master’s degree in materials science and engineering from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. After her master’s, she went on for a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara. It was at Santa Barbara, while working with Umesh Mishra, Steve DenBaars, Jim Speck, Evelyn Hu, and Mark Rodwell, that Xing began developing her expertise in gallium nitride materials and devices as well as high-speed high-performance electronics in general.
In 2004, Xing joined the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where her lab developed a reputation for leading-edge research into electronic nanomaterials—specifically the gallium nitride family and two-dimensional crystals. In the last ten years, gallium nitride-based semiconductors have led directly to the lasers that read Blu-ray discs, energy-saving LED lights, and to the compact and more efficient base stations for wireless communications. One focus of Xing’s research has been to develop gallium nitride components to make power delivery hardware more efficient and robust. Another thrust of her research has been how best to use two-dimensional crystals to help realize better electronic switches for computation, and unlock the terahertz range of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Xing has been recognized by several groups for the quality and importance of her research. In 2008 she received a Young Investigator Award from AFOSR; in 2009 she was honored with a CAREER Award from the NSF; and in 2014 she was given a Young Scientist Award from the ISCS—making her one of only two women to ever receive this award.
Growing up in Wugang in Henan Province, China, Xing did not know what, specifically, she wanted to study. But by the time she got to Peking University her ambitions started to take shape. “While I was studying toward my B.S. in physics at Peking University I decided I wanted to be an engineer,” says Xing. “I was always wondering how stuff works, how one can, in real life, realize the boundary conditions used to solve a set of equations.”
Wugang is located near a large lake, surrounded by hills and mountains, so coming to Ithaca may feel a bit like coming home for Xing. “I am looking forward to hiking and sledding in the snow,” says Xing.
Xing says she decided to come to Cornell for several reasons: “the quality of the research, the quality of the teaching, the quality of my colleagues, and the quality of the students. I am very excited to continue my research into electronic materials and their applications.”