Allowing More People to Fall in Love with “Beautiful Chemistry”

The invisible M13 bacteriophage virus, through genetic modification becomes an important material to improve lithium battery performances.

Any damaged spacecraft, through special composite material can self-identify the damage and quickly repair itself. 

An ordinary pill can, through a new delivery mechanism correctly follow the timing, quantity and orientation which allow drug use to become more accurate and convenient.

This fascinating knowledge, skills and creativity are all jointly initiated by Professor Jin Yong from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tsinghua University, who also is an academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering, with other universities  such as Nanjing Technology University, East China University of Science and Technology, and Tai Yuan University of Technology. This is part of a series called “Chemistry and Chemical Engineering: a career of discovery”. “Virus Manufacturing”, “Composite Materials”, “Smart Drugs” are part of a 10 short films each 10 minutes long series which shows the wonders of the chemical world and the magic of science and technology.

What prompted Academician Jin Yong and others to start this series is due to their common fear and concern over a “shortage” of talents in the chemical engineering industry. “In fact, economic development and modern society are inseparable from chemistry and chemical products,” said Academician Jin. Clothing, fertilizer, pesticide, cement, rubber, energy… these all came from the chemical industry. Moreover, mankind needs to move towards clean renewable energy, which requires high-performance materials and advanced manufacturing which is dependent on the development of chemistry and chemical engineering. Academician Jin said, “This might be a bit exaggerated but you can say that what God didn't give us, chemistry and chemical engineering did.”

Initiated by Academician Jin Yong in 2009, 43 academicians jointly issued a proposal titled “The revitalization of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Education”. Starting in early 2010, Academician Jin Yong along with other academicians and experts from dozens of universities and research institutions participated in the preparation and production of this series of short science films. They started from scratch and after trial and error; they held seminars and conferences and made countless changes to the design, content and layout of the materials.

In May 2016, films and supporting materials were finally published by Tsinghua University Press. In the short films, chemistry and chemical engineering technology are depicted through OLED displays and other cutting-edge technology with vivid animation, performers and other attractive forms, which captured the interests of the young people. Academician Jin Yong said: “We hope that through these clips, the most advanced and cutting-edge chemical engineering technology are much easier for young people to digest. Hopefully they are able to see the beauty of chemistry so that they are more interested in studying and engaging in research and turning it into their profession.”

20,000 copies of this material will be distributed for free to high schools and colleges around the country. Moreover, Academician Jin Yong is still busy planning more future projects. He plans to shoot ten more topics. He said: “I have been working in the field of chemistry and chemical engineering for 57 years and I hope that more and more young people are able to fall in love with this subject. I hope that they will actively participate in this field and make further contributions to the industry.”

Note: This article is adapted from Ms. Wang Lei’s article “Allowing more young people to fall in love with ‘Beautiful chemistry’ - ‘Exploring Beautiful Chemistry’ series of short science films, interview with Jin Yong” published on the website Tsinghua News on May 25 of 2016.


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