Su-Yuan Xie is in State Key Laboratory of Physical Chemistry of Solid Surfaces & Department of Chemistry at Xiamen University, China, and he works on carbon-based materials – especially fullerenes.
1. What made you want to be a chemist?
The term of “elements” is translated as “Yuan Su” in Chinese. Almost certainly because my first name (Su-Yuan) is simply the reverse form of “Yuan Su”, my classmates gave me the nickname of “chemical elements” since I was a little boy. To some extent, this chemistry-related nickname pushed me to study chemistry.
2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be and why?
I might have become a doctor, because I admire the people who cure disease and take care of patients. It is really excited to bring health and happiness to someone.
3. What are you working on now, and where do you hope it will lead?
I am working on synthesis of carbon-related materials, especially the fullerenes, a class of carbon cages with promising properties (such as electron acceptor) for photovoltaic application. Among various dreams, I hope that my work would bring more and more new structures of fullerene into the reality, and help people to find new electron acceptor materials used in future solar cells.
4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?
I admire Sir Isaac Newton very much. He is the greatest physicist for his seminal discovery about Law of Gravity. I am wondering how he could discover the Law of Gravity from such an inappreciable fact with an apple dropping onto the ground.
5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?
My last experience to perform experiment was in 2005 when I spent sabbatical year in Clemson University. The experiment was about the functionalization of boron nitride nanotubes.
6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one music album would you take with you?
I would take the Fortress Besieged by Chung-Shu Chien, and a piano music album by Richard Clayderman.
7. Which chemist would you like to see interviewed on Reactions – and why?
Lawrence T Scott at Boston College, for his systematic research on chemical synthesis of bowl-shaped hydrocarbons that are so beautiful and in principle useful.