HKU Engineering Professor Alfonso Ngan receives the prestigious Guanghua Engineering Science and Technology Prize from the Chinese Academy of Engineering

Professor Alfonso Ngan, a distinguished academic in materials science and engineering at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), has been named an awardee of the 13th Guanghua Engineering Science and Technology Prize by the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Professor Ngan is HKU’s Acting Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Kingboard Professor in Materials Engineering, and Chair Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering.

The Guanghua Engineering Science and Technology Prize is regarded as the highest award in the field of Engineering Science and Technology in China. Established in 1996, it is presented biennially to honour outstanding Chinese engineers and scientists who have made outstanding achievements and significant contributions in the field of engineering technology and engineering management.

The award is highly competitive. This year, a total of 41 scientists from all over the country including Hong Kong and Macao are awarded. They were chosen from among 296 eligible candidates following stringent nomination, screening and review procedures.

Professor Ngan feels deeply honoured for receiving the award, he said: “To be awarded this prestigious prize in the engineering profession in China is a big encouragement to me. It will serve as a constant reminder to me that I should aim high to achieve more breakthrough in both basic and applied research.”

Professor Ngan is an expert in engineering materials, especially in crystal defects and their modeling, as well as nano-mechanics and their applications in biological systems. He has solved key issues in the deformation mechanism of materials on microscopic scale, i.e. the mechanical properties of metals are determined by their crystal microstructures, while traditional understanding of mechanical properties is based on studies from large pieces of metals, new phenomena and behaviour arise in micron-sized metals finding applications in micro-electromechanical systems. Professor Ngan’s work has contributed significantly to the understanding of such unusual behaviour. He has also developed a new method for simulating the plastic deformation of metals based on the dynamics of the density function of dislocations. This method can handle all types and quantities of dislocations to improve the efficiency and reliability of dislocation dynamics simulation, which will guide the development of advanced materials.

In applied research, Professor Ngan has developed a novel “rate jump” test method for nanomechanical testing, which has been widely used by other researchers and is now being developed into a Chinese National Standard. In addition, he has developed a new type of actuating materials driven by visible light and electrochemical signals, which can be used to drive insect-scale robots. Professor Ngan has applied for a US patent and is conducting applied research with industrial partners to develop these materials for applications.

Professor Ngan’s research-related honours include the Rosenhain Medal of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in the U.K., the Hong Kong Croucher Foundation Senior Research Fellowship, and elected Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences (FHKEng). He has published more than 230 SCI (Science Citation Index) papers, and has been invited to give keynote lectures at major materials science conferences in North America, Europe and Asia, for over 70 times.