What is your motivation to be a scientist? This question has been lingering in my mind during my student career.
Of course, the answer is plenty, varying from person to person. I have met many scientists through the years. They shared their personal stories. I have concluded the reasons that attract them in their chosen subject are money, social statue, a raw love, to be most intelligent, a sense of duty and so on, and most commonly, a combination of them. The most impressive one for me is “curiosity”. I got it from a young scientist by an online investigation. He describes science is the real game. Our task is to understand the nature due to its lots of mysteries.
So what’s your motivation? I had been seeking my answer for several years. At the first day I came to Peking University (China) to become a master student. I told to myself: I would be a young scientist, not a student anymore. Though at that time, I still have no idea why I chose the major, organic synthesis for advanced material. And my objective is just to get to the top! After several months’ exploration, I obtained three kinds of organic materials. They exhibited strong emission under ultraviolet light. It is a shock when I first saw their charming fluorescence, green, yellow and red. At that moment, I realized science is really interesting because it can create a lot of unknown materials by ourselves, which may be the fascination of science.
There is an interesting analogy I heard from my supervisor. He described organic synthesis as cooking, ingredients as reactants, adding the oil and a little salt as catalyst. Whether to add the water as solvent depends on which kinds of dishes you want, like the synthetic method, solid-phase or solution-phase synthesis (for soup). And after heating for a while, you can get a tasty dish. This vivid metaphor encourages me to create more novel materials. We can cook a variety of delicious dishes, isn’t it easy to create a lot of interesting materials that are useful for human?
Luckily, in this summer I joined a program and studied in HZB for two months. My project is to design and synthesize the new cathode material for aqueous Zn-Ion batteries. This is a brand-new research field for me. We grafted the active materials to a polymer backbone bearing ionically charged electron-withdrawing groups. After obtaining the polymers, I fabricate it as electrode materials in Zn-Ion batteries, using water as electrolyte and test their properties. When I saw the first battery I fabricated, the question of motivation to do science I explored emerged in my mind again. Before I came here, I thought perhaps the fascination and curiosity. Staring at my battery, it is small with only 2 cm diameter but can store large amount of energy. I imagined I can use it in my electric device thought it didn’t work, and the higher capacity is required. Now, there is still something puzzling me in the experiment but the motivation to do science is clear. That’s the strength of science. Science can create a lot to help human and refresh our word like the creation of electric vehicles and electric aircrafts.
So what’s your motivation to be a scientist?