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Fan Zhang (Fed)


Fan Zhang is a Physicist at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. He specializes in multi-scale materials characterization using synchrotron-based scattering, diffraction, and imaging methods. His current research interests include:

• Synchrotron Characterization of Advanced Manufacturing Processes: As a NIST focus area, advanced manufacturing presents an opportunity to drive innovations in U.S. manufacturing and secure global leadership in technology, supply chain, and workforce development. The measurement challenges in advanced manufacturing processes are immense, often featuring far-from-equilibrium processing that demands new methods for measuring and quantifying the interactions between materials and processing technologies to understand the material-process-structure relationship. Fan’s research focuses on developing and utilizing the most advanced synchrotron-based X-ray characterization tools to investigate materials transformation dynamics over multiple time and length scales. This has provided new, and sometimes first-of-its-kind, insights for a wide range of materials, including additively manufactured steel, nickel-based superalloys, aluminum alloys, advanced ceramics processing, and low-carbon-footprint steel making.

• Fundamental Understanding of Phase Transformation Kinetics and Pathways: Phase and microstructural transformations are pivotal building blocks in materials science and engineering, as they dictate a material’s properties and performance characteristics. Structural data, particularly in situ structural data, is invaluable in understanding the kinetics and pathways of phase transformations. The development of modern in situ characterization techniques, such as those available at synchrotron and neutron facilities, opens new possibilities for tracking and studying the sequences of events during phase transformations. This allows us to identify intermediate states, determine transformation rates, and evaluate critical transition points. These fundamental insights help uncover the governing principles of material transformation, thereby enabling us to predict the behaviors of materials under complex and realistic material processing conditions.

• Multi-scale Structure Characterization Methodology Development: The hierarchical structures of advanced functional materials dictate their performance and demand cross-length-scale structure measurements that enable the construction of structure-property relationships. A long-term focus of Fan’s work, through a partnership between NIST and the Advanced Photon Source, is to develop synchrotron-based, advanced scattering methods that allow statistically representative, operando, and in situ characterizations over a continuous size range from sub-Angstrom to tens of micrometers. These methods enable the characterization of materials’ atomic structures and microstructures simultaneously. Our methodology has significantly impacted the materials research community, as evidenced by a larger user community we have established over the last two decades. It is also world-leading, and its capabilities are continuously improving to maintain its global leadership.

• Structure Characterization of Advanced Functional Materials using Scattering Methods: Developing new materials depends on a thorough understanding of their structures and microstructures. Another core interest of Fan’s is to leverage his expertise in scattering and general interest in materials characterization to contribute to NIST projects. These efforts promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness in the Energy, Manufacturing, Medical/Biomedical, and Environmental sectors.

Selected Professional Services

  • Member, Scientific Advisory Committee, Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, 2023-2026. 

  • Vice Chair, TMS Advanced Characterization, Testing, and Simulation Committee, 2022-2024. 
  • Chair, Small Angle Neutron Scattering Science Review Committee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2020-present. 
  • Member, Vice Chair, Chair. Advanced Photon Source User Organization Steering Committee, 2019-2022. 
  • Secretary, TMS Advanced Characterization, Testing, and Simulation Committee, 2020-2022. 
  • Member, Neutron Sciences Science Review Committee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2015-2020. 
  • Member, Small Angle X-ray Scattering Proposal Review Panel, Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory, 2012-2015.
  • Lecturer, Beyond Rg Small Angle Scattering Short Course, Advanced Photon Source, 2012, 2015.

Selected Awards

  • Department of Commerce Bronze Medal, 2019. 

  • TMS Nagy El-Kaddah Award in Material Processing, 2020. 

Selected Featured Research

Research Opportunities

National Research Council (NRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship is open to applications from U.S. citizens. This prestigious fellowship currently offers an annual stipend of $74,950 per year. The application deadlines are Feb. 1 and Aug. 1. If you are interested in pursuing a postdoctoral position at NIST and conducting research on the microstructural evolution of additive manufactured alloys or the characterization of advanced manufacturing processes using synchrotron methods, please feel free to reach out to me!

Opportunity #1Towards Understanding the Structure and Microstructure Evolution Kinetics of Additive Manufactured Alloys

Opportunity #2Synchrotron Characterization of Advanced Manufacturing Processes


Precision Calcination Mechanism of CaCO 3 to High-Porosity Nanoscale CaO CO 2 Sorbent Revealed by Direct In Situ Observations

Jenny Martinez, Jenna Wardini, Xueli Zheng, Lauren Moghimi, Jason Rakowsky, Jonathan Means, Huiming Guo, Ivan Kuzmenko, Jan Ilavsky, Fan Zhang, Pratik Dholabhai, Leora Dresselhaus-Marais, William Bowman
Deploying energy storage and carbon capture at scale is hindered by the substantial endothermic penalty of decomposing CaCO3 to CaO and CO2, and the rapid loss
Created October 9, 2019, Updated June 28, 2023