News Release

Prize of the Leopoldina for young scientist Jingyuan Xu from KIT

The engineer also receives the Hector Fellow Academy Grant and is admitted to the Global Young Academy

Grant and Award Announcement

Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

Awardee Dr. Jingyuan Xu in her laboratory at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (photo: Markus Breig, KIT).


Awardee Dr. Jingyuan Xu in her laboratory at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (photo: Markus Breig, KIT).

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Credit: Markus Breig, KIT

Jingyuan Xu has been working at the Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT) at KIT since 2021. There, she initially conducted research as a Humboldt Research Fellow and KIT Young Investigator Group Preparation Program Fellow. Since 2024, she has been leading the CZS Nexus research group "Emissions-Free and Environmentally Friendly Heating and Cooling Technologies" (ZEco Thermal Lab), funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation, for which she has raised 1.5 million euros. In the ZEco Thermal Lab at IMT, she and her team of eight focus on developing high-performance, CO2-neutral heating and cooling technologies.

Refrigerant-free cooling methods for the energy transition

The focus of Xu's own research is on novel, solid-state cooling processes that utilize shape memory alloys. In elastocaloric cooling systems such as these, temperature changes are  achieved through mechanical force. Unlike conventional cooling using vapor compression, no environmentally harmful gaseous refrigerants are used. Cooling based on elastocaloric materials is also considered low-maintenance, efficient, and – from electronics microcooling to air conditioners – a future option for various application areas.

"Elastocaloric cooling systems will establish themselves as an environmentally friendly alternative in the globally growing refrigeration market", says awardee Jingyuan Xu. "True innovation arises precisely at the interfaces between the fields of science on the one hand and technology on the other – and I want to contribute to that." Xu will receive the € 5,000 prize at the Leopoldina Spring Reception in Halle (Saale) on March 18, 2024, and present her research in a lecture.

Additional awards for Jingyuan Xu

Two other significant awards have recently been awarded to Xu: In February of this year, the Hector Fellow Academy (HFA) announced that the young engineer in energy engineering will be awarded the Hector Research Career Development Award. The sponsorship is endowed with € 25,000 and includes, among other things, funds for a doctoral position. It is awarded annually to three particularly promising researchers on their path to professorship.

Also in February, it was announced that the Chinese researcher will become a member of the Global Young Academy (GYA) for five years from May of this year. The Academy, founded in Berlin in 2010, aims to promote dialogue and collaboration among young scientists worldwide. The number of members is limited to 200; selection criteria include scientific excellence and social engagement.

Excellent young scientist with international roots

Jingyuan Xu began her academic career in the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, studying energy and power engineering at Huazhong University of Science and Technology. She graduated with honors in 2018 from the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. From 2018 to 2021, Xu worked as a research associate at British universities Cambridge and London (Imperial College).

Despite her young career, Xu has already been awarded multiple times, including the Sadi Carnot Award from the International Institute of Refrigeration (2023), the George T. Mulholland Memorial Award from the Cryogenic Society of America (2021), the Imperial College London Department Award from Imperial College London (2021), and the Humboldt Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2021). 

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