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President and Vice-Chancellor

Professor Xiang Zhang


Xiang Zhang is a physicist, optical engineer, and material scientist, who serves as President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Hong Kong. He is the sixteenth leader appointed to this role, beginning in July 2018.

Professor Zhang was born in Nanjing in Chinaʼs Jiangsu province. He credits his parents for encouraging him to imagine a life beyond his circumstances, and in particular his father, a high school history teacher, for embedding discovery and divergent thinking at the center of his learning experience.

He studied at Nanjing University (BS/MS), then moved to the United States where he earned further degrees at the University of Minnesota (MS) and University of California, Berkeley (PhD). He taught as an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University; and associate professor and full professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In 2004, he returned to UC Berkeley. At Berkeley, he served as the inaugural Edward S. Kuh Endowed Chair Professor, Director of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, and Director of the Material Science Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. XLab, his team of students, researchers, and visiting scientists, was so named “not because weʼre mutants, but because weʼre searched deeply for non-traditional research topics”, he says. “X stands for explore, for experiment, and for excellence.”

A world leader in nanophotonics and material physics, Professor Zhang developed the first optical superlens — breaking the deffraction limit and transforming understanding of imaging technology. He also pioneered the field of plasmonic lithography with important implications for microelectronics and data storage.

Notably, he invented the worldʼs first optical “invisibility cloak”, achieving a historic leap from imagination to reality. This earned him a place on TIMEʼs “Top 10 Scientific Discoveries” of 2008 alongside NASAʼs Phoenix Mars Lander and Chinaʼs first spacewalk.

In 2018, on his first day as HKUʼs President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Zhang outlined his vision for a world-leading university that trains and prepares the next generation of leaders, who impact society in Hong Kong, Greater China, and beyond. Since then, HKU continues to progress in the world university rankings, while creating new initiatives across the university to deliver breakthroughs that improve the human condition.

Initiatives underway include a “Green Belt” adjoining HKUʼs main campus. This area will be used for deep technology research that will

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