Introducing Zijun Xia to Edison’s Desk
Growing up beside the Yangtze River, I liked walking along the bank, enjoying the sunrises and sunsets, and watching ships sailing on the river. My dream at that time was to take a ship someday and be able to see the world.
When I was 18, I took a ship to Shanghai, which was 800 kilometers away from my hometown, and began my undergraduate study at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. My best memories from university was the time spent in my chemical experimentation classes. To this day, I still enjoy performing classic chemistry experiments and have the opportunity to do so while volunteering at primary schools. Some of my favorite experiments are the silver mirror reaction and the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction. In undergraduate school my major was applied chemistry, and then I became more interested in materials. I liked the feeling of being a designer, i.e., designing the molecular structure based on the requirements on mechanical strength, thermal stability, chemical compatibility, etc. So when I completed my undergraduate degree and moved on to graduate school, my major was material science. My thesis was focused on the development of polymeric electroluminescent materials, and the most fascinating time was when the three polymers I prepared showed strong blue luminescence along with nice thermal stability.
After spending 7 years in academia, I wanted to try something different. I got an offer from GE Global Research. I treasured this opportunity and entered GE right after I graduated with a master degree.
Life at GE is fast and fascinating and I hope to share some of those experiences with you on the blog. I was involved in/lead multiple projects relating to three different GE businesses. The research center offered a good platform to build both technical depth and broadness. After working in GE for a few years, I decided to also continue my schooling and get a Ph.D. I love working for GE, so I actually am able to work on my PhD at work! My Ph.D. thesis is Synthesis and Evaluation of Sulfonated Polyimide / Polybenzimidazole Cross-linked Membranes for Fuel Cell Applications. My target is to develop suitable membranes for high temperature PEMFC. It turns out I can actually leverage my knowledge in the fuel cell area to my current project in GE. This interaction encourages my interest in research and inspires me to generate more new ideas.
I have been involved in/lead 6 projects served for 3 different businesses during my 8 years in GE. I was most exciting on the superspreader, zero liquid discharge and my current project, the electrochemical cooling solutions. For the superspreader project, we filed 12 patents and some of our products had been commercialized. For the zero liquid discharge project, my design about the key element was adopted and the final product is being introduced to the market. I also harvested 6 patents in this project. I treat all my projects like little babies. It is great to watch them growing up.
Outside of work, I try to find time for outdoor activities such as running along the century park. However, I am increasingly tied to attend classes with my daughter (painting, piano, accordion, dancing, skating and swimming). Some of my best relaxes include enjoying an old movie with a cup of tea, playing puzzle games and yoga.