Yang Gan: My Next Great Impossible

Yang Gan

Yang Gan is a material chemist, studying methods to improve sapphire utilization in LED manufacturing – he tells us how curiosity is the key to scientific innovation.

My team and I are working on developing methods to enhance the use of sapphire crystals in light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Due to their favorable surface properties, sapphire crystals are one of the most important materials used in the manufacturing of high brightness LEDs. However, removing contaminants from these sapphire substrates through chemical cleaning is challenging – this is a problem I hope to solve.

“I am always cautious to rely on conventional wisdom…”

As a chemist, seeing is believing. I am always very cautious to rely on conventional wisdom in research, especially when it has not been critically tested. Using comprehensive surface analysis techniques, I was able to prove that no routine method of surface cleaning was effective on sapphire substrates. This led me to successfully establish a novel sapphire cleaning method with unprecedented performance. 

“The constant challenge of problem-solving inspires me…”

My Next Great Impossible is progressing from cleaning to etching the sapphire substrates to create patterned crystals for improved LED performance. This constant challenge of problem-solving inspires me, understanding how sapphire patterns evolve and which patterns produce the best results. I believe that maintaining a sense of curiosity will continue to help me uncover and solve these important research gaps.


Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve the Next Great Impossible?

A: Approach each new problem with perseverance and an open mind - you may discover something that others have overlooked.

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