My Story with CIOMP

AuthorChi Vinh Ngo

Human being is born with a mission in life. That mission is closely related to his career and his jobs. Each job has the same valuable role in our society to build, to maintain, and to develop the human life. For example, a doctor can save many people’s lives, whereas a restroom attendant keeps the restrooms clean and comfortable to prevent any bad smells and especially potential infections or illnesses. Many people have spent most of their lives making contributions to human development. For instance, Academician Wang Daheng, a great optical physicist and engineer,  widely considered as the “Father of Optical Engineering” in China, was just one such person.

Professor Wang was a founder of the Changchun Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, as well as a founding academician of both the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, which have produced a great number of top scientists and engineers for China and for the world.

Another good example is Academician Yuan Longping, a prominent agronomist well-known for developing the first hybrid rice varieties in the 1970s, which is now grown in dozens of countries in Africa, America and Asia. He has given his whole life to the research of high-yield rice varieties, which have saved China and many other countries in the world from the threat of famine. Therefore, he is known as “Father of Hybrid Rice”.

Academician Youyou Tu is another outstanding example. A Chinese pharmaceutical chemist and educator, she discovered artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin, which are now widely used to treat malaria. This is a breakthrough which has saved millions of live in South China, Southeast Asia, Africa and South America. For her contribution to human health, she received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Without the contributions of both well-known people and unknown persons, our life becomes more difficult and less convenient. When I was young, I had searched for my mission in this life. After graduation from university, I have decoded to follow the path of scientific research path because I want to become a researcher with a specific contribution to the development of human. In my research, I have utilized pulsed laser machines to produce functional surfaces such as superhydrophobic surfaces, superhydrophilic surfaces for various potential applications. However, none of these potential applications have been commercialized yet. I always wondered what is the mission of my research career? In my graduate studies, I have tried to find a specific mission for my research career, and I have found it working in The Guo China-US Photonics Lab in Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics, and Physics (CIOMP). Now I know what my special mission is. I have participated in a cooperation project between China and US, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I think this is one of the most impressive and rewarding work I have done with CIOMP so far. The inspiration of this work comes from current sanitation issues in developing and undeveloped countries. Poor sanitation is the cause of more than 1,200 deaths of children under five-years-old per day and is also the cause of many diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition, intestinal infections, hepatitis, and so on. The issue is more serious in places where there is a shortage of water. The toilet and sanitation system which we use now has changed in the last 200 years. It often cannot be used in developing or undeveloped countries because of water shortage, and the high cost of waste-water treatment. The old toilet systems from 1980 to 1992 used an average of 13.6 liters per flush; and the new toilet systems, which we are using now, uses an average of 6 liters per flush. Receiving strong support from Professor Guo, Professor Bai and the presidents of CIOMP, I have employed my fabrication techniques and superhydrophobic-superhydrophilic surfaces to develop a new sanitation system which will use less and even no water to flush the human wastes. My current work in CIOMP are just the beginning steps such as establishment of a proper laboratory to increase the fabrication speed, fabrication of functional surfaces in small scale to remove human wastes without using any water, and talent cultivation. To complete and then commercialize this research, I will face a lot of challenges and failures; but I am quite confident that all the work will be completed properly with support from CIOMP. I learned the Chinese sentence “不忘初心,砥砺前行.” during my work in CIOMP and it means “Don’t forget your heart, go ahead”. This can inspire and motivate me to overcome the coming issues. I cannot imagine how I will feel when our commercialized toilet can be mass produced. This product will not only make my researches useful in real life but can provide a low-cost, sustainable  improvement to the current sanitation systems and save human lives. I am proud of becoming a small piece of this ambitious project. This is a story of my research in CIOMP. And what is your story?

Dr. Chi Vinh Ngo is carrying out his daily experiments

 Dr. Chi Vinh Ngo is directing a student’s daily experiment

The article was published in the 《International Talent》 magazine.

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