Chapter 260: Nature Submission
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Although Princeton’s chemistry major was not as famous as its physics or mathematical physics, it still ranked in Top 15 in the world. Its organic chemistry major was ranked even slightly higher.
In 2011, after the Frick Chemistry Laboratory was built, it was considered one of the best chemical laboratories in the country. Although it was no match for MIT, it still had decent equipment.
People often think that Princeton did not have nutty laboratories, but this was a misunderstanding. As part of the Ivy League, Princeton’s alumni association was well funded. This could be observed from Lu Zhou’s $400,000 USD per year salary.
From Witten, Lu Zhou met Professor Paul J. Chirik.
Although this professor looked very young, he was one of the big names in the field of organic chemistry. This year, he just won a Green Chemistry Challenge Award for his Science thesis.
Goldbach’s conjecture was famous in the field of number theory. In the field of organic synthesis, there were similar famous problems as well, like the “2+2” problem.
The problem of cycloaddition reaction for olefins was very common in organic synthesis. The well known Diels Alder[4π+2π] cycloaddition reaction formed a six-membered ring from diene (4π) and olefin (2π) under thermal conditions.
However, another seemingly simple reaction of cycloaddition for [2π+2π] olefins formed a cyclobutane ring, this was not actually that simple. Due to the limitation of orbital symmetry, this reaction often required photochemical reaction conditions to activate, but this reaction pathway tended to be inefficient and poor specificities.
Professor Chirik, in his 2015 Science thesis, proposed a new way to solve this problem. He proposed using iron catalysts to convert simple olefins to cyclobutane structures under mild heating conditions.
Apparently, the industry was extremely interested in this technology. This professor’s patents brought him millions of dollars in dividends.
When Professor Chirik learned that Lu Zhou was interested in computational materials science, he immediately showed a strong interest in Lu Zhou and invited him to visit his laboratory.
In a magical place of Princeton, many professors from other disciplines were attracted to mathematics and physics. However, not many top mathematics professors were willing to research other things, even though mathematics did not make much money.
“The discipline of computing materials is emerging. Many people in this area have gone to Silicon Valley to do chip processing. Speaking of which, why are you interested in this area?” asked Professor Chirik as he gave Lu Zhou a cup of coffee and invited him to sit down.
Lu Zhou smiled and replied, “Because mathematics is an interesting thing. I intend to shine the light of mathematics onto other fields, not just on the tower of number theory.”
Professor Chirik leaned back in his chair. He smiled and said, “Your viewpoint is very unique. Whenever I would argue with professors from the Institute of Advanced Studies, they would tell me that mathematics should be pure.”
“And they’re right, mathematics is pure. But in my opinion, tools derived from pure research can be used to solve other problems,” said Lu Zhou with a smile. He paused for a second before he then said, “Actually, before I came to America, I participated in a similar research project. However, I was too busy so I couldn’t continue. So in order to complete my research, I would like to borrow some equipment.”
It was actually mainly for thesis writing. He had already registered the patent for the design method of the product. He even completed numerous experiments in the University of Jin Ling laboratory.
However, he was not a Princeton professor. He had to do the experiments again to gain credibility for his thesis. Materials science was different than mathematics, and experiments must be referenced in the thesis.
If he used a year-old data, from the other side of the Pacific, it could look like he was fabricating data and he would fail the peer review. This was because the peer reviewers did not do experiments themselves, so they had rigorous checks on the results of the experiment.
After all, it was not like Lu Zhou could ask the reviewers to do experiments for him.
All of the reviews were based on the preface that the thesis writer was honest, and was backed by his or her academic reputation. Sometimes, a thesis would pass submission but would be noticed by peers, then finally retracted by the journal.
This type of situation was most common in biology because many biology experiments were subjective and biased.
When Professor Chirik saw the list of equipment that Lu Zhou had in mind, he generously opened his drawer.
He knew that none of the equipment that Lu Zhou listed were anything dangerous, so he was confident to hand Lu Zhou the keys.
“It’s fine! Take it. Just be careful when doing experiments.”
Lu Zhou put the key in his pocket. He then smiled and said, “I promise you that I’ll leave your laboratory looking the same.”
“No, I’m telling you not to hurt yourself,” said Chirik. He smiled and said, “I’d rather you break the equipment than yourself. Otherwise, the people from the Institute of Advanced Studies would fire me.”
Lu Zhou laughed and said, “I definitely won’t.”
He then said goodbye.
Lu Zhou had already done the experiment before, so repeating it again was easy.
He just had to get used to the design test process, collecting data, labeling material, and even the time and location of the experiment.
Strictly speaking, this was Lu Zhou’s first time writing a materials science thesis.
Although strictly speaking, he had submitted an SCI materials design thesis, but that thesis was nothing more than an applied mathematics thesis. It was about mathematical modeling and calculation of the ratio of cement materials and carbon nanotube materials. It did not actually involve an experiment.
However, many things were connected.
As long as Lu Zhou learned the format, writing the thesis was not anything difficult.
He was up for two days doing the experiment. On the third day, he slept until the afternoon. Once he woke up, he sat at his desk and began writing his thesis on his computer.
[Title: A Polydimethylsilane Stabilized Interface Film for High-Performance Lithium Battery Anodes]
[Abstract: This paper uses polydimethylsilane raw material, through the etching of hydrofluoric acid, to obtain an improved polydimethylsiloxane nanoporous film, which is coated on the surface of the negative electrode material by spin coating. Through SEM electron microscopy, it was found that the PDMS film has a nanopore structure, which can provide an effective transmission channel for lithium ions and effectively inhibit the growth of lithium dendrites…]
Lu Zhou looked at the beginning of his thesis and nodded with satisfaction.
For this sensational invention, he could write more exaggerated points. However, it was not good to appear cocky toward the reviewers.
Not to mention, since he was new in the field of materials science, he did not know if the people in materials science would acknowledge him.
After Lu Zhou wrote the title and abstract, he began to write the body.
This was different than writing mathematics theses. Whenever Lu Zhou entered his mathematics formulas into LaTex, he would often reconsider if the “trivial” parts were actually “trivial”.
However, for materials science theses, as long as one understood the experiment data, the thesis writing would go smoothly.
Lu Zhou spent three days finishing the thesis. He double checked the whole thing and did not find any major problems.
As for the choice of journal submission, after careful consideration, he chose Nature’s Nature Chemistry journal as his target. It had an impact factor of 25.87.
For this kind of professional thesis, it was better to submit to a mainstream journal, rather than a science-focused journal.
Apparently, the Nature journal had a submission fail rate of 90%. This meant that only one in ten people passed submission.
Even with this fail rate, Lu Zhou decided to challenge himself.
He logged onto the submission website, filled in his personal details, and clicked upload.
Lu Zhou thought about that 20 plus impact factor, and could not help but smile.
Without a doubt, this was the highest impact factor journal he has ever submitted to.
However, Lu Zhou could not help but frown.
He did not know why, but he felt…
Did he take a loss somehow?