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Yanwen Zhang

Associate Professor


Dr. Yanwen Zhang is a Distinguished R&D Staff at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) with a joint faculty appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at University of Tennessee.


She received B.S. (1990) and M.S. (1993) degrees in solid state physics at Beijing Normal University (China), and was awarded a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics (1998) from Lund University (Sweden) and a Ph.D. in Science (1999) from Beijing Normal University (China). Her two PhD degrees, one based on experimental ion–solid interactions and the other on simulation on radiation transport, uniquely qualify her to effectively communicate with experimental, simulation, and theoretical researchers, as well as to develop and execute research that takes advantage of experimental and modeling techniques to maximize scientific impact. After earning two Ph.D. degrees, she held positions as a Postdoctoral Fellow (1999) and Assistant Professor (2000-2002) at Uppsala University (Sweden), and as a senior/staff scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory from 2003 to 2010 before joining ORNL. Dr. Zhang’s research has focused on radiation effects in alloys and ceramics, ion beam modification of materials, nanoscale defect/interface engineering, and materials under extreme environments. Dr. Zhang was awarded Honorary Docent from Lund University in 2004 after a rigorous evaluation of scientific achievements and pedagogical skills. She was the recipient of a 2005 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and DOE Office of Science Early Career Scientist and Engineer Award in recognition of her seminal contributions to the fields of ion-beam physics and ion-solid interactions in materials, and for her commitment to education and outreach. She was the director of a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) for Energy Dissipation to Defect Evolution (EDDE) from 2014-2020 to advance the understanding of energy dissipation mechanisms in complex alloys, with ultimate aims to control the evolution of defects in structural materials. Dr. Zhang has over 390 journal articles and over 80 invited presentations. Dr. Zhang has organized several conferences and society symposia, serves as a reviewer for scientific journals, and has been active in mentoring of students at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels.


Dr. Zhang’s research incudes understanding interactions of ions, electrons and photons with materials and how these interactions can be applied to modify, characterize, or control materials (e.g., materials by design), as well as to detect radiation. Her key research and scientific contributions include: 1) a novel approach based on high-resolution time-of-flight spectroscopy to measure electronic stopping powers in carbides, oxides and some semiconductors; 2) understanding damage accumulation and radiation effects in SiC and some functional oxides, specially on ionization-induced healing process; 3) development of an ion technique to understand scintillation response to energy deposition and to rapid screening of radiation detector materials for accelerated materials discovery; 4) revealing material response from coupled electronic and nuclear energy deposition and dissipation, demonstrated by distinctive synergistic effects, additive effects, and competitive effects in ceramic materials; and 5) demonstrating effects of chemical complexity in energy dissipation on defect devolution in complex alloys, including high-entropy alloys,  by showing that tuning the chemical complexity at the level of both electrons and atoms can effectively impact both defect production during energy dissipation in the fs to ps time frame and damage evolution over much longer time scales.



Ph.D. in Engineering Physics, Department of Nuclear Physics, Lund Institute of Technology (LTH), Sweden: Applications of Ion Beam Methods in Silicide/Si and Silicide/GaAs Nanometer Structures

Ph.D. in Science, Institute of Low Energy Nuclear Physics, Beijing Normal University (BNU), China: Application and Modeling of Ion Beam in Nanometer Science: Elastic Recoil Detection, Silicide Film by Low Energy Ion Beam Synthesis, Stoichiometry Disturbance by MeV Ion Implantation

Professional Service

  • Guest Editor, Focus Issue: Concentrated Solid Solution Alloys Perspective, Current Opinion in Solid State and Materials Science 21, issue 5 (2017). Guest Editor, Defect-induced Effects in Nanomaterials, Physica Status Solidi b (2016). Guest Editor, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms 286 (2011).
  • Editorial board, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms (2009 - 2015).
  • Symposium and Session Organizer: International Conference on the Application of Accelerators in Research and Industry (CAARI) (2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2020). Co-organizing the 14th International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Applications of Accelerators. Symposium Organizer: The Nuclear Materials Conference (2014). Symposium Organizer: MRS “Materials Research Needs to Advance Nuclear Energy” (2009), “Advances in Materials for Nuclear Energy” (2012), “Defects and Radiation Effects in Advanced Materials” (2014). Symposium Organizer: “Defect-induced Effects in Nanomaterials,” European MRS (2016). Co-Chair, 16th International Conference on Radiation Effects in Insulators (2011). Organizer, Summer School on Materials Challenges for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems, Beijing, China (2011). Symposium Organizer: “Ion Beam Modification and Synthesis in Solids,” Material Science & Technology Conference, Cincinnati, OH (2006).
  • Member Advisory Committees: International Scientific Committee on NOMATEN (Centre of Excellence in Multifunctional Materials for Industrial and Medical Applications,, 2018 - present); Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) External Proposal Review Committee (2018 - present).
  • Coordinator/Spokesperson for an international collaborative project (2006) at the Jyväskylän Yliopiston Fysiikan Laitoksella (JYFL) cyclotron laboratory in Finland, an EU large-scale infrastructure center and center of excellence, on self- and dopant-diffusion in key materials for future electronic device technologies.
  • Journal Reviewer: Nature Materials, Nature Communications, Scientific Reports, Acta Materialia, Scripta Materialia, Materials Research Letters, APL Materials, J. of applied physics, NIMA, NIMB, J of Phys E, IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, J. of Materials Research, J. of Nuclear Materials, Nanotechnology, J. of Microscopy, Canadian Journal of Physics, J. of Microscopy, IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, High Pressure Research, Surface and Interface Analysis.
  • Proposal review for DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences and Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, and National Science Foundation.
  • Developed a new graduate course: Ion Beam Modification and Analysis (MSE 571 and NE 544) in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Nuclear Energy, University of Tennessee. The objective of this course is to present an overview of accelerator-based research and engineering, which is a growing and vibrant scientific area, and to give the training in the central aspects of modern ion beam techniques for the modification and analysis of materials.
  • Established an iterative procedure to analyze ion beam channeling spectra (described in J. of Nuclear Materials 389 (2009) 303–310) and made this algorithm easy for students to use in their thesis work. This research tool has also been provided to and widely used by researchers in the field using ion beams to determine defects and disorders in crystals.
  • Routinely hosted visiting scientists from U.S. and foreign universities, mentor graduate students, summer undergraduates and high school interns at PNNL, ORNL and UT. Provided 8 to 10 hours of lectures, 2-3 weeks of accelerator training and hands-on practice at the experimental workstations so students and some users can operate the instruments themselves for introductory measurements.
  • Served on the dissertation committee for students and PhD candidates in USA and some European countries, including being external Faculty Opponent for (1) a joint degree of Master of Science from Department of Nuclear Physics, Lund University, Sweden, and School of Physics, University of Bath, UK (2002); (2) PhD at the Department of Physics, University of Jyväskylä, Finland (2011); and (3) PhD at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Uppsala University, Sweden (2018).

Awards and Recognitions

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory Significant Event Award (2014), and Performance Award (2013, 2016, 2018 and 2020).
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory - Scientific and Technical Achievement Recognition (2008).
  • Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory - Director Award, PNNL (2006).
  • Recipient of Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) (2005) for innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology, and for exceptional potential to shape the future through intellectual and inspired leadership, especially for her internationally recognized, seminal contributions to the fields of ion–beam physics and ion–solid interactions in materials, and for her commitment to education and outreach.
  • Recipient of DOE Office of Science Early Career Scientist and Engineer Award (2005) for internationally recognized, seminal contributions to the fields of ion-beam physics and ion-solid interactions in materials, especially development of a novel approach for measuring electronic stopping, and for her commitment to mentoring students at the high school, undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels.
  • Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory - Outstanding Performance Award, PNNL (2005).


  1. Selected Publications (over 390 refereed journal articles, lead on 77 and many as corresponding author; an H-index of 41 and total citation over 7300 based on Web of Science; and H-index of 47 and total citation over 9000 based on Google Scholar. 7 books and book chapters)

    1. Zhang and W.J. Weber, Ion irradiation and modification: the role of coupled electronic and nuclear energy dissipation and subsequent nonequilibrium processes in materials, Applied Physics Review 7, (2020) 041307.
    2. Zhang, T. Egami, W.J. Weber, Dissipation of radiation energy in concentrated alloys: Unique defect properties and microstructural evolution, MRS Bulletin 44, 798 (2019). Citations: 15.
    3. J. Weber and Y. Zhang, Predicting damage production in monoatomic and polyatomic targets using Stopping and Range of Ions in Matter code: Challenges and Recommendations, Curr. Opin. Solid State Mater. Sci. 23, 100757 (2019). Citations: 50.
    4. Zhao, T. Egami, G. M. Stocks, and Y. Zhang, Effect of d electrons on defect properties in equiatomic NiCoCr and NiCoFeCr concentrated solid solution alloys, Phys. Rev. Materials 2, 013602 (2018). Citations: 57.
    5. Zhang, S. Zhao, W.J. Weber, K. Nordlund, F. Granberg, and F. Durabekova, Atomic-level heterogeneity and defect dynamics in concentrated solid-solution alloys, Curr. Opin. Solid State Mater. Sci. 21, 221 (2017). Citations: 91.
    6. Zhao, G.M. Stocks, and Y. Zhang, Stacking fault energies of face-centered cubic concentrated solid solution alloys, Acta Materialia 134, 334-345 (2017). Citations: 130.
    7. Granberg, K. Nordlund, M.W. Ullah, K. Jin, C. Lu, H. Bei, L. Wang, F. Djurabekova, W.J. Weber, and Y. Zhang, Mechanism of radiation damage reduction in equiatomic multicomponent single phase alloys, Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 135504 (2016). Citations: 217.
    8. Lu, L. Niu, N. Chen, K. Jin, T. Yang, P. Xiu, Y. Zhang, F. Gao, H. Bei, S. Shi, M. He, I.M. Robertson, W.J. Weber, and L. Wang, Enhancing radiation tolerance by controlling defect mobility and migration pathways in multicomponent single-phase alloys, Nat. Commun. 7, 13564 (2016). Citations: 266.
    9. Zhang, G.M. Stocks, K. Jin, C. Lu, H. Bei, B.C. Sales, L. Wang, L.K. Beland, R.E. Stoller, G.D. Samolyuk, M. Caro, A. Caro, and W.J. Weber, Influence of chemical disorder on energy dissipation and defect evolution in concentrated solid-solution alloys, Nat. Commun. 6, 8736 (2015). Citations: 291.
    10. Zhang, R. Sachan, O.H. Pakarinen, M.F. Chisholm, P. Liu, H. Xue, and W.J. Weber, Ionization-induced annealing of pre-existing defects in silicon carbide, Nat. Commun. 6, 8049 (2015). Citations: 103.
    11. Zhang, M.L. Crespillo, H. Xue, K. Jin, C.-H. Chen, C.L. Fontana, J.T. Graham, and W.J. Weber, New ion beam materials laboratory for materials modification and irradiation effects research, Nucl. Instrum. & Meth. B 338, 19 (2014). Citations: 109.
    12. Toulemonde, W.J. Weber, G. Li, V. Shutthanandan, P. Kluth, T. Yang, Y. Wang and Y. Zhang, Synergy of Nuclear and Electronic Energy Losses in Ion-irradiation Processes: the Case of Vitreous Silicon Dioxide, Physical Review B 83, 054106 (2011). Citations: 136.
    13. Zhang, W. Jiang, C. Wang, F. Namavar, P. D. Edmondson, Z. Zhu, F. Gao, J. Lian, W.J. Weber, Grain growth and phase stability of nanocrystalline cubic zirconia under ion irradiation, Physical Review B 82, 184105 (2010). Citations: 104.
    14. Zhang, J. Lian, C.M. Wang, W. Jiang, R.C. Ewing, and W.J. Weber, Ion-induced Damage Accumulation and Electron-beam-enhanced Recrystallization in SrTiO3, Physical Review B 72, 094112 (2005). Citations: 115.
    15. Zhang, H.J. Whitlow, T. Winzell, I. F. Bubb, T. Sajavaara, K. Arstila and J. Keinonen, Detection Efficiency of Time of Flight Energy Elastic Recoil Detection Analysis Systems, Nucl. Instrum. & Meth. B 149, (1999) 477. Citations: 156.

Contact Information

  • 203 Fibers & Composites Manufacturing Facility-Engineering Annex 1321 White Ave. Knoxville, TN 37996-1950
  • Phone: 865-974-0482
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