Xi hopes to expand research and modeling as a new NPRE faculty member

3/12/2024 Phillip Kisubika

Written by Phillip Kisubika

Xi hopes to expand research and modeling as a new NPRE faculty member

Assistant professor Jianqi Xi has joined NPRE at Illinois this semester after spending the last few years as a postdoctoral researcher and scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For Xi, the post in NPRE is his first faculty appointment, and he is enjoying the opportunity to fully join the field of nuclear energy and be an independent researcher. “I will develop one independent and interactive research group to extend my modeling efforts to this community,” said Xi, who made the move with his wife and infant child. “So far, (the experience has been) pretty good.”

A native of China, Xi was awarded his PhD in 2017 from the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. His graduate degree work involved the application of advanced computational techniques to study radiation defects in ceramic compounds.

Following his PhD work and a brief postdoctoral appointment at UTK, he joined the Materials Science and Engineering Department at UW-Madison and worked in the area of computational materials science. He developed multiscale micro-kinetic models to study the behavior of hydrogen during hydrothermal corrosion, as this process pertains to light water nuclear reactors.

After beginning his studies in thermal energy fields, Xi shifted gears in grad school after Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011. “I saw the need to join this field and do more to make sure what happened there doesn’t happen in the future,” Xi said.

He started studying nuclear materials, turning his focus to the degradation of materials in nuclear power plants and trying to improve safety in nuclear power. Currently, his research is based around modeling and providing strategies to help engineers design materials to improve reactor safety.

Xi hopes to add to what longtime Professors James Stubbins and Brent Heuser have built in the materials portion of NPRE with his modeling expertise. His Modeling of Nuclear Materials (MNM) research group currently has one PhD student and two other undergrad students.

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This story was published March 12, 2024.