Shou-cheng Zhang received his B.Sc. in physics (1983) from the Free University of Berlin in Germany and his Ph.D. degree in physics (1987) from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He subsequently held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Santa Barbara (1987–1989) and a staff position at IBM Almaden Research Center (1989–1993). Since 1993 he has been a Professor of Physics at Stanford University. He also holds an appointment in the Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering Departments and is currently the co-director of the Stanford Center for Spintronics Science and Application. His research interests lie in the areas of quantum spin transport, the quantum spin Hall effect and the theory of high-temperature superconductivity.
Electrons in graphene can be described by the relativistic Dirac equation for massless fermions and exhibit a host of unusual properties. The surfaces of certain band insulators—called topological insulators—can be described in a similar way, leading to an exotic metallic surface on an otherwise ‘ordinary’ insulator.