a 22-year-old doctoral candidate in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made the list of science journal Nature’s Top 10 people who mattered in science in 2018, on December 19, 2018.
According to two papers he published in Cao found that when graphene—which ordinarily conducts electricity—was exposed to a small electric field and cooled to 1.7 degrees above absolute zero, it became an insulator. And with a slight tweak to the field, the twisted sheets became a superconductor, where electricity flowed without resistance. His discoveries spurred a new field of superconductor physics.
Cao, from Chengdu in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, finished his middle and high school education in two years. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, east China’s Anhui Province, and went to the United States for a PHD at the age of 18.