Cover Feature
The Rising Son
This young man grew up at NTU – from being an undergraduate to doing his PhD to teaching. He can easily qualify as a son of NTU. The sun is his speciality, and his studies here aim to bring about many good outcomes. Join Assoc Prof Joachim Loo and his team and be at the forefront of many more discoveries
Students and alumni
• Law Jia Yan (who was accepted to the prestigious IEEE Magnetics Society Summer School last year)
• Assoc Prof Joachim Loo (see side story)
• Dr Jimmy Tang (SPH Magazines' Group Editor)

The one with substance You have a keen sense of observation – you notice the different properties of objects and how they behave. When you were young, you tried creating your own unique materials. Do you remember using a lighter to melt plastic? Or creating figurines out of Blu-Tack mixed with some other goo?

You like touching different objects and you can appreciate textures. You know the difference between iron, steel and the various types of plastics. You can name their strengths and weaknesses.

When you look at objects like your iPhone, you wonder: "Can we manufacture this - both the hardware and software – out of better stuff?" You are indeed someone who believes in the power of materials, and how they can be changed or improved to do more amazing things – even creating completely new kinds of things.

Find the right stuff at the School of Materials Science & Engineering where your observation skills will be sharpened when you start using high-tech instruments (such as a high-resolution microscope to inspect nanoparticles). You can also learn from top researchers who have helped to develop new time-release drugs that treat different illnesses, or who have discovered that keratin in hair can speed up healing when applied to cuts and burn wounds. Because materials science touches on many different fields, don't be surprised if you find yourself mixing some chemistry with biology and physics.

Joachim Loo:

True-blue NTU Boy

Ask Assoc Prof Joachim Loo, 36, where his roots lie and he will say "NTU". The young don is a true-blue NTU boy, having graduated from the School of Materials Science & Engineering in 2001 and completed his doctoral studies at the university too.

He says of his background in engineering: "It taught me not to view a problem as a dead-end, but as a starting point to a solution."

He is well-known for his work on solar fuels – a sort of artificial photosynthesis where sunlight is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. He has also ventured into the world of nano-sized materials, which includes nanotoxicology studies.

Assoc Prof Loo and his research partner Asst Prof Ng Kee Woei discovered that nano-sized zinc oxide particles – found in products such as sunscreens and paints – could cause DNA damage when they enter human cells, which in turn could potentially lead to cancerous tumours.

As a teacher and mentor, Assoc Prof Loo hopes "to positively impact the lives of students so that they are inspired to contribute to the industry and, ultimately, back to society and their alma mater".