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When you are doing something new, you need to use all of your strength and all of your capabilities to find a new pathways.

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Yong Chen made history in 1989 as one of the student organizers of the pro-democracy movement in China. The Chinese government's bloody suppression of demonstrators at Tiananmen Square drove dissent underground and abroad, and became for many a symbol of the regime's tyranny.

Thirteen years later, Chen is making history again - this time as leader of a team at HP Labs that recently created the highest density electronically addressable memory to date.

For his part, Chen was awarded a U.S. patent for the nano-imprint lithography technology essential to the process.

Chen's method describes how to make a "master" or mold of a chip, using electron beam lithography. The master can then be used to stamp out copies, just like a printing press.

"We expect that this method will be much less expensive than the current photolithographic techniques used for creating chips," said Stan Williams, HP Fellow and director of the Quantum Science Research group.

Chen, who joined HP Labs in June 1996, says he was lucky to have escaped from China after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

"I should thank my father because he understood society much better than I did. He saw that we had lost. He bought my ticket, packed my luggage and put me on a flight," Chen recalls.

Yong Chen (second from the right) at a pro-democracy protest in China.

Three days later, the government took control of all travel out of the country and escape was impossible. Had he not left when he did, Chen probably would have gone to prison.

His first home in the United States was Berkeley, California, a place well known for its diversity and liberal mindset -- and about as far removed from Communist China as you can get.

"When I saw so many different types of people walking around campus, all living and studying in their own ways, I immediately got an idea of what freedom is," Chen recalls.

Although dramatically different from his political work, Chen says his current work offers its own rewards.

"When you are doing something new, you need to use all of your strength and all of your capabilities to find new pathways," he says. "That's very challenging work, and that is very exciting."

About Yong

Education: PhD, Materials Science and Engineering, University of California at Berkeley
Native country: China
Joined HP Labs: June 1996
Hobbies: Classical music, ceramics, photography, soccer, travel
Biggest influence: Grandma's rudimentary education when culture was denied in the Chinese "Culture Revolution;" the pro-democracy movement in China that impelled me to a liberal and democratic country; my former research adviser at Berkeley, Jack Washburn, who gave me the basic ideas about scientific research and American culture; and QSR director, Stanley Williams, who created a research heaven for me and guided me toward an exciting research field.


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