I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to those who assisted me, in one way or another, with my Ph.D. in the last four years. First and foremost, I would like to thank my Honor’s Year Project and Ph.D. advisor Dr. Dong Jin Song for his never-ending enthusiasm, guidance, support, encouragement and insight throughout the course of my post graduate study. His diligent reading and insightful and constructive criticism of early drafts and many other works made this thesis possible. To my fellow students, Chen Chunqing, Sun Jun and my cousin Feng Yuzhang – your friendship, collaboration and funny chit chat gave me inspiration and helped me go through the long and sometimes not-so-smooth ride of Ph.D. study. To my former lab mates Dr. Sun Jing and Dr. Wang Hai – for your suggestions on all aspects of research works and generous hospitality. I am indebt to Dr. Bimlesh Wadha and Dr. Khoo Siau Cheng for the valuable comments on an early draft of this thesis. Dr. Wadha, in particular, carefully reviewed the entire thesis and corrected many language errors. I am sincerely grateful to her for the time and effort put into this. I am also grateful to the external examiner and many anonymous reviewers who reviewed this thesis and previous publications that are part of this thesis and provided critical comments, which contributed to to the clarification of many of the ideas presented in this thesis
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