Xu is professor at the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics (SIOM), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). He served as director of SIOM from 1992 to 2001, and is currently chairman of the academic council of SIOM. He has made outstanding contributions to laser physics, optical science and plasma physics, particularly to laser fusion, high power lasers, laser-plasma interactions, X-ray lasers, high field physics and ultrafast optics. He is a member of CAS, a fellow of the Optical Society of America and has served as vice president of the Chinese Optical Society from 1993 to 2012. He is also founding editor and editor-in-chief of Chinese Optical Letters. As the first winner, his major awards include Natl. Sci. and Tech. Progress Award, 1st class, 2004; two Natl. Natural Science Awards, 2nd class, 1995 and 2001; Natl. Innovation Award, 2nd class, 1999; HLHL Prize, 1998.