Professor gives invited talk at IEEE conference, student wins award

Ben Hirt's presentation

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering was well-represented at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) International Frequency Control Symposium and International Symposium on Applications of Ferroelectrics (IFCS/ISAF) in July.  Professor Alp Sehirlioglu was an invited speaker and PhD student Benjamin Hirt won the conference’s award for Best Student Paper.

Sehirlioglu gave a talk entitled “Guiding the Search for High-Temperature Ferroelectric Perovskites: From Intuition Driven Approaches to Applied Data Sciences.” “High temperature ferroelectrics are sought after for actuator applications such as deep well oil drilling, fuel modulation in jet engines or ultrasonic drilling on the surface of Venus. The use of converse piezoelectric effect in actuators require large piezoelectric coefficients to obtain the necessary displacement under a reasonable electric field or within a suitable volume. As a result, of interest are perovskite ferroelectrics near a Morphotropic Phase Boundary at which the electromechanical properties maximize. However, the operating temperature of such materials have been limited.” He discussed the advantages and disadvantages to “different approaches to discovery of new high temperature ferroelectrics, varying from trial and error to intuition or theory driven to approaches enabled by information sciences.”

Some of the topics the conference focused on included Materials, Resonators, & Resonator Circuits; Oscillators, Synthesizers, Noise & Circuit Techniques; Microwave Frequency Standards & Applications; Sensors & Transducers; Timekeeping, Time & Frequency Transfer, GNSS Applications; Optical Frequency Standards & Applications; Fundamentals of Ferroelectricity and Piezoelectricity; Materials Processing, Fabrication, and Integration; Characterization and Measurement; Ferroelectric-Enabled Applications; Integrated Materials and Device Modeling and Design; and Thin Film Ferroelectrics for MEMS.  According to the conference website, the event “ highlights and celebrates the shared interests and expertise of the Frequency Control and Ferroelectrics communities.”

IEEE holds the IFCS/ISAF annually, alternating between holding it in Europe, Asia or North America each every third year.  In 2023, Cleveland will be the host city with Sehirlioglu as the general chair.

Sehirlioglu has been involved with IEEE since he was a PhD student at University of Illinois.  He is a senior member, a member of the Ferroelectrics Standing Committee (Ferrocom) and the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In the past, he has held an elected adcom position and the Ferrocom publications chair position.

Hirt won the event’s Best Student Paper Award for his paper “High Temperature Ferroelectrics Using Ternary Components With Cobalt: Stoichiometry Control.”  He wrote about how “high temperature piezoelectrics could be used for more efficient fuel injection in diesel engines by replacing solenoid valves and for sensors in structural health monitoring in nuclear reactors.”  Hirt received a $200 honorarium as his award.

The conference was held virtually from July 19-23.  All presentations were pre-recorded, giving attendees the option to log in during conference times to watch the presentations and ask questions on a forum.  Having attended both virtual and in-person conferences, Hirt missed the excitement of an in-person conference, but appreciated not having to choose between two presentations or deal with transportation.

Hirt’s main research interests include high temperature piezoelectrics with high piezoelectric coefficients and creating nanocomposites for smart propellant.  After he graduates in 2023, he hopes to become a researcher in a national lab or industry.