12 Jun 2015
Laura Stoica was awarded a Richardson Travel Bursary in 2014. Here, she gives an overview of the research she is undertaking for her PhD project and her attendance at the International Symposium on Applications of Ferroelectrics (ISAF), which was held in Singapore in May 2015.
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‘…the excellent performance of the innovative relaxor-based piezocrystals points to a revolution in electromechanical transduction for a broad range of applications’ (Zuo-Guang Ye, Tutorial Lecture, ISAF 2015).
‘Relaxor-based piezocrystals are a new class of materials with a piezoelectric performance greatly improved over piezoelectric materials currently in use. This new generation of materials will particularly benefit the sonar and undersea communication and exploration as well as medical ultrasonic imaging, diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to find a method by which piezoelectric single crystals of high quality are obtained at a relatively low cost.
‘The PhD project I work on focuses on the growth of relaxor piezocrystals, namely Pb(In1/2Nb1/2)O3–Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3–PbTiO3 (PIN-PMN-PT) by two methods, i.e. Bridgman and Solid State Conversion Growth. Whilst Bridgman is a well-established technique with well-known disadvantages, i.e. non-homogeneity of the grown crystals and relatively high cost, the Solid State Conversion Growth is a technique not sufficiently explored and not well understood.
‘Thanks to the Richardson Travel Bursary kindly awarded by SCI, I was able to attend a conference of great importance, namely the International Symposium on Applications of Ferroelectrics (ISAF) held in Singapore between 24 and 27 May 2015, which allowed me to share my work and learn more in the area of my project.
‘The aim of the conference was to bring together participants from industry, research institutes and academia. Science findings concerning piezoelectric, ferroelectric, pyroelectric and dielectric materials together with their technological developments such as sensors, actuators, transducers, memories or medical devices were presented and discussed.
‘Key speakers were Professor Zuo-Guang Ye from Simon Fraser University, Canada, who gave a tutorial lecture with the title ‘Development and understanding of high-performance piezo-/ferroelectric single crystals’ and Professor Thomas R Shrout from Pennsylvania State University, USA, who gave a plenary lecture with the title ‘Relaxor-PT Single Crystals: There and Back Again’. Whilst Professor Ye focused on the growth, characterisation, applications, the understanding of structure-property relations as well as perspective and new challenges, Professor Shrout focused on achievements at the Materials Research Laboratory at Penn State spanning over four decades which led to the development of the new generation of piezoelectric single crystals. Another presentation of interest was given by Zibo Jiang from Innovia Materials (Shanghai) Co, Ltd, China with the title ‘PMN-PT Crystal of Less Defects and More Uniformity’.
‘Although my PhD focuses on growing piezocrystals by Bridgman and Solid State Conversion Growth, the talk given at the conference focused on the Solid State technique. The aim of the talk was to present the path needed to be followed in order to grow a single crystal via this technique and the preliminary experiments conducted. The title was ‘Grain Growth and Crystal Growth Investigations in PIN-PMN-PT’. This was the only talk at the conference focusing on this particular method. As a result of the positive feedback received from members of academia as well as industry, experiments will be further conducted within this PhD with the aim of a better understanding of this method.
‘During the conference I was able to initiate collaborative links with researchers who specialise in transducer design using piezoelectric single crystals. Connections have also been initiated with other crystal growers around the world and with industry. Because of the importance of the piezoelectric single crystals for applications including but not limited to sonar and medical imaging, many companies are interested in productionising the growth of single crystals. Therefore, by attending the conference, I was able not only to share my current work and exchange interdisciplinary ideas with other participants, but I have also identified my career path options.
‘Furthermore, Singapore is a very interesting, vibrant and colourful city, ‘smaller than a full-stop on the world map’* from where I have returned with a memorable experience. I came across a wonderful and harmonious blend of cultures, and in particular the cuisine. The 90% humidity and 30°C most of time were an experience in itself and did not stop me from enjoying clams with spring onions and ginger, barbeque stingray with sambal chilli and Kang Kong (water spinach) by the bay. I have also witnessed many activities related to Singapore celebrating its 50th birthday which made the time spent there even more interesting.
‘Finally, I would like to thank SCI again for the support which allowed me to attend a very fruitful conference with impact on my career, make new friends and have a magnificent time in Singapore.’
PhD researcher at the University of Leeds