2017 Joint IEEE ISAF-IWATMD-PFM Conference

July 19, 2017 | Contributed By - Iaroslav Gaponenko, Newsletter Editor for Ferroelectrics

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General summary

The 2017 Joint IEEE ISAF-IWATMD-PFM conference, was held in Atlanta, U.S.A., on the Georgia Institute of Technology campus from the 7th to the 11th of May. It brought together leaders from academia, national laboratories and industrial research and development sectors, to discuss the most recent advancements in the science and technology of ferroelectric and dielectric materials. Topics spanned a very broad range – from the theory and modelling of materials, to their processing and characterization, to the development of new applications and devices.

This meeting also provided synergistic integration of the International Symposium on Applications of Ferroelectrics (ISAF) with both the International Workshop on Acoustic Transduction Materials and Devices (IWATMD) and the Piezoresponse Force Microscopy and Polar Phenomena at the Nanoscale Workshop (PFM). The IWATMD and PFM were financial and technical co-sponsors of the conference.

Despite the political issues related to travel in the U.S.A. at the time, this joint conference brought together more than 340 participants from three continents and more than 30 countries. While a majority were from academia – and among these over a hundred were students – a significant number of attendees also came from Government/Industry backgrounds.

Attendee breakdown by geographic origin (left) and affiliation (right).

Spanning five days, the conference took off with a day of tutorials on the 7th of May, and was followed by four full days of technical sessions from the 8th to the 11th of May. The joint conference’s General Chair was Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb, the UFFC-S President-Elect. Dr. Bassiri-Gharb, together with the local and international organizing committee, were delighted to welcome attendees to the meeting.

Local and international organizing committee for the 2017 Joint IEEE ISAF-IWATMD-PFM conference. Photo by Christian Weymann.

Technical sessions

With over 300 submitted abstracts, of which more than 200 were assigned an oral presentation, four technical sessions ran in parallel throughout the duration of the conference. The accepted abstracts can be consulted here. Special multi-day focus sessions were organized for the IWATMD and PFM, to allow the communities to intermix.

Two poster sessions took place over Monday the 8th and Tuesday the 9th of May at lunchtime – with a large attendance by the participants.  The student poster competition took place during the first poster session.

Memorial sessions in honor of Professors L. Eric Cross and Jan Fousek were held. Speakers were invited to commemorate their important contributions to the field of ferroelectrics.


Plenary talks from experts in the fields of ferroelectrics, acoustic transducers and PFM provided an overview of the history and current research in key topics. The following presentations were made:

  • Lattice Defects in Ferroelectric Oxides and Their Interactions With Electric Fields, Elizabeth Dickey, North Carolina State University, U.S.A.
  • Seeking Simple Truth in Complex Materials: Wrestling with Ferroelectrics, Marty Gregg, Queen’s University Belfast, U.K.
  • Investigation of Relaxor-PT Single Crystals for Device Applications, Haosu Luo, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • Pushing the Performance of Electro-Mechanical Thin Films​, Paul Muralt, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland
  • Cold Sintering – Rethinking What We Thought We Knew in Electroceramics, Clive A. Randall, The Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A.
  • Medical Ultrasound Transducers – Piezoelectrics at Work, Scott Smith, GE Global Research, U.S.A.


A tutorials session was organized on Sunday the 7th of May prior to the technical program of the conference. The tutorials were given by experts in the field on the subjects of processing and characterization of ferroelectric materials. A hands-on PFM workshop was integrated into the characterization track, and was given by scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in collaboration with the Asylum Research company.

  • Electro-mechanical surface properties by force microscopy, ​Neus Domingo, ICN2, Spain
  • PFM- can one escape from the artifacts all around this technique?, Elisabeth Soergel, University of Bonn, Germany
  • Morphotropic phase boundary and defects and domain walls, Dragan Damjanovic, EPFL, Switzerland
  • Grains, domains and solid-solutions: extrinsic effects on photon thermal transport in oxides and techniques to characterize them, Brian Foley, Georgia Institute of Technology, U.S.A.
  • Mechanical properties, reliability and failure in ferroelectric materials, Chris Lynch, UCLA, U.S.A.
  • Challenges in processing of bulk and thin film ferroelectric oxides​, Alp Sehirlioglu, Case Western Reserve University & Prof. Brady Gibbons, Oregon State University, U.S.A.
  • Piezoelectric films in FBARs and other devices, Sandy Cochran, University of Glasgow, Scotland
  • Piezoelectric sensors, actuators and transducers: design, fabrication, characterization and applications, Xiaoning Jiang, North Carolina State University, U.S.A.
  • Hands-on PFM Workshop, Rama Vasudevan, Dr. Nina Balke, Dr. Stephen Jesse, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S.A.

Women in Engineering event

The Women in Engineering event during the 2017 Joint IEEE ISAF-IWATMD-PFM conference took the shape of an Adaptive Leadership Workshop. Presented by Professor Robert Thomas from the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the workshop focused on adaptive leadership, a theory enhancing the ability of individuals and organizations to address complex leadership challenges. Such tools are extremely useful in academic environments, where they can become valuable for instance in the management of large research projects or in the practical exercise of leadership.

The workshop, held during lunch on Wednesday the 10th of May, attracted over 30 participants from various backgrounds.

Instigators of the Adaptive Leadership Workshop. From left to right: Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb (UFFC-S President-Elect and General Chair of the conference), Prof. Robert Thomas (Scheller College of Business, Georgia Tech), Brady Gibbons (Interim UFFC-S WiE Ferroelectrics representative).

Exhibition and sponsors

The 2017 Joint IEEE ISAF-IWATMD-PFM conference was supported by the contributions of sponsors and exhibitors shown below. An exhibitor hall was installed, allowing the attendees to interact with the industrial exhibitors throughout the duration of the conference.

Social events

Welcome reception

The welcome reception to the 2017 Joint IEEE ISAF-IWATMD-PFM conference took place on the evening of Sunday the 7th of May at the Rooftop Garden of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons building. More than 250 participants  attended the catered event and enjoyed the warm and sunny southern evening.

Welcome reception at the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons Rooftop Garden. Photo by Christian Weymann.

President’s reception

The traditional President’s reception took place on the same rooftop garden on the evening of the 9th of May. This event was organized to thank the conference organizing committee as well as the plenary and tutorials speakers for their contributions. The occasion was also used to award certificates to the student poster competition finalists.

Student poster competition finalists posing with their certificates surrounded by Dragan Damjanovic, UFFC-S VP of Ferroelectrics (left) and Clark T.-C. Nguyen, UFFC-S President (right). Photo by Akira Ando.


The conference banquet took place in the Wenn Student Center Ballroom, and was attended by over 300 participants. A sit-down southern meal was served paired with wines. During the banquet, the UFFC-S Ferroelectrics Awards, Student Poster Competition and Student Photo Competition results were announced.

Conference Banquet at the Wenn Student Center Ballroom. Photo by Christian Weymann.


UFFC-S Ferroelectrics Awards

Crowning the conference banquet, three IEEE UFFC Society Awards were announced at the end of the evening. Nominated by the community at large and selected by the Awards committee led by Jacob Jones, the following three awards were presented at the 2017 Joint IEEE ISAF-IWATMD-PFM conference:

The Ferroelectrics Recognition Award, honoring members of the Society for outstanding achievements in their scientific work as well as in promoting the ferroelectrics community, has been presented to Prof. Alexei Gruverman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA, “for fundamental and applied studies of nanoscale physical phenomena using scanning probe microscopy”.                                                                     
The Ferroelectrics Young Investigator Award, recognizing the achievements of University, Industrial or Laboratory researchers in the field of ferroelectric materials and applications in the early stages of their career (at most 40 years old at the time of nomination), has been presented to Prof. Kyle Webber, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, “for contributions to the understanding of mechanical, fracture and ferroelastic properties of ferroelectric ceramics”.
The Robert E. Newnham Ferroelectrics Award, named in honour of Robert E. Newnham to recognize his leading role in understanding the structure-property relationships in materials and to honor him as a scientist, teacher and advisor to numerous researchers and engineers, has been presented to Prof. Ahmad Safari, Rutgers University, USA, “for sustained and impactful contributions in structure-property relationships of ferroelectric and piezoelectric ceramics, composites, and films”.

Award recipients holding their commemorative plaques. From left to right: Jacob Jones (UFFC-S Awards committee chair), Kyle Webber (Ferroelectrics Young Investigator Award recipient), Ahmad Safari (Robert E. Newnham Ferroelectrics Award recipient), Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb (UFFC-S President-Elect), Dragan Damjanovic (UFFC-S VP of Ferroelectrics).

Student Poster Competition

The traditional ISAF Student Poster Competition took place during the 2017 Joint IEEE ISAF-IWATMD-PFM conference. For the first time in the history of ISAF, a double blind process has been employed by the committee led by Nagarajan Valanoor: headers containing names and affiliations were removed from the submitted abstracts and a unique identifier was attached instead. Moreover, potential conflicts of interest were identified during the pre-selection process, and both the preselection and finals judging committees were adjusted accordingly. Through this process, 30 entries were selected for competition from over 60 submissions. Due to the high quality of the submissions, six prizes were awarded: three for the third place, two for the second place and one for first place.

Third places
  • Influence of Process Conditions on Structural and Electrical Properties of Hf1-xZrxO2: Dead Layer Effect and Defect Trapping, by Franz Fengler, T. Mittman, M.H. Park, C. Richter, T. Mikolajick, and U. Schroeder – See Abstract
  • Optimization of a Novel Transducer Design for a Pavement Embedded Energy Harvesting Application, by Gregory Yesner, A. Jasim, H. Wang, B. Basily, A. Maher, and A. Safari – See Abstract
  • Fabrication and Testing of Electromechanical Actuation Devices Based on Gd-doped Ceria This Films, by Eran Mishuk, E. Makagon, E. Wachtel, S. Cohen, A.D. Ushakov, D.O. Alikin, A.A. Esin, A. Tselev, K. Rechav, R. Popovitz-Biro, V. Ya. Shur, A.L. Kholkin, and I. Lubomirsky – See Abstract
Second places
  • Quantification of Defect-Defect Interactions in Ferroelectric Materials, by Steven J. Brewer, S.C. Williams, H. Zhou, R.Q. Rudy, M. Rivas, R.G. Polcawich, C.D. Cress, E.R. Glaser, J.L. Jones, and N. Bassiri-Gharb – See Abstract
  • Domain Reorientation and Extrinsic Scaling Effects in Polycrystalline, {001} Textured PbZr0.3Ti0.7O3 Thin Films, by Lyndsey M. Denis, G. Esteves, J. Walker, H. Zhou, M. Wallace, C. Fancher, J.L. Jones, and S. Trolier-McKinstry – See Abstract
First place
  • Simultaneous Time-Resolved Measurements of Polarization and Strain Dynamics to Explore Switching in Ferroelectric/Ferroelastic Materials, by Jan Schultheiss, Y.A. Genenko, S. Zhukov, R. Khachaturyan, L. Liu, J.E. Daniels, and J. Koruza – See Abstract

UFFC-S for Students

The UFFC-S is strongly dedicated to support of the future generations:  by involving students into the governance of the AdCom or providing travel support for attendance of  symposia. This year’s events have demonstrated UFFC-S’s commitment to invest in the scientists and engineers of tomorrow.

CATaclysm at Monday Night Brewing

The traditional student reception has adapted to the local microbrewery culture, and was organized in the form of a beer tasting event at the Monday Night Brewing Company in Atlanta on Monday the 8th of May 2017. While the event was mainly taylored for students – whose beer tasting was covered by the UFFC-S – over two hundred conference attendees  registered to attend. Thus, an intergenerational exchange was made possible through the flow of beer, and the possibility to strike a pose and take a cat ear picture with the General Chair of the conference and President-Elect of the UFFC-S, Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb.

CATastrophic picture of the UFFC-S President-Elect and a student wearing cat ear accessories.


A student photo competition was organized by the UFFC-S Student Representatives on the theme of “Science&Life@ISAF2017”. With the advent of social media, cameras are everywhere – turning every phone into a window to the world. Thus, to break with tradition, the picture had to be taken spontaneously during the conference, representing the vision of either life or science during the conference. The entries from students – both UFFC-S members and non-members – were sent to the Student Representatives for judging, accompanied by a short explanatory phrase. Three entries were selected as the winners of the competition and were presented at the conference banquet:

Bronze Medal – Samuel Parry

Silver Medal – Fanmao Liu

Gold Medal – David Spirito

“A picture of a perovskite structure found in the carpet at the Crowne Plaza hotel where I am staying.”

“Ordered architecture and disorder crowd, cold glass and warm light. Like the ordered, low entropy, steady state and disordered, high entropy, dynamic state coexist in materials, creating beautiful harmony in science.”

“At ISAF, everybody is accessible and friendly to talk about science or random weird topic. Even plenary speaker and organiser. There are so friendly and funny that they always have time to take part in crazy selfies.
That is the ISAF’s spirit… Awesome people!”

Student Travel Support

In order to encourage student participation to the conference, student travel support has been made available by the UFFC-S. In total 32 complete applications were received from Asia, Europe and America. All of the student applicants were funded to some extent – amount adjusted depending on their geographical position – and have been present at the conference.

Ancillary meetings


The first UFFC-S AdCom meeting of 2017 took place on Saturday the 6th of May at the Renaissance Hotel in Midtown Atlanta. The meeting was followed by a tour of the Margaret Mitchell House (author of “Gone With the Wind”) and drinks/dinner at the Empire State South restaurant.

AdCom meeting at the Hotel Renaissance High Ballroom AB.


A Ferroelectric Standing Committee meeting took place on Sunday the 7th of May after the Welcome Reception. During this meeting, the committee elected Jacob Jones to the position of Deputy Vice President of the FerroCom.

Moreover, two new members have been appointed to FerroCom:

  • Juras Banys, Vilnius University, Lithuania. Juras is currently the only representative of the FerroCom to the Baltic countries, and is active in the ECAPD conference.
  • John Daniels, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. John is a co-chair and part of the local organization committee for the 2021 ISAF in Sydney.

Finally, following the FerroCom meeting, the following people were appointed to specific FerroCom roles:

  • Jon Ihlefeld, to the position of Secretary of FerroCom
  • Michelle Dolgos, as the IEEE UFFC WIE Committee Ferroelectrics representative. Michelle is also appointed to the FerroCom as a voting member. Michelle replaces Brady Gibbons who served in the role on an interim basis.
  • John Daniels, to the position of Technical Program Committee Group III Chair.

Current Ferroelectrics Technical Program Committee

  • Group I – Fundamentals of Ferroelectrics and Related Materials
    • Chair: Andy Bell
    • Members: JP Maria, Takkaki Tsurumi, Nagarajan Valanoor, Zuo-Guang Ye
  • Group II – Processing of Ferroelectric Crystals, Ceramics, Thick and Thin Films
    • Chair: Geoff Brennecka
    • Members: Brady Gibbons, Jon Ihlefeld, Katzumi Kato, Barbara Malic, Ahmad Safari, Alp Sehirlioglu, Shujun Zhang
  • Group III – Characterization & Properties of Ferroelectrics
    • Chair: John Daniels
    • Members: Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb, John Daniels, Marco Deluca, Marty Gregg, Xiaoli Tan, Satoshi Wada
  • Group IV – Applications of Ferroelectrics, Piezoelectrics and Related Materials
    • Chair: Roger Whatmore
    • Members: Akira Ando, Sandy Cochran, Wang Junling, Do-Kyun Kwon, Ron Polcawich, Vladimir Shur