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Winter FerroSchool 2022

Reflections on the 3rd UFFC-S School on Ferroelectricity
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By: Ralph Bulanadi, Brooke Richtik, Stuart Burns, Michelle Dolgos

GRADUATE students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty members met once again in December 2022 for the UFFC-S School on Ferroelectricity. This 3rd FerroSchool, hosted by Michelle Dolgos and Stuart Burns at the University of Calgary in Canada, traded the sweltering Lyonnais summer of its predecessor for a frigid Albertan winter, but continued the success of its mission to educate scientists of all stages of their career about the fundamentals and applications of ferroelectrics. We acknowledge that this FerroSchool was hosted on the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Blackfoot Confederacy (comprising the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai First Nations), as well as the Tsuut'ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda (including the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley First Nations). The city of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.

Opening the lectures was Susan Trolier-McKinstry with an introduction and historical overview of ferroelectrics research, followed by a lecture on the fundamental physics and symmetries of ferroelectrics provided by Sang-Wook Cheong. Discussions on more specific classes of ferroelectrics then expanded on these fundamentals. A lecture on antiferroelectrics was provided by Xiaoli Tan, and relaxor ferroelectrics by Marco Deluca. The fundamentals and applications of piezoelectrics were discussed by Alp Sehirlioglu, while Jennifer Andrew discussed multiferroics and the biomedical applications of such. In-depth lectures on sample preparation were provided by Geoff Brennecka on thin films, Laura Stoica on polycrystalline ceramic processing, and Zuo-Guang Ye on single-crystal ferroelectrics.

Numerous lectures served to emphasize the importance of x-ray diffraction in ferroelectrics research. Matthew Dawber introduced thin film diffraction, which was expanded by Carol Thompson's lecture on reciprocal space mapping and upcoming advanced diffraction techniques, and Jacob Jones discussing the applications of in operando diffraction experiments. Overviews of other techniques were provided by Shelly Conroy on Transmission Electron Microscopy and Neus Domingo on Scanning Probe Microscopy. These analysis techniques were expanded on by a lecture on machine learning applications in ferroelectrics research by Rama Vasudevan and a lecture on theory and computational methods by Karin Rabe.

Supplementing these lectures were tutorials on pair distribution functions (Michelle Dolgos), Pycroscopy (Rama Vasudevan) and Rietveld refinement (Jacob Jones), as well as laboratory classes on thin film processing (Geoff Brennecka), scanning electron microscopy (Laura Stoica), thin film x-ray diffraction (Matthew Dawber), atomic force microscopy (Neus Domingo) and the measurement of ferroelectric properties (Geoff Brennecka).

With the field of ferroelectrics finding itself at the interface of physics, chemistry, materials science, computation, and engineering, FerroSchools not only provide invaluable dedicated study into ferroelectrics, but also allows students to meet potential collaborators and co-workers in the field. The 32 participants came from 9 countries and 4 continents, helping bring together students of different cultural and academic backgrounds.

For Esther Hung, a Ph.D. student at Oxford University, FerroSchool provided an opportunity to meet others in the ferroelectric community. She explained, “Within my research group I’m the only one working on ferroelectric materials and so have very few people around me normally who understand my research area… it was tremendously beneficial to be surrounded by other researchers in this field, receive guidance on certain characterization on techniques and meet others working on similar sub-topics of ferroelectrics to me.”

Participants of the school contributed a total of 26 posters on everything ferroelectric, from aluminum to zirconium, and scanning probes to scanning electron beams. The poster sessions provided a platform for discussion and these conversations continued during breaks and over shared meals. These conversations built personal relationships and sparked ideas for potential collaborations for Owen Bowdler, a 3rd year student at the University of New South Wales. Bowdler stated, “The workshop was really helpful for both broadening horizons and making the field seem much more personable and dynamic (i.e. actually meeting other researchers rather than just reading names on papers).”

During FerroSchool, fun was not just limited to the classroom. Many attendees adventured outside to skate, ski and visit Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains. The FerroSchool schedule also included two social events held at Jamesons Irish Pub and the Hexagon Board Game Café. John Wellington-Johnson, a Ph.D. student from Georgia, United States, said that visiting Lake Louise (located in Banff National Park) and the board game night were the highlights of his trip. After the social events, he commented, “I felt so welcome in the space, and everyone was so kind and friendly.” In addition, John explained that the school has provided invaluable connections and knowledge on ferroelectrics. He stated, “Being able to connect with world experts and ask questions specific to my work was an invaluable experience, and the school has given me invaluable connections and knowledge on ferroelectrics.”

John stated, “I would absolutely recommend this workshop for future students. It is an opportunity to meet other impressive ferroelectricians whose knowledge will progress you months ahead of the standard literature reviews. Furthermore, the experiences and the activities I had at the workshop and in Calgary are unforgettable. I learned a lot, I networked a lot, and I had opportunities that went beyond my imagination.” The 4th FerroSchool is intended to be held in Asia, 2023, location TBD.

Aside from the excellent work by the chairs, this FerroSchool would not have been successful without financial support from IEEE-UFFC, the University of Calgary Global Research Initiative in Energy Research, Radiant Technologies Inc., the University of Calgary Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking, and the IEEE Southern Alberta Section. The University of Calgary NANS program provided teaching space for atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy teaching labs, while local students provided additional laboratory support and guidance.

Ralph Bulanadi is with the Department of Quantum Matter Physics, University of Geneva, Quai Ernest-Ansermet 24, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland (Click to show email)
Brooke Richtik and Michelle Dolgos is with the Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada (Click to show email); (Click to show email)
Stuart Burns was with the Department of Chemistry, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada. He is now with the Rigaku Corporation (Click to show email)