By Amanda Campanaro
For Hamidreza Khassaf, pursuing a Ph.D. in UConn’s Materials Science and Engineering department was written in the stars. While he was pursuing his M.Sc. in MSE at Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey, his advisor was an Alumni of UConn’s MSE department. From then on, it was a straight trajectory from his work as an M.Sc. student to his current research in Dr. Alpay’s lab.
“My M.Sc. advisor, Dr. Burc Misirliuglu, is a UConn alumni from Dr. Alpay’s lab as well, and since working with him, I always followed the research that was done at UConn,” Hamidreza says. “The work in this group was very well in line with my M.Sc. work and applying for UConn MSE program was an obvious move for me.”
Currently, his research involves studying the effect of variables such as temperature, mechanical stress, and electric field on physical properties of functional materials. “Particularly, I have interest in ferroelectric materials and their piezoelectric and caloric behavior. I work with various material systems in search for enhanced properties in order to be able to implement them in novel systems and devices,” he explains.
Earlier this year, Khassaf’s research involving AFM probes, titled “Acoustic Detection of Phase Transitions at the Nanoscale,” was published in Advanced Functional Materials to the enthusiasm of the scientific community. News that external electrical and mechanical stimulations in ferroelectric material systems could potentially lead to enhancement of properties such as dielectric response and piezoelectricity spread to global news sites like Eurek Alert! and phys.org.
Hamidreza completed his B.S. degree in Materials Engineering with a minor in Metallurgical Engineering at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, in 2009, followed by his M.Sc. degree in MSE from Sabanci University. He joined UConn MSE in 2012, where he began researching sol-gel synthesis of oxide thin films and their structural and electrical properties. In the Functional Materials group at UConn, his current research activities revolve around phenomenological theory of ferroelectric transitions and synthesis/characterization of perovskite structures
Within Dr. Alpay’s group, Hamidreza works on various problems from understanding the physics behind a phenomenon in functional materials to synthesis and characterization of different material systems. “I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Professor Alpay,” he explains. “I am fortunate enough to work with so many knowledgeable and helpful graduate students and postdocs in the group as well as other professors at MSE department with whom I have had a lot of fruitful discussions.”
Hamidreza aims to build a career in academics, specifically in the area of functional materials for electronic and energy applications. He is currently looking for a good postdoctoral position where he can improve his skills and knowledge in the field and be better prepared for achieve his goal.
“Being graduated from a great Ph.D. program is undeniably one of the most important requisites to be a good candidate for a faculty position. Considering my time here and the opportunities that UConn MSE offered me, I have a feeling that I am in the right track.”