By Allison McLellan
As a UConn MSE Ph.D. student Hamidreza Khassaf has been pleasantly surprised by the science community’s enthusiasm for his co-authored paper, “Acoustic Detection of Phase Transitions at the Nanoscale.”
“We obviously welcome any interest that has been arisen towards this piece of work. We believe that this could be a starting point to carry on thorough research works in order to further understand the nature of phase transitions.”
Published in the January 2016 issue of Advanced Functional Materials, the research involves AFM probes. Hamidreza elaborates: “External electrical and mechanical stimulations in ferroelectric material systems could potentially lead to enhancement of properties such as dielectric response and piezoelectricity. Complex oxides such as lead zirconate titanate (PZT) are prone to phase transitions at their crystal boundaries due to their multi-element chemistry. These boundaries then, are susceptible to host the external stimuli.”
Co-authors include UConn MSE alumnus Dr. Baris Okatan, who currently works as a research fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as other collaborators from ORNL, Georgia Tech, and Penn State. The publication has spread to global science news domains such as Eurek Alert! and phys.org.
Utilizing phenomenological theory to study structural behavior of complex oxides, the research was conducted at the lab of Dr. Alpay, Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and also Hamidreza’s advisor. Their studies corroborate the results of experimental work done at Georgia Tech, developing a new characterization technique with which the study of nano-scaled structures becomes relatively more feasible.
The paper supplies a new approach towards simultaneously mapping and studying phase transitions in relevant scales. With this method, there is potential to develop new generations of the materials to be applied to technology such as sensors, energy-harvesting devices, and medical diagnostic equipment.