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Mar 14 2024

Exploring Ferroelectricity in Morphologically Engineered Complex Oxide Thin Films

CME Department Seminar

March 14, 2024

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM America/Chicago


1047 ERF and Zoom at


842 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607

Presenter: Joshua Adkins, PhD Candidate
Location: 1047 ERF and Zoom

Abstract: Ferroelectrics are a fascinating class of functional materials that possess a unit cell-scale, spontaneous, and reversible electric polarization. This polarization is also mechanically and thermally coupled, which promises opportunities to leverage ferroelectrics for a variety of technologically critical applications such as clean energy generation/conversion and high-density solid-state memory. However, nanoscale ferroelectric materials encounter challenges related to longevity and stability during utilization, which limit their potential in state-of-the-art electronic devices.  To address challenges related to ferroelectric performance at the nanoscale and deliver on their promise, we implement a strategy of “morphological engineering”: harnessing the structure-property-processing-performance paradigm of materials science and engineering to empower the enhanced design and deepened understanding of ferroelectric materials. This strategy is guided by the process of pulsed laser deposition (PLD), a powerful materials fabrication technique with a storied history of enabling fundamental research.

To illustrate this PLD-guided strategy, I will highlight research dedicated to the exploration of ferroelectricity and related phenomena in three classes of morphologically engineered complex oxide thin films: (i) polarization-dependent pyroelectric effects in strained perovskite BaTiO3, (ii) temperature-dependent ferroelectric endurance in ultrathin fluorite HfZrO2, and (iii) controversial hysteretic electronic effects in metastable wurtzite ZnO alloys. In addition to affording a greater fundamental understanding of the correlation between materials growth, composition, structure and electronic properties, the findings of these studies facilitate future work capable of addressing ongoing challenges associated with nanoscale ferroelectric materials for advanced electronic technologies.  This future work, which will encourage participants to call upon their knowledge of materials science, physics, chemistry, and/or engineering, will also serve as a critical educational space for the training of future generations of scientists and engineers.

Speaker Bio: Joshua Adkins (he/him/his) is a Materials Engineering doctoral candidate in the Department of Civil, Materials and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). He earned his B.S. in chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana in 2018, during which he also conducted NASA-funded research focused on improving the performance and longevity of lithium-sulfur batteries. His doctoral research involves the investigation of ferroelectric phenomena exhibited by morphologically engineered complex oxide thin films grown via pulsed laser deposition, to expand their applications in areas of nanoelectronics and energy production. He holds a visiting student appointment at Argonne National Laboratory and is also a member of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Materials Research Society (MRS), and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Adkins is a recipient of the UIC Pipeline to an Inclusive Faculty (PIF) fellowship, a two-time recipient of the UIC Chancellor’s Student Service Award, and a recipient of the UIC College of Engineering Exceptional Teaching Promise Award. Adkins supports undergraduate success and belonging in engineering through his work in UIC’s Equity and Inclusion in Engineering Program. He has adapted and instructed engineering-based mathematics curricula for pre-college programs aimed at supporting the retention of racially underrepresented engineering students and also served as a former president of UIC’s Black Graduate Student Association.


Prof. Matt Daly

Date posted

Mar 12, 2024

Date updated

Mar 12, 2024