Susan Trolier-McKinstry is the Steward S. Flaschen Professor of Ceramic Science and Engineering, Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Director of the Nanofabrication facility at the Pennsylvania State University. Her main research interests include thin films for dielectric and piezoelectric applications. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Ceramic Society, IEEE, and the Materials Research Society, and an academician of the World Academy of Ceramics. She currently serves as an associate editor for Applied Physics Letters. She was 2017 President of the Materials Research Society; previously she served as president of the IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control Society, as well as Keramos. Twenty-one people that she has advised/co-advised have gone on to take faculty positions around the world.
Professor Trolier-McKinstry’s research interests are centered around structure-processing-property relationships in electroceramics. This includes work on understanding the fundamentals that control the magnitude of the dielectric and piezoelectric responses; the reliability of the materials; the processing science associated with depositing and patterning thin film electroceramics with excellent structural and composition control; and piezoelectric microelectromechanical systems (piezoMEMS).
Professor Trolier-McKinstry’s group is developing sensors and actuators that are compatible with CMOS electronics (and hence low driving voltages). Her group has approached this by trying to maximize the figure of merit for the material response through control of composition, crystallographic orientation, grain size, and changes in boundary conditions. The work includes fundamental studies on the factors that control domain wall contributions to the properties and the role of octahedral tilt in influencing response. Her group also does work on damage-free patterning of complex oxides, and fabrication of piezoelectric microelectromechanical systems, including accelerometers, pumps, switches, adaptive optics components for the next generation X-ray telescope, energy harvesters, and ultrasound systems with close-coupled electronics. They are also working on preparing high strain actuator films at low processing temperatures (< 400oC).
Bulk and thin film dielectrics are of interest for on and off-chip decoupling capacitors, as well as tunable components. Professor Trolier-McKinstry’s group emphasizes the development of a wide range of dielectrics covering the permittivity range from 30 to 3000. Recent work has focused on using Rayleigh and Preisach methods to quantify the properties over a wide range of ac and dc electric fields. The same tools are also being used to study reliability and the relative roles of various defect types in controlling the properties. In addition, her group is exploring development of new dielectrics for energy storage applications.
Technology Impacted By Research:
Technologies affected by her research include on and off-chip decoupling capacitors, tunable filters and antennae, miniaturized sensors, micromachined analytical instrumentation, high frequency biomedical ultrasound, and piezoelectric actuators.