By Allison McLellan
Linghan Ye, a Ph.D. student in the MSE Department, became passionate about her major because it is “fun.” By the age of 20, she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering at Beijing University of Technology before arriving at UConn in 2010 and earning the Outstanding Scholar Program Award.
Ms. Ye took a moment to reflect on what made her want to pursue materials science and engineering. “You can synthesize a material, you polish it, test it…But you can also go to the lab and use microscopy and characterize the material in microns, in nanometers, the properties inside the material that you couldn’t see from the outside. And you actually understand more about what can you do to improve the properties. Characterization gives you an idea that you can actually solve a problem. That just sounds fun to me.”
The young scholar decided to pursue a Ph.D. in order to learn as much about materials science and engineering as possible. Ye struggles with the language barrier, but the five years spent on a doctorate degree gives her time to overcome this obstacle while gaining knowledge and experience. She simply says, “I just want to do my best.”
Specifically, she focuses on ferroelectric materials, in which a voltage is applied to a sample, making it expand or contract. Her research allows the properties of Ferroelectric random-access memory devices to be mapped in a unique way, in order to optimize properties.
As a dedicated student, Linghan studies Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) with Dr. Bryan Huey’s group. Being part of this group allows her to attain a Master’s degree while also studying for her Ph. D. She highly values the direction of her advisor, saying, “He guides you but also wants you to think on your own and supports all your ideas.”
With Dr. Huey’s guidance, the lab group is able to make great strides in their research. Ye and her colleagues collaborate with research scientists at UC Berkeley in order to co-author a paper entitled ‘Deterministic switching of ferromagnetism at room temperature using an electric field.’ It was published in a December 2014 issue of Nature, an esteemed, international science journal. Ye is very proud of the publication; “It’s amazing. Our collaborators are outstanding and we came up with great results.”
Ye says, “Our findings reveal the ferroelectric domain switching dynamics and the significant appeal of controlling magnetism with an electric field. The results suggest ways to engineer magnetoelectric materials and improve the functionality for low-energy-consumption, non-volatile electronics at nanoscale.”
When Ye isn’t doing school work, she helps coordinate events as treasurer to the UConn Materials Research Society student chapter, a group that educates students on opportunities provided by their major. Most recently, the group went to Brookhaven National Lab in New York where they were able to speak to engineering researchers and view advanced equipment that they could use in future careers.
As for her own future, Ms. Ye wants to expand her research, potentially pursue a post-doctorate in materials science, and a career in engineering industry.