Bo Wang, who earned his doctorate in materials science and engineering from Penn State in August 2020, is the recipient of a Gold Graduate Student Award from the Materials Research Society (MRS). He was selected as one of the seven students to receive the Gold Award from a competitive international cohort of 19 finalists.
MRS Graduate Student Awards are intended to honor and encourage graduate students whose academic achievements and current materials science research display a high level of excellence and distinction. The award seeks to recognize students of exceptional ability who show promise for significant future achievement in materials research and education.
Wang’s research focuses on understanding the electromechanical properties in ferroelectrics, which are materials that exhibit piezoelectric properties of converting mechanical energy to electrical energy, and vice versa.
He was among the team of researchers who created transparent piezoelectric materials. Their findings were reported in Nature. Transparent ferroelectrics hold promises for transparent ultrasound transducers that allow for faster and more accurate medical imaging, energy-harvesters for self-powered screens, and even actuators for invisible robots, Wang said.
The team used alternating current electric field to engineer the domain structures to achieve high piezoelectricity performance and transparency at the same time. The work also corrected a common assumption that smaller domain size always lead to stronger piezoelectric properties.
Wang said the collaborative work dovetailed perfectly with his career goals of developing more efficient ways of designing next-generation materials.
“My long-term research goal is developing and utilizing multiscale computational modeling and simulations to make theoretical predictions and generate fundamental understanding in order to guide and speed up the experimental design of novel functional and structural materials,” Wang said.
He praised the freedom and the expertise of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Materials Research Institute — and his adviser Long-Qing Chen, Hamer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, professor of engineering science and mechanics and professor of mathematics — for giving him the tools needed to earn this award.
“Dr. Chen allows sufficient freedom for me to explore scientific questions driven by my interests,” Wang said. “He also provides the best platform that attracts world-class experimentalists to communicate and collaborate with our group, from which I have learned a lot of knowledge aside from my own expertise in modeling and computation.”