Fields was first runner-up for top paper at the 2019 American Ceramic Society Electronic Materials and Applications conference.

Shelby Fields, a Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering, was a first runner-up for top paper at the 2019 American Ceramic Society Electronic Materials and Applications conference. This international gathering focused on fundamental properties and processing of ceramic and electroceramic materials and their applications. Fields’ research explores the conditions under which hafnia-zirconia oxide becomes ferroelectric, part of an effort to better insulate computer chips and increase computer memory. Fields conducts experiments on a hafnia-zirconia alloy that is compatible with silicon and can be integrated into a computer chip’s nano circuits. “There are a lot of people working on this problem,” Fields said. “I just isolated one knob and turned it.”

Fields selected UVA Engineering for his doctoral studies because he wanted to work with materials at the nanoscale to develop computer chip technology. This area of research likewise intrigues his academic advisor, materials science and engineering associate professor Jon Ihlefeld. Fields was one of Ihlefeld’s first students. “I was attracted to UVA in part by the opportunity to build and design with my own hands; professor Ihlefeld’s lab offered a fresh canvas,” Fields said. You can read more about Ihlefeld’s research on optical devices in Advanced Optical Materials. “Tunable Infrared Devices via Ferroelectric Domain Reconfiguration” demonstrates a new type of filter to reflect or block certain wavelengths of infrared light—to “tune” the filter to the frequency of the infrared wave within the electromagnetic spectrum.