Dr. Nicola Spaldin, instrumental in developing the field of magnetic ferroelectrics, will be the featured speaker at the next event in the Director’s Women in Science Speaker Series.
You can hear her lecture in person at the Lab on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 10 a.m. in the third-floor conference room of the Integrative Genomics Building (IGB). Please bring your badge. The IGB is a badged building and you must use your badge for entrance and wear it while in the building. The event will also be livestreamed. Add it to your calendar.
You can see a preview of her material from this Falling Walls conference.
Dr. Spaldin is a professor of Materials Theory at ETH Zurich and is well known for her work developing the class of materials known as multiferroics. She shared her thoughts on the place of Materials Science in history and how science can change the world.
Elements: As a professor of Materials Theory you have spent years devoted to materials science. Why do you believe materials are responsible for shaping human history?
Dr. Nicola Spaldin: Every major advancement in human history has been driven by the introduction of a new material. There is the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, and future generations may well refer to our current times as ‘the silicon age.’ Silicon forms the core of the electronics that enable much of our current way of life, not just computers and mobile phones but also in areas such as communication and transportation.
Elements: You have developed a new class of ‘two in one’ materials – multiferroics – which have the unprecedented quality of being both ferroelectric and ferromagnetic, Why do you believe this work means we are the cusp of a new age?
Dr. Spaldin: Worldwide the use of electronics is increasing so rapidly that by most estimates half of global energy consumption will be used by information technologies within a couple of decades. We need new solutions. We are working at synthesizing multiferroics since this material will allow us to develop new electronic device architectures. This new generation of lighter, smaller, and more energy-efficient technologies has the promise to take us beyond the silicon age.
Elements: The world is facing crises in so many areas of life, including climate and energy and food production. How will science assist in solving these issues?
Dr. Spaldin: The big issues the world is grappling with, food security, water, and energy production, all need science to make leaps that occur when our researchers come from diverse educational backgrounds and approach these problems with diverse thinking. If we exclude people based on the countries they come from, if we discourage entire genders because we make them feel as if they don’t belong in the scientific community, if we won’t work with people because of their ethnicity, then there is no one left to make the scientific discoveries that will make the world a better place.