Piezoelectric thin films: key materials for micro and communications technology


Event details

Date and time 27.04.2020 17:15  
Place and room
Speaker Prof. Paul Muralt, EPFL
Category Inaugural lectures - Honorary Lecture
The event is postponed. The new date will be communicated as soon as possible.

After 20–30 years of research and development, micro devices based on piezoelectric thin films are now finding applications in several markets, such as RF filters for mobile phones and high-resolution ink jet printing. Many more applications are in the emerging phase. The advantages of piezoelectric coupling in electro-mechanical systems are now recognized by a growing community of microsystems engineers. This talk will begin with a short overview of the field including my own research, outlining some of the challenges in growing thin films of PZT and AlN-ScN alloys. I will then discuss applications at RF frequencies in the lower GHz range as used for signal transmission in mobile communications. This is a particularly promising and important application, since sound waves at these RF frequencies can be trapped within a few micrometers – meaning resonators can be designed that are about 100 times smaller than if the electromagnetic waves are trapped directly. In addition, the acoustic quality of selected piezoelectric materials is so high that no other method can compete at these small dimensions. This new microsonics technology will be essential for smart phones and 5G networks. I will draw on my own research to explain recent developments in this field. In addition to communications applications, I will also discuss a number of new sensor applications. The most interesting are the wireless ones that do not need a power supply.


Paul Muralt is an honorary professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland. He holds a PhD in incommensurate phase transitions from the Institute of Solid State Physics at ETH Zurich (1984). He began his career at the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich, where he developed a pioneering electric surface potential mapping method using STM. He then worked at the Free University of Berlin and at a thin-film coating manufacturer (Balzers) before joining the Ceramics Laboratory at EPFL’s Materials Science Institute in 1993. Muralt leads a research group on electroceramic thin films for micro- and nanotechnology, and is particularly well known for his work in processing, functional characterization and MEMS applications for piezoelectric and pyroelectric thin films such as PbZrTiO3, AlN and AlScN. He has authored or co-authored over 250 journal articles that together have been cited 14,000 times. He has taught classes on thin film deposition, micro- and nanostructuration and surface analysis, and an introduction to ceramics. An IEEE Fellow, Muralt received the outstanding achievement award at the 2005 International Symposium of Integrated Ferroelectrics and the C.B. Sawyer award for innovation in materials at the 2016 IEEE International Frequency Control Symposium. He served as co-chair of the MRS spring meeting in 2008, and in 2019 was the General Chair of a large joint conference in Lausanne that included the IEEE International Symposium on Applications of Ferroelectrics.

  • Introduction from Prof. Harm-Anton Klok, Institute of Materials Science and Engineering Director
  • Honorary Lecture from Prof. Paul Muralt - « Piezoelectric thin films: key materials for micro and communications technology”



Practical information

  • General public
  • Registration required


  • Sylvie Deschamps

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