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In addition to great research discussions, there’s also time for a little fun at the Ceramics Gordon Conference. Credit: John Halloran.

The next installment of the long-running Gordon Research Conference on “Solid State Studies in Ceramics” will be July 20–25, 2014, at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. The topic is “Challenges around transport and reactivity in ceramics,” and the organizer is Monika Backhaus (ACerS Fellow) of Corning Inc. The GRC will investigate phenomena related to ionic and charge carrier transport under driving forces, such as electric, temperature, and strain fields, along with complex boundary conditions at interfaces and surfaces in multicomponent and often reactive systems.

Compared with single crystals, materials with interfaces are much more complicated. “Everything gets more complex,” Backhaus says in an interview. “Interfaces are constrained. A lot of understanding is missing—what are the constraints, what are the boundary phases? How can we enhance the interface?”

All of the speakers are invited, and Backhaus says she invited speakers based on the “excellence of their work in an area with some new, fundamental understanding in the area that relates to applications, also.”

Backhaus says presentations will emphasize system level challenges and applications, such as membranes, fuel cells, membrane reactors, batteries, supercapacitors, thermoelectric generators, electroresistive or memresistive switches, and electronic storage devices.

The GRCs are known for their intellectual rigor. Sessions are comprised of a 40 minute presentation followed by 20 minutes of facilitated discussion. There are no concurrent sessions, and the environment encourages researchers to dive deep into the science, identify new challenges, stimulate new ideas, and spark new collaborations. Backhaus says it is not unusual for new proposals to be sketched out over lunch or dinner!

Backhaus decided to forgo the traditional off-topic last lecture in favor of a final session that will hit on short, hot topics brought up during the poster sessions. She hopes to stimulate new and innovative ideas up to the very last moment.

Applications for this year’s ceramics GRC are available at the GRC website. The program is listed below. The ACerS Basic Science Division traditionally helps support the ceramics GRC, especially to help students attend.

The ceramics GRC dates back to 1954 and was held yearly through 2008. At that time, it switched to an every-other-year schedule. One hallmark of the GRC is that it is by invitation (based on an application) and limited to only about 150 participants.

According to the GRC website, the conference franchise was founded “to promote discussions and the free exchange of ideas at the research frontiers.” Martha Mecartney, ACerS Fellow and organizer of the 2012 GRC, says, “Everyone attends the same session, stays on site, eats together in the cafeterias. There is also much time for discussion—for example, after a 40 minute invited talk, there would be 20 minutes of discussion, and much more informal discussion later in the evenings and in the late afternoons.”

Backhaus has put together an excellent program. Be sure to apply soon!


Feature image credit: GRC.