Report on the 16th International Symposium on Electrets (ISE 16)

September 4–7, 2017, Leuven, Belgium

Conference picture in front of the Paus College

The 16th International Symposium on Electrets (ISE 16) was held in Leuven (Belgium). It took place in historical buildings of the University of Leuven.

The Promotiezaal of the University’s main building was the venue for most of the technical sessions and the workshop.
Welcome party on September 3 in the Jubileumzaal.

The symposium was followed by an inspiring workshop entitled: “Ferroelectric polymers for flexible electronics” held on 7 and 8 Sept. The symposium and the workshop attracted 100 and 55 participants respectively, from 25 countries of North Africa, North and South-America, Europe and Asia.

The symposium started with a welcome party on Sunday, Sept. 3 in the Jubileumzaal, a prestigious hall at the University main building that dates back to 1317. It  also served as the location for two poster sessions, technical exhibitions, coffee breaks and lunches. The nearby Promotiezaal, a spacious auditorium that combines architectural heritage with state-of-the-art audio-visual facilities, was the stage for 52 plenary lectures as well as the 4 tutorials of the workshop.

The chairman, Michael Wübbenhorst, handing over the certificate of the Bernhard Gross Memorial Award to Reimund Gerhard.

With the 16th edition of the ISE, the electret community celebrated the 50th anniversary of a series of successful meetings dedicated to research on the long term charge storage in dielectrics that started in Chicago in 1967. Since then, ISE meetings were held in Miami (USA, 1972), São Carlos (Brazil, 1975), Tokyo (Japan, 1978), Heidelberg (Germany, 1985), Oxford (United Kingdom, 1988), Berlin (Germany, 1991), Paris (France, 1994), Shanghai (China, 1996), Delphi (Greece, 1999), Melbourne (Australia, 2002), Salvador (Brazil, 2005), Tokyo (Japan, 2008), Montpellier (France, 2011) and Baltimore (USA, 2014). The ongoing success of these conferences proofs that the research on electrets and related phenomena, from both the fundamental and applied point of view, is still relevant for a variety of electro and opto-active dielectric matters such as charge storage and transport, piezo- and pyroelectric effects and thermally stimulated phenomena. On the other hand, ISE meetings manage to maintain their relevance and attraction  by widening their scope to recent and emerging topics like organic (flexible) electronics, energy harvesting, often at a mini-scale in wearables, electro-active dielectric elastomers, soft actuators operated by flexible electrodes, electrets made with artificial microstructures, nonvolatile memories, etc.

The scientific program of the ISE 16 addressed these emerging fields of electret research. It consisted of 13 oral and two poster sessions, with a total of 98 contributions distributed over 9 main themes. These  were: charge related phenomena, bio-electrets, dielectric relaxation spectroscopy, energy harvesting, thermally stimulated phenomena, soft transducers and optical effects, organic electronics, piezo, pyro, ferro-electrets, and piezoelectric phenomena. In the plenary sessions, 13 invited lectures were given by leading scientists along with 39 oral presentations and 4 invited tutorials at the workshop. Professor Reimund Gerhard from the University of Potsdam opened the scientific program  by presenting the Gross Memorial Lecture entitled “But they do move: electret charges on dielectrics enable electromechanical transduction”. With this 5th Bernhard Gross Memorial Award his excellent contributions to the field of electrets, ferroelectrets and electromechanically active polymers were acknowledged. 

Heinz von Seggern and Jose Alberto Giacometti in discussion

The program was complemented by a couple of social activities and moments, where the participants could enjoy the Belgium cultural and culinary highlights. Two poster sessions on Monday and Tuesday for instance were “topped-up” with a variety of Begium beers, all sponsored by the famous Brewery Duvel Moortgat. 

Visit to the Grand Place with Brussels Town hall, the King’s House and other monuments.

On Wednesday afternoon, a bus brought the participants to Brussels, the capital of Belgium and Europa, along many landmarks and must-have-seen places such as the Atomium and iconic buildings of the European quarter. The inner downtown was then explored by means of a guided city walk. 

Young researchers and members of the local committee at the conference banquet.
Indre Urbanaviciute giving an eminent presentation, in the session on “Organic electronics” chaired by the late Siegfried Bauer.
Sarah Guerin delivering her prize-winning Das-Gupta lecture.
Poster session in the Jubileumzaal. On the left, Das-Gupta poster prize winner Tim Cornelissen
The chairman of the upcoming ISE17 invites the Electret community to Limerick, Ireland, in 2019.

During the conference banquet, held in the Faculty club, which is part of the UNESCO world heritage site Groot Begijnhof, the 2017’s Dilip Das-Gupta award was presented for the best presentation by a young scientist. This prize was granted to Sarah Guerin (Limerick, Ireland) for her oral presentation “First principles design of organic piezoelectric devices”, and to Tim Cornelissen (Linköping, Sweden) for his poster contribution “Intermediate polarization states in organic ferroelectrics”. 

The ISE Scientific Advisory Committee met on the evening of Sept. 5, where the recipients of the Dilip Das-Gupta awards were chosen. Two prominent SAC members wrote the Chair that they wish to retire: Prof. Fleming (who organized ISE11) and Prof. Henn (who organized ISE 14). We welcomed a new bright member Dr. Dorina Opris (EMPA, Dübendorf, Switzerland). The pros and cons of combining ISE with other conferences covering topics close to the interest of the ISE community were discussed. It was further decided to hold ISE18 in China, it will be hosted by Prof. Xiaoqing Zhang.

Acknowledgements: we like to extend our thanks to Mrs. Danielle Verachtert, Dr. Tristan Putzeys, Dr. Peter Cornelis and the late Prof. Siegfried Bauer as members of the organizing committee for their effective and dedicated job in organizing the ISE 16. We  like to thank all PhD students from the Soft Matter and Biophysics sectionas well . We are also indebted to the KU Leuven for sponsoring the ISE 16 by providing the conference facilities.

Xiaoqing Zhang (in the middle) will organize ISE18 in China in 2021.
Siegfried Bauer†, Martin Kaltenbrunner and Jan van Turnhout in discussion during the workshop on Friday.

We are further grateful to Professors Reimund Gerhard, Axel Mellinger, and Francois Henn and other former chairmen and to members of the Scientific Committee for their advice during the preparation of the symposium.

Jacques Lewiner, Reimund Gerhard, Syed Tofail and Sydney Lang during the poster session on Monday.

Two interesting exhibitions were part of the symposium, viz. from Novocontrol Technologies and from Princeton Applied Research and Solartron Analytical. 

Finally, we  like to thank Prof. Paul Lewin, President, Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society, who initiated a discussion on the relevance of “Smart Materials” for IEEE and, Prof. Davide Fabiani, IEEE –DEIS Meetings Chair. We further appreciate the kind co-operation with the former and current TDEI Editor-in-Chief Prof. Reuben Hackam and Prof. Edward Cherney, who directed the publication of the special issue on “Electrets and Related Phenomena” devoted to ISE16 in IEEE-TDEI, 25 (2018) 757-844.

Many of us lost on Dec. 30 2018 a dear friend. We like to dedicate this Report to the remembrance of Professor Siegfried Bauer, who brought us so many new ground breaking ideas.

Michael Wübbenhorst, ISE16 General Chair,
Jan van Turnhout, ISE16, General Vice Chair