Science & Technology

Polarons, Belgian Waffles, Semiconductors Topic for USU Talk Oct. 16

By Mary-Ann Muffoletto |

2019-2020 Olsen Lecture speaker is Xiaoyang Zhu, Howard Family Professor of Nanoscience at Columbia University. Zhu speaks Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 4 p.m. in ESLC 046. His talk is open to all. Courtesy Mose Buchele, KUT News.

“Ferroelectric Polarons, Belgian Waffles and Principles for ‘Perfect’ Semiconductors” is the title of Utah State University’s 2019-2020 Richard Olsen Lecture Series talk, featuring Columbia University chemist Xiaoyang Zhu. All are invited to the lecture Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 4 p.m. in Room 046 of the Eccles Science Learning Center on campus.

“We’re excited to welcome a speaker of Dr. Zhu’s caliber to Utah State,” says Lance Seefeldt, professor and head of USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, which hosts the gathering. “His talk will appeal to scientists and engineers from many disciplines across campus.”

Zhu, Howard Family Professor of Nanoscience at Columbia, studies photophysics in nano, molecular and hybrid semiconductors and interfaces. The recipient of multiple accolades, including the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Award, an American Physical Society Fellowship, a Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship and the American Chemical Society’s Ahmed Zewail Award, Zhu is a scientific advisor to the Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Germany’s Max-Planck Society and Shanghai Tech University in China.

In his USU talk, Zhu will discuss how lead halide perovskites have been demonstrated as high performance materials in solar cells and light-emitting devices. He’ll discuss the essential physics in this class of materials, based on their dielectric functions and dynamic symmetry breaking on nano scales.

The Belgian waffles part of his talk? Well, the shape of the tasty breakfast confection happens to resemble that of ferroelectric large polarons, dynamic and local ordering of polar nano domains by an extra election or waffle-like indentation.
Zhu’s appearance is the twelfth lecture of the Richard Olsen Lecture Series, which was established in 2006 by the late USU Emeritus Professor Richard Olsen and his wife, LiVina Hymas Olsen. 

Olsen, who joined USU’s faculty in 1967, passed away in 2012.

The lectureship honors Olsen’s parents, Kenneth Beal Olsen and Sarah Young Olsen, who, Olsen said, “made many things possible.”

Olsen said the lectureship was also established in appreciation to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and to Utah State for providing him the opportunity to pursue his professional goals of teaching and research in the field of organic chemistry.

Parking for the lecture is available in the Aggie Parking Terrace at 700 E. 600 North in Logan. The parking terrace is located west of the Eccles Science Learning Center.

For more information about the lecture, contact USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at 435-797-1619.

USU Emeritus Professor Richard Olsen, who passed away in 2012, and his wife, LiVina Hymas Olsen, established the Olsen Lectureship in 2006 to provide students and faculty with opportunities to learn from and meet with distinguished scientists.


Mary-Ann Muffoletto
Public Relations Specialist
College of Science


Erin Russell
Office Manager
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

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