In Memoriam

Leslie Eric Cross (1923-2016)

The international ferroelectrics community will be very saddened to learn of the passing of Professor L. Eric Cross at his home in University Park, Pennsylvania, USA on December 28, 2016. Eric was born in 1923 in Morley, Yorkshire, England. He studied physics at Leeds University in the UK, graduating with BSc and PhD degree in 1952. The very simple PhD thesis title which became part of his whole career was “Ferroelectric Phenomenon.” Dr. Cross began his research career studying dielectric and ferroelectric materials at the British Electrical Research Association.

In the early 1960's, Dr. Cross accepted an offer from Professor Rustum Roy to take up an academic position at Pennsylvania State University and successively served as Associate Professor, Professor and Assistant Director of the Materials Research Laboratory (MRL). In 1972, he was appointed as the Associate Director of MRL and subsequently became the Director of MRL (1983) where he remained until he formally retired from this administrative position in 1988. Retirement was in effect only from his administrative duties. He continued to be as active as ever pursuing his research in ferroelectricity and related phenomena until a few years before his death.

Professor Eric Cross's research career spanned almost six decades. It was wide and deep. It covered basic and applied research on ferroelectrics and related materials. He published over 850 refereed papers, with his first paper (co-authored with B.J. Nicholson et al.) entitled ‘Optical studies of Barium titanate’ published in the journal Nature in 1949. His other important work on Sodium Niobate, was also co-authored by B.J. Nicholson, and published by Taylor and Francis in 1955 in the Philosophical Magazine Series 7. And his last book, Domains in Ferroic Crystals and Thin Films, he co-authored with Dr. Alexander Tagantsev and the late Dr. Jan Fousek and was published by Springer in 2010. Many of his publications, like those listed above are considered major contributions and have received large number of citations. They include papers that contain very significant and original research on the properties and applications of barium titanate, potassium sodium niobate, lead zirconium titanate, lead lanthanum zirconate titanate, lead magnesium niobate and related compositions, bismuth titanate, gadolinium molybdate and polyvinyledene fluoride. The properties studied included ferroelectric, piezoelectric, electrostrictive, pyroelectric, dielectric, and electroptic behaviour. The materials studied were in various forms: single crystals, thin films, ceramics, composites, glasses and polymers. Professor Cross was also involved in the multidisciplinary applications of ferroelectrics to sensors and actuators.

Under Professor Eric Cross's leadership, the Materials Research Laboratory at Penn State University became the leading international research institute for Ferroelectricity and Related Phenomena in the USA and one of the leading centres in the scientific world. The reasons for this are that in addition to and because of his own incredible lifetime of scientific achievements summarized above, Professor Cross was able to develop at MRL sustainable expertise in a wide range of basic and applied research on ferroelectric and related materials.

This was done by:
1. Being able to attract some of the top quality scientific researchers in the USA and around the world to staff MRL.
2. Establishing excellent relationships with US Government Agencies, such as ONR, AROD, AFROWP, DARPA, NSF and Sandia and Commercial Companies such as Clevite, Phillips, Corning Glass, Rockwell Int. and Plessey (UK) that provided significant financial support for MRL.
3. Developing close working relationships with many of the key Universities, Government and Commercial Research Institutes involved in ferroelectrics and related materials in other parts of the world. The latter included: China, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Over the course of his long and prestigious academic career of 65 years, Professor Eric Cross received many awards and honours. These included: The Evan Pugh Professorship of Electrical Engineering - the highest award of Pennsylvania State University and the Von Hippel Award of the Materials Research Society. He was elected a Member of the US National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the following societies: the American Physical Society, the IEEE, the Materials Research Society, the American Ceramic Society and the Optical Society of America. He helped organize the International Meetings on Ferrolectricity (IMF series) and the IEEE subcommittee on Ferroelectrics and the Symposia on the Applications of Ferroelectrics. He served continuously on the Editorial Board of the International Journal Ferroelectrics from its founding in 1970. In 1988, a Special Issue of the Journal on Ferroelectric Materials and their Applications to Sensors was dedicated to Professor Cross on the occasion of his 65th Birthday (Ferroelectrics Volume 87, 1988). In addition many countries outside of the USA have awarded him honorary degrees and special awards in recognition of his dedicated service to the international ferroelectrics community.

Professor Eric Cross was a great teacher. He supervised, advised and most importantly inspired the research programs of more than 60 PhD and approximately 100 MS students spread over three generations. All his students, colleagues and others that worked with him enjoyed his warm personality and his subtle humour. He was a pragmatic optimist. A favourite saying that many of his students remember was "If I can't do, I can't do and I sleep well at night."; This was a measure of his sincerity and how he dealt with everyday riddles, disappointments and many multifaceted problems of life. Eric and his wife Cilla (Lucilla) enjoyed a very happy family life with their six children, Peter, Matthew, Daniel, Rebecca, Rachel and Elizabeth. Visitors and Graduate Students were always warmly welcomed at their University Park home.

The many members of the international community who knew Eric Cross will always remember him as a very kind and generous man who made outstanding contributions to our knowledge of ferroelectricity.

Amar S. Bhalla
University of Texas, San Antonio, Texas, USA
George W. Taylor
Princeton Resources, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Text published on FERROELECTRICS 2017, VOL. 507, 1-3 (


Jan Fousek (1930-2016)

Professor Jan Fousek passed away on September 4th, 2016. He was one of the most prominent researchers in the field of ferroelectricity over the past 50 years. Due to his pioneering work in ferroelectric domains and domain walls, optical and electro-optical properties of improper and pseudoproper ferroelectrics, as well as ferroelectric phase transition studies, Professor Fousek had influenced generations of ferroelectric-related researchers around the world. For more information about the life and scientific contributions of Professor Fousek, please go to the following webpage: More information regarding the special activities in honor of Professor Fousek at the IMF2017 will provided in the near future.

Hans Schmid (1931-2015)

Professor Hans Schmid, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Geneva, passed away on April 2nd, 2015. Professor Schmid had a pioneering and very important contribution in the field of multiferroic materials once he reported the synthesis of the first single crystal that presented simultaneously ferroelectric, ferroelastic and (weak)ferromagnetic behavior. Professor Schmid made important contributions by developing a comprehensive symmetry-based classification of ferroics and their coupling effects, introducing the concept of ferrotoroidicity as a new type of ferroic order. For more information about the life and scientific contributions of Professor Schmid, please go to the following webpage:

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