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Past Winner
2006 NSERC Doctoral Prize

Yonghong Bing

Solid State Inorganic Chemistry

Simon Fraser University

Yonghong Bing
Yonghong Bing

Research into piezoelectricity has come a long way since first being demonstrated in 1880 by brothers Jacques and Pierre Curie using tinfoil, glue, wire, magnets, and a jeweller's saw.

Today, Dr. Yonghong Bing of Simon Fraser University (SFU) is breaking new ground with her work on piezoelectric crystals, with applications that include advances in such areas as medical ultrasound diagnostics and sonar listening devices.

Piezoelectricity is the ability of certain crystals to generate a voltage in response to applied mechanical stress. The term, derived from the Greek word "piezein," means to squeeze or press.

In the search for new materials with high piezoelectric performance, the recent SFU chemistry graduate has successfully created a new family of piezocrystals.

These are potentially promising for electromechanical transducer (sensor and actuator) applications. There are many industrial and commercial applications for transducers, including medical diagnostics and therapy, active machine tool control, vibration suppression, and undersea communication.

Dr. Bing's doctoral research, under the supervision of Dr. Zuo-Guang Ye, found that deforming piezoelectric crystals by subjecting them to externally applied voltage caused them to generate short blips of relatively high-voltage electricity.

This deformation has useful applications in producing and detecting sound, generating high voltages, generating electronic frequencies, microbalancing, and ultra-fine focusing of optical assemblies.

"This property can be applied to the devices that generate ultrasound pulses and receive the returning echoes, generating a series of dots which is then converted into an image on the display," Dr. Bing explains. In addition, the property can be used in equipment that produces movement when given a signal.

"If the property can be greatly enhanced and operated in a wide temperature range, it would improve everything from the resolution, sensitivity, and bandwidth of ultrasound machines to the range of sonar listening devices," says Dr. Bing, winner of a 2006 NSERC Doctoral Prize, one of Canada's premier graduate student awards.

Dr. Bing, who grew up in Jinan, Shandong in the eastern part of China, continues her research at SFU as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow.