Distinguished Alumni Awards

Gene H. Haertling

Gene H. Haertling
To Gene H.Haertling, for his pioneering work in ferroelectrics and electrooptic ceramic materials and devices.

Bishop Distinguished Professor of Ceramic Engineering (Retired), Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina

  • BS, 1954, Ceramic Engineering, University of Missouri-Rolla
  • MS, 1960, Ceramic Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • PhD, 1961, Ceramic Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 During his more than 45-year career, Gene H. Haertling has had a tremendous scientific impact on business and industry. His discoveries have played a part in the invention and refining of many everyday products—cellular telephones and piezoelectric loudspeakers, photocopiers, fax machines, cameras, and military equipment, including flight goggles used in defense aircraft.

Often referred to as the “Grandfather of PLZT,” Haertling developed the first transparent ferroelectric ceramics, PLZT (lead lanthanum zirconate titanate) materials at Sandia National Laboratory. In 1973, he founded his own company, Optoceram, Inc., which developed and manufactured high quality electronic and electro-optic ceramics. Within a year, the company’s success caught the eye of several corporations. He sold the company to Motorola, staying on as vice president of its technical staff and manager of the ceramic research group, developing piezoelectric ceramics for speaker and medical applications, and low-loss filter materials for cellular phones.

Haertling was recognized in TIME Magazine (May 1970) for the development of PLZT optical ceramics, and he is coauthor of the fourth most cited paper in the history of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society. He has published 86 technical papers, three book chapters, and he is a partner on 12 patents.

In 1987, he returned to the classroom, joining the faculty at the University of Missouri- Rolla. He later moved to Clemson University, where he developed the RAINBOW ceramic actuators. His honors include the Sigma Xi Research Award from Clemson University in 1991, NASA Public Service Medal in 1993, and the R&D 100 Award for Rainbow High Displacement Actuators for Clemson in 1994.

He is a member of the National Academy of Engineers, a Distinguished Life Member of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS), and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He is also a member of the National Institute of Ceramic Engineers, Sigma Xi, and the Materials Research Society. He has served as the associate editor for the Journal of the American Ceramic Society.

Haertling is the recipient of the 2006 Alumni Award for Distinguished Merit from the University of Illinois Materials Science and Engineering Alumni Association.

Current as of 2007.