Prof. James F. Scott (1942 – 2020)

Our community has recently lost one of its prominent pillars, when Prof. James F. Scott passed away.

Jim was an outstanding physicist, a true scholar, an honest person and with a unique life journey – the perfect receipt for inspirations.

I am glad to having known him as a mentor colleague and friend.

Yachin Ivry, IMF2021 Chair

There are many fun memories and interesting moments shared with Jim. Let us just mention one of them: the two days he came to Geneva to give a Seminar (Céline was a PhD student at the time – and very impressed to meet him). He was carrying a USB stick containing his presentation (the presentation had actually not been prepared by him but probably by Matt and Gustau in Cambridge at the time). Jean-Marc who was a Dean at the time organised a desk and computer for Jim – thinking « I need a few hours to take care of the Faculty of science – Jim, I am sure will be busy on this computer » Jim saw the computer and said something like « When I travel, I do not look at my mail » – Surprise « How do you do this Jim? Must be painful when you go back? » Answer: « No, I simply select all and delete, if important it may come back… » A great lesson from Jim.

Then, what happened is that Céline had to take care of Jim. They actually spent the whole time discussing about everything and anything (science, ferroelectrics, Russia, motorcycle and cutting wood, among other subjects), and he never even plugged in his USB key into the computer. When it was time for his talk, he was discovering his slides at the same time as us – and he managed to give a great talk for well over the 45 minutes allotted time – never going beyond slide number 2.

That’s how we like to remember Jim – as a very unique, interesting and talkative person.

We will miss Jim dearly.

Céline Lichtensteiger and Jean-Marc Triscone (University of Geneva)

Prof. Jim Scott, a great scientist in delving into ferroelectric mysteries, who enjoyed the Chinese culture and built up an East West Bridge in encouraging ferroelectric studies and communications.

Anquan Jiang (Fudan University)

A great scientist has left this Earth, but his legacy in science and technology will perdure.

James F. Scott (known as Jim) was born in Beverly, New Jersey-USA on May 4, 1942. He was a high school valedictorian student in New Jersey and subsequently graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in 1963. Jim received his PhD in physics from Ohio State University in 1966, performing science of materials using high resolution molecular spectroscopy. Following his PhD graduation, Jim worked for six years in the Quantum Electronics Research Laboratory at Bell Laboratories. In September 1971, he had joined Prof. Cochran’s Group at the University of Edinburgh to work in the area of Ferroelectrics.  He was then appointed professor of physics at the University of Colorado-Boulder  in 1972, where he had developed a research program investigating ferroelectric materials, using laser Raman spectroscopy. This research started the groundbreaking work of Jim on “integrated ferroelectrics”, that contributed to the development of ferroelectric random access memories (FeRAMs). He was a scientist interested in translating the science from the laboratory into devices that could make an impact in society. Therefore, he co-founded a company named Ramtron and latter Symetrix Corporation to develop FeRAMs, in collaboration with Dr. Carlos Paz de Araujo, The technology developed at Symetrix was licensed to Matsushita-Panasonic, resulting in smart cards (“Suica”), based on the Symetrix’s FeRAM technology, used extensively by people in Japan.  Following his work in Colorado-USA, Jim was appointed Dean at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology-Melbourne-Australia in 1992 and subsequently a similar appointment at the University of New South Wales in Sydney-Australia, in 1995. Jim worked as a visiting professor in Yokohama, based on an award from Sony. and latter in Germany, supported by a Humboldt Research Award.  In 1999, Jim was appointed professor at the University of Cambridge in England, focusing on his research and teaching in the field of multiferroics, magneto-electrics, and nanometric materials and their integration into devices. While working at Cambridge University, he had developed strong collaborations with the ferroelectric communities across the world, especially University of Puerto Rico (UPR) where he had frequently visited to interact not only with the researchers working on ferroelectrics but also to contribute towards the development of science and technology at UPR. After retiring from the Cambridge University in 2015, he had joined as a joint professor in Chemistry and Physics at the University of St Andrews.

Jim’s large number of articles (more than 700), in the field of science of ferroelectric materials and applications to FeRAMs and other devices were cited more than 20,000 times. Some of his papers (2 in 2007 and 3 in 2008) were chosen among the best twenty articles selected each year by the editors of Journal of Physics Condensed Matter. Other publications by Jim in high-impact journals include Physical Review Letters; Nature/Nature Materials, Nature Nanotechnology, Advanced Functional Materials, and Science. The first edition of Jim’s book entitled “Ferroelectric Memories” (Springer 2000) was sold out completely (800 copies), and the Chinese (Tsinghua Press, 2004) and Japanese (Springer-Japan, 2003) translations were also sold well.  With 2950 citations, the above book was the most cited text on ferroelectricity.

Jim was awarded the Materials Research Society gold medal in 2008 and Slovenia’s Jozef Stefan gold medal in 2009. He was a member of the American Physicals Society from 1974 and a member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts since 2011. In 2014 he was listed by Thomson Reuters as among the most cited physicist. In 2016 he was awarded the UNESCO medal for contributions to Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Jim was elected as a Fellow of Royal Society (FRS) in May 2008, for which the citation was “the father of integrated ferroelectrics,” defined as ferroelectric crystal memory thin films attached to silicon or GaAs computer chips.

James F. Scott died on April 6, 2020, but his legacy to the science and technology of ferroelectricity will live on and inspire future scientists and engineers.

Orlando Auciello, Distinguished Endowed Chair Professor, Univ. Texas-Dallas, MSEN/BMEN
Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Professor of Physics and Materials Science & Engineering, University of California-Berkeley
Ram S. Katiyar, Professor of Physics, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan
Marty Gregg, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queens University