1995 Buessem Award Recipient
John M. Herbert began work on dielectrics in 1948, having spent ten years working on arc-carbons and dry batteries and earning a first-class degree in chemistry. That year he passed on to a pilot plant a barium titanate composition with a K of 4000 and a steep negative TCC at room temperature, but with minimal loss, voltage, and frequency sensitivity, and low aging properties; it was produced commercially for the next ten years. In 1950, multilayer units with palladium electrodes were manufactured in small quantity. Development in the early 1950s of a low-loss piezoelectric composition based on cobalt doped barium titanate led to an interest in transition element additives. Manganese was found to permit firing in strongly reducing atmospheres so nickel could be used for electrodes in multilayer stacks.
In the following years, John managed a small research division, which worked on a wide range of projects—dense silicon nitride for engine components, electro-optic and pyroelectric ceramics, infrared imaging, reed-relay and contact breaker contacts, magnetostrictive ferrites, bubble memories, plated wire memories, electrolytic capacitors, thin film components, etc. Meanwhile, a deep interest in ferroelectrics enabled him to write two specialist books when he retired. A later effort with Tony Moulson of the Leeds University Ceramics Department, aimed at undergraduates, was of wider interest.
In 1991 he was elected a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, which was a very pleasant accolade from his peers.
Outside research, he indulged an admiration for Voltaire by digging his garden, sailed a dinghy on the local reservoir, and still takes a dilettante interest in architecture. Wife, daughter, and two grandchildren have kept him in touch with the outside world.
The Center for Dielectric Studies presented Dr. Herbert with the Wilhelm R. Buessem Award at the CDS Awards Dinner on October 19, 1995.