Study challenges commonplace concepts about piezoelectricity in ferroelectric crystals


Schematics of area constructions of barium titanate single crystals (higher panel) and the corresponding piezoelectric coefficient as a perform of the area dimension and temperature (decrease panel), that are calculated by phase-field simulations. Credit: Chane Research Group, Penn State

For years, researchers believed that the smaller the area dimension in a ferroelectric crystal, the larger the piezoelectric properties of the fabric. However, current findings by Penn State researchers have raised questions on this commonplace rule.

Ferroelectric supplies possess spontaneous electrical dipole moments that may be reversibly flipped by making use of an electric field. Domains are areas within the ferroelectric crystal which have the dipole moments aligned in the identical course. Piezoelectricity is a fabric property the place the crystal generates electrical cost underneath an utilized mechanical power. This functionality permits piezoelectrics for use in electronics, sensors and actuators.

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“So many devices in our daily life utilize the ability of a material to convert electrical signals to mechanical signals and vice versa,” stated Bo Wang, postdoctoral scholar in supplies science and engineering. “In most of these applications, the piezoelectric material plays a key role. And the most advanced piezoelectric materials are the ferroelectric materials.”

At a microscopic scale, ferroelectric supplies include many domains, and these domains vary in dimension from a couple of nanometers to as a lot as millimeters. Each area consists of uniform or almost uniform distribution of dipole moments, which happen when there’s a separation of cost. The areas between adjoining domains are referred to as area partitions.

“The domain walls in ferroelectric crystals are interfaces with a very small thickness over which the dipole moments change their directions. It’s well known in the research community of ferroelectric materials that these domain walls have a strong influence on piezoelectricity,” Wang stated. “There is a general belief in the community that the smaller the domain size or higher the domain wall density, the larger the piezoelectric coefficient.”

However, the current work by Wang and his co-workers, printed in Advanced Materials, challenges this typical knowledge.

“Our theory and computation demonstrated that such a conventional view is actually not often correct,” Wang stated.

The researchers discovered that the concept smaller domains result in larger piezoelectricity is predicated on very restricted present information with no stable theoretical basis.

“Based on this conventional wisdom, many in the research community have tried to find ways to make all these domains smaller to enhance the piezoelectricity, and often when they see some improvement in the piezoelectric performance, one of the first things that comes to mind is maybe due to the smaller domains,” stated Long-Qing Chen, Hamer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, professor of engineering science and mechanics, and professor of arithmetic at Penn State. “Our work provides a theoretical foundation for correlating the piezoelectricity to crystal symmetry, crystal orientation, and domain configuration.”

In that paper, they referred to findings by different researchers that an AC electrical subject can enhance the piezoelectric response of the crystal by 20% to 40% in contrast with the crystal handled by a DC electrical subject. But the workforce found that contained in the crystal throughout AC switching cycles, the area sizes truly bought larger, not smaller as could be anticipated.

“We proposed a theoretical model of domain change under electric fields, we use computation to confirm it, and because of our simulation, we have shown that researchers in the future will have to look inside the crystal,” Chen stated. “The previous researchers showed that higher piezoelectric response is due to smaller domains, but they only looked at the surface. We showed computationally that actually, the domains became bigger with higher piezoelectricity, and that was found by examining under the crystal’s surface.”

According to Wang, this new understanding of the connection between ferroelectric crystal domain dimension and piezoelectricity can present steerage to enhance piezoelectric efficiency of supplies.

“We hope that this study allows people to rethink the design principles for piezoelectric materials, perhaps creating better piezoelectric materials in ways that were not thought possible before,” Wang stated. “This may enable better piezoelectrics made from lower-cost materials, or from materials that are more environmentally friendly.”

Along with Wang and Chen, the opposite creator on the examine was Fei Li, a earlier postdoctoral researcher in materials science and engineering at Penn State and now a full professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China.

Transparency discovered in crystals with ultrahigh piezoelectricity

More info:
Bo Wang et al, Inverse Domainā€Size Dependence of Piezoelectricity in Ferroelectric Crystals, Advanced Materials (2021). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202105071

Study challenges commonplace concepts about piezoelectricity in ferroelectric crystals (2021, November 17)
retrieved 17 November 2021

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