New polymer from ORNL has 10 times the piezoelectric effect of crystals and ceramics

Oct. 3, 2011
Oak Ridge, TN--The reverse piezoelectric effect is 10X stronger in a new polymer developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory than in crystals or ceramics.

Oak Ridge, TN--The reverse piezoelectric effectcreating a mechanical strain by applying an electrical voltage to a materialis ten times stronger in a new non-polar polymer developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory than in crystals or ceramics that exhibit this property, making it suitable for hundreds of everyday uses in motion control and positioning, energy storage devices, power sources, and biomedical devices.

"We thought about comparing the effects that we observed to more 'classic' piezoelectric materials and were surprised by how large the effects were by comparison," said Urban, a member of the Department of Energy lab's Neutron Scattering Science Division. Until now, scientists did not believe that non-polar polymers were capable of exhibiting any piezoelectric effect, which occurs only in non-conductive materials. This research, however, shows up to 10 times the measured electro-active response as compared to the strongest known piezoelectric materials, typically crystals and ceramics.

"We observed this effect when two different polymer molecules like polystyrene and rubber are coupled as two blocks in a di-block copolymer," Urban said.

The paper, titled "Piezoelectric Properties of Non-Polar Block Copolymers," was published recently as the cover article in Advanced Materials. In addition to Urban, other authors are Markus Ruppel and Jimmy Mays of ORNL and Kristin Schmidt of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Authors from Aachen University are Christian Pester, Heiko Schoberth, Clemens Liedel, Patrick van Rijn, Kerstin Schindler, Stephanie Hiltl, Thomas Czubak and Alexander Böker.

SOURCE: Oak Ridge National Laboratory; www.ornl.gov/info/press_releases/get_press_release.cfm?ReleaseNumber=mr20110922-00

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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