Department: NanoEngineering
Research Institute Affiliation: Graduate Program in Chemical Engineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Donald J. Sirbuly

Primary Student
Name: James Lance Middlebrook
Email: jmiddleb@ucsd.edu
Phone: 858-822-4143
Grad Year: 2019

Student Collaborators
Jeffrey Chen, jec129@ucsd.edu

Piezoelectric materials have proven useful in sensing and power generation applications due to their ability to generate charge as a response to mechanical stresses. The majority of these materials take the form of brittle ceramics such as lead zirconate titanate (PZT) which, due to their high fragility, have significantly restricted applications. That obstacle can be circumvented through the use of next generation piezoelectric polymeric composite materials. These composites are able to produce similar signals while holding several advantages such as flexibility, biocompatibility, and improved robustness. Our current work has been to create porous foam-like composites and intricate 3D printed microstructures. Through the use of a unique sucrose templating method, porous macro-scale piezoelectric polymer composites are formed by incorporating materials such as barium titanate (BaTiO3), polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), and carbon nanotubes to yields robust and compressible devices. It is possible to integrate these simple yet powerful porous materials into a wider range of products by instilling desirable properties including force sensitivity and impact detection into conventional products such as packaging materials or wearable devices. We have also been able to demonstrate 3D printed microstructures of piezocomposites to incorporate the advantages of both piezoelectric ceramic nanoparticle and polymer properties. Through the use of targeted UV polymerization or cross-linking polymers of polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEGDA) and polycarbonates, a repeating array of intricate microstructures can be efficiently produced in seconds which entrap the nanoparticles. Complex structures can be created through this projection printing masking method which would be unfeasible through conventional ceramic piezoelectrics sculpting methods. The projection printing method allows for these piezoelectric composite materials to be a strong choice for force monitoring and pressure sensing applications in nano and microelectromechanical systems (NEMS, MEMS).

Industry Application Area(s)
Electronics/Photonics | Energy/Clean technology | Materials

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