VIRGINIA TECH 3D PRINTS DEVICES THAT GENERATE ELECTRICITY FROM IMPACT

3D Printing Industry | 1/22/2019 | Tia Vialva
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A new 3D printing discovery at Virginia Tech is poised to change the way we design sensors and low-power generators.

A team lead by associate professor Xiaoyu ‘Rayne’ Zheng has succeeded in creating piezoelectric structures that can take on any shape or form. By enabling such flexibility, the researchers are now free to create a range of objects capable of generating electricity, monitoring impact, or sensing the environment around them, without the use of multiple leads or connectors.

Huachen - Cui - Student - Zheng - Author

Huachen Cui, a doctoral student under Zheng and first author named on a study detailing the discovery explains, “Traditionally, if you wanted to monitor the internal strength of a structure, you would need to have a lot of individual sensors placed all over the structure,”

“HERE, THE STRUCTURE ITSELF IS THE SENSOR – IT CAN MONITOR ITSELF.”

Piezoelectricity - Charge - Materials - Stress - Strain

Piezoelectricity is the electric charge that occurs in certain ceramic and crystalline materials when stress or strain is applied. One common example application of piezoelectric materials is quartz wristwatches.

In a quartz watch a small electric charge is supplied to a quartz crystal by the battery. This causes the crystal to vibrate, and the rate of vibration translates to a movement of the hands (ticking) to keep time.

Piezoelectricity - Inkjet - Printheads - Droplet - Deposition

Piezoelectricity is also harnessed in some inkjet printheads, for precise droplet deposition, or “droplet on demand” technology.

The materials used to generate piezoelectricity however are inherently brittle. They require controlled, clean-room environments for manufacturing, and the materials’ atoms are typically fixed, making them unsuitable for shaping into flexible structures.

Fabrication - Challenges - Materials - Virginia - Tech

To overcome the fabrication challenges of piezoelectric materials, the Virginia Tech team have formulated an ink made from nanocrystals and a UV-sensitive gel. Zheng explains, “We have synthesized a class of highly...
(Excerpt) Read more at: 3D Printing Industry
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