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The piezoelectric materials produce an electric current when placed under mechanical stress and can be found in everything from our cell phones to musical greeting cards. However, they have their limitations.
Producing piezoelectric materials is usually an expensive process. It requires clean-rooms and a complex procedure that produces films and blocks which are connected to electronics after machining. Moreover the highly-useful materials are made of brittle crystal and ceramic and come in just a few selected shapes. Now scientists at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) claim that the piezoelectric material will be able to be 3D printed in ways that will not restrict them by shape or size.
Xiaoyu - Zheng - Assistant - Professor - Engineering
Xiaoyu 'Rayne' Zheng, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, and a member of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute, and his team have developed methods to 3D print piezoelectric materials that can be custom-designed to convert movement, impact and stress from any directions to electrical energy.
They developed a model that allows them to manipulate and design arbitrary piezoelectric constants, resulting in the material generating electric charge movement in response to incoming forces and vibrations from any direction, via a set of 3D printable topologies. The new technique also enables users to programme voltage responses to be magnified, suppressed or reversed in any direction.
Design - Method - Printing - Platform - Sensitivity
"We have developed a design method and printing platform to freely design the sensitivity and operational modes of piezoelectric materials," Zheng said.
"By programming the 3D active topology, you can achieve pretty much any combination of piezoelectric coefficients within a material, and use them as transducers and sensors that are not only flexible and strong, but also respond to pressure, vibrations and impacts via electric signals that tell the location, magnitude and direction of the impacts within any location of these materials."
Factor - Fabrication
A factor in current piezoelectric fabrication is...
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