There are two principal families of piezo materials: the PZT ceramic family, which lacks ductility, and the PVDF polymer family, which lacks temperature stability. The mentioned problems (amongst others) imply major intrinsic shortcomings for wide application in industrial and consumer products. The obvious solution is to combine the desirable properties of ceramics and polymers in polymer-ceramic piezo composites, in which the PZT ceramic powder provides the piezo functionality and the polymer matrix provides the ductility and other desirable mechanical and chemical functionalities.
In the SmartPie piezo composites research program a new set of piezo composites is under development. The optimum routes for incorporation of PZT particles into the polymer and the base processability of the mixture will be explored in this research. Also the influence of processing route on intrinsic material properties will be investigated. With these piezo composites the piezoelectric functions can be used in products that are manufactured with common polymer manufacturing techniques. The unique freeform capability allows for production of arbitrarely shaped sensors (and possibly actuators) that can easily be integrated or embedded in devices.
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