July 14, 2016

Piezoelectric materials have existed for more than 60 years, but are commercially available only as fragile ceramics or as very expensive plastics. This restricts their use and limits design freedom.

Recently, Delft University of Technology’s group for Novel Aerospace Materials [TU Delft NovAM] reached a breakthrough developing a new piezo material: a structured composite of ceramic piezo powder within a polymer matrix. Inherently flexible, these “piezo plastics” are the ideal touch-sensitive material. This mix of components can be tuned for specific applications. With this brand new technology, the features of the piezo plastic can be designed.

Moreover, in summer 2015 NovAM showed that this new piezo plastic even works with lead-free base materials: the properties of the material for sensing applications matches the performance of lead containing composites with a significantly reduced amount of piezo ceramic powder. The material is highly flexible and can be used in the newly developed LTM products. Promising directions for future research (apart from further upscaling) concern the suitability for applications requiring haptic feedback, as well as using 3D printing as a manufacturing method for the new piezo plastics, allowing larger form freedom.

In detail, the material consists of a composite of nicely formed cubical particles of potassium sodium lithium niobate (KNLN) which are formed by a novel synthesis method. These particles are oriented into chains inside the matrix of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) using dielectrophoresis forming the new sensor material.


Research team: Daniella Deutz, Neola Mascarenhas, Nijesh James, Sybrand van der Zwaag, Pim Groen

Corresponding Author: W.A.Groen@tudelft.nl

You can find the Lead Free Piezo Composite also on Material ConneXion online database: MC # 7662-01.


For more details about the Lead Free Piezo Composite find below a list of scientific papers published within the LTM project:

Piezoelectric lead zirconium titanate composite touch sensors for integration with flexible OLED technology

D. B. Deutz, E. Tempelman, S. van der Zwaag, W. A. Groen 
Ferroelectrics Vol. 480, Iss. 1, 2015 


High piezoelectric voltage coefficient in structured lead-free (K,Na,Li)NbO3 particulate-epoxy composites 

N. K. James, D. B. Deutz, R. Bose, S. van der Zwaag, W. A. Groen 
Accepted: Journal of the American Ceramic Society 2016 


Exploring the piezoelectric performance of PZT particulate-epoxy composites loaded in shear 

F. Van Loock, D. B. Deutz, S. van der Zwaag, W. A. Groen 
Accepted: Smart Materials and Structures 2016 


Enhancing energy harvesting potential via Li substitution of (K,Na,Li)NbO3-epoxy composites 

D. B. Deutz, N. T. Mascarenhas, S. van der Zwaag, W. A. Groen 
Submitted: Journal of the American Ceramic Society 2016