Piezoelectric ribbons printed onto rubber

piezoelectric ribbons on rubberThe development of a method for integrating highly efficient energy conversion materials onto stretchable, biocompatible rubbers could yield breakthroughs in implantable or wearable energy harvesting systems. Being electromechanically coupled, piezoelectric crystals represent a particularly interesting subset of smart materials that function as sensors/actuators, bioMEMS devices, and energy converters. Yet, the crystallization of these materials generally requires high temperatures for maximally efficient performance, rendering them incompatible with temperature-sensitive plastics and rubbers.

Scientists from the Princeton University and the California Institute of Technology have found a way to overcome these limitations by presenting a scalable and parallel process for transferring crystalline piezoelectric nanothick ribbons of lead zirconate titanate (PZT) from host substrates onto flexible rubbers over macroscopic areas. Fundamental characterization of the ribbons by piezo-force microscopy indicates that their electromechanical energy conversion metrics are among the highest reported on a flexible medium.

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