This grant will support research that will contribute new knowledge relates to the design and manufacture of next-generation flexible electronic devices. The work will advance fundamental understanding of process-structure-property relationships of a bi-continuous piezoelectric composite, an emerging flexible material with potentially high efficiency in converting mechanical energy into electrical signals. A bi-continuous piezoelectric composite is composed of a ceramic phase and a polymer phase, continuously interconnected in three dimensions (3D). Until now, bi-continuous piezoelectric composites can only be achieved in the form of an open-porosity ceramic structure impregnated by polymers, whose properties cannot be controlled accurately and reliably. By utilizing additive manufacturing methods, this research will provide new knowledge on how properties of a bi-continuous piezoelectric composite can be accurately tuned through careful control of its micro- and meso-structure via additive manufacturing. This new knowledge will enable the development of next-generation piezoelectric devices that are low cost and lightweight, with a wide range operating temperatures, high mechanical flexibility and advanced electromechanical performance. This award will also enhance the infrastructure for research and education in the states of Iowa and Mississippi through activities designed to attract students from underrepresented groups and K-12 students to STEM disciplines.
The objective of this research program is to uncover new fundamental knowledge for the design and manufacture of bi-continuous piezoelectric composites with controlled properties via additive manufacturing. The first research objective is to understand the fundamental mechanisms of porous microstructure formation in bi-continuous piezoelectric composites during additive manufacturing. To achieve this research objective, a phase-field-modeling method will be established to generate bi-continuous piezoelectric composite designs with 3D interconnected phase interfaces of desired connectivity. The second research objective is to quantify the effect of phase morphologies such as phase interfacial geometry on the piezoelectric properties of an additively manufactured bi-continuous piezoelectric composite with identified porous microstructures incorporated in the ceramic phase. To achieve this research objective, a two-scale computational model will be constructed to predict the piezoelectric properties of additively manufactured bi-continuous piezoelectric composites with predefined 3D phase interfaces. The computational model will be validated through characterizing piezoelectric properties of selected bi-continuous piezoelectric composite structures.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.