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PROFESJON-Forskningskompetanse for utvalgte profesjonsutdanninger

Advanced Piezoelectric Devices

Alternative title: Avanserte piezoelektriske komponenter

Awarded: NOK 10.0 mill.

Piezoelectricity is the phenomenon that some materials can respond electrically to a mechanical influence, or alternatively, respond mechanically to an electrical influence. For example, a slab of a piezoelectric material may deform when you apply a voltage across it. This coupling between the electrical and the mechanical domain has made numerous electronic devices possible. Some well known examples of uses are quartz-crystal resonators in quartz watches, probes used in ultrasound diagnosis and ink-jet printer heads. The numerous technological applications make piezoelectric devices interesting research subjects in the engineering sciences and economically important for many businesses. There is a significant number of high-technology companies in Norway that have piezoelectric devices as part of their core technology. They encompass as diverse applications as signal processing in satellites, sonars, medical diagnostics and tunable lenses. The primary objective of this strategic project is to strengthen piezoelectric devices as a research topic at the University of South-Eastern Norway. We have three focus-areas for the study. One is piezoelectric thin-films for higher performance analog signal processing. We study new methods to design and fabricate devices based on thin piezoelectric films. Another is electronic interfaces to piezoelectric transducers in order to enable remote powering of electronic devices by ultrasonic power transfer. The third is thin-film transducers for actuators in optical systems such as cameras. An aluminum nitride deposition process using magneto sputtering on Sapphire substrates for producing high crystallinity piezoelectric films has been established. These substrates are now used for device fabrication for high frequency operation as well as high temperature applications. Devices on aluminum nitride and sapphire fabricated by an industrial partner are now tested in the laboratory. Parallel to this, process development for bulk acoustic wave are in progress. The work on acoustic power transfer has focused on wake-up circuits for the underwater sensor and results have been published. One solution has an ideal power consumption in the nanowatt range, which is the lowest that has been reported in the literature. Much work has been done on modeling and optimization of circuit solutions for the wake-up circuits. The promising circuits have been laid out and are now fabricated in an external service. A new test setup for acoustic power transfer with piezoelectric transducers that allow us to test a wide range of configurations has been built. New theory that captures the development of anticlastic deformation of piezoelectric beams under large deflections has been developed and published. Characterization and modelling og piezoelectic thin-film transducers have been conducted for a variety of electrode structures. Structures with electrodes patterned on both sides of the piezoelectric film revealed anomalous electrical behaviour. A new, effective method for characterization of vibration modes in actuators that require measurement only in a few points has been developed. New course material has been developed on piezoelectric accelerometers and piezoelectric resonators for a master's level subject. Furthermore, some curriculum development has been accomplished in an advanced subject on piezoelectric components. Development of lab assignments on piezoelectric components for our courses has been problematic due to the pandemic, but it has been possible to involve master and bachelor students in some of the research problems. Some of this is also conveyed through open lectures. In addition we have offered a problem to a group of high-school students as a dissemination activity. The work is carried out at Department of Microsystems, Campus Vestfold in collaboration with three companies in Horten and other research institutions both in Norway and overseas.

The piezoelectric effect was discovered by Pierre and Jacques Curie in 1880 and is the phenomenon that some materials experience an electrical polarization change when a mechanical stress is applied. This is called the direct effect. A piezoelectric material also exhibits the converse effect, which is that it deforms when an electrical field is applied. This coupling between the electrical and the mechanical domain has made numerous electronic devices possible. Best known among laypersons is probably the quartz-crystal resonator that has been the basis for quartz watches for several decades. The probes used in ultrasound diagnosis are usually also based on piezoelectric materials. The numerous technological applications make piezoelectric devices interesting research subjects in the engineering sciences and economically important for many businesses. There is a significant number of high-technology companies in Norway that have piezoelectric devices as part of their core technology. They encompass as diverse applications as signal processing in satellites, sonars, medical diagnostics and tunable lenses. In this project, we have chosen three focus-areas for study. One is piezoelectric thin-films for higher performance analog signal processing where the challenge is to simultaneously have low loss, strong coupling and high frequency. Another is electronic interfaces to piezoelectric transducers in order to enable remote powering of electronics devices by ultrasonic power transfer. This approach has challenges connected to effectiveness and low-power operation. The third is thin-film transducers for sensors and actuators where better models are needed in order to extract material parameters and improve designs, and where new ways to make the transducers are of interest.

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PROFESJON-Forskningskompetanse for utvalgte profesjonsutdanninger

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