Physicists Determine How a Promising Lead-Free Material Works

Yousra Nahas
Photo Submitted

Yousra Nahas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Scientists seeking lead-free materials for use in sensors, actuators and ultrasonic motors have recently focused their efforts on a type of ceramic commonly referred to as BCZT. New research by physicists at the University of Arkansas sheds light on how this material works, providing insights that may result in other lead-free materials being developed as well.

The search for a lead-free alternative that generates a strong piezoelectrical response – the conversion of mechanical energy into electrical energy, and vice versa ­– at room temperature is, in part, due to restrictions on hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. BCZT, an abbreviation of the chemical compound barium calcium zirconate titanate, has shown promise, but to date scientists have not fully understood why.

“In BCZT, a lead-free material, the piezoelectric response has been measured to be very large while the microscopic origin of the effect remained a matter of debate,” said U of A research associate Yousra Nahas. “It became important to unveil the origin of the effect in order to better gear the properties of this material to the technological challenges.”

In a paper published June 20 in the journal Nature Communications, U of A researchers Nahas, Alireza Akbarzadeh, Sergei Prokhorenko, Sergei Prosandeev and Raymond Walter, along with Distinguished Professor of physics Laurent Bellaiche, created an atomic-level model of the BCZT material to unlock its piezoelectric secrets. They determined that its piezoelectric response originates from a structure that allows for easier fluctuations in polarization over a narrow temperature window around room temperature.

In addition to providing a deeper understanding of how BCZT works, the findings may point the way to creating other lead-free piezoelectric substances by mixing materials with desirable traits.

The research was done in collaboration with scientists from Luxembourg and France, and was financially supported by the Army Research Office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation. Simulations were performed at the Arkansas High Performance Computing Center.

Contacts

Yousra Nahas, Research Associate
Department of Physics
479-575-2506, ynahas@uark.edu

Bob Whitby, feature writer
University Relations
479-575-4737, whitby@uark.edu


Headlines

Tyson Family Adds $1 Million Gift During Dedication of Iconic Research Building

John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, announced a new gift during dedication ceremonies for the new Don Tyson Center for Agricultural Sciences.

U of A Faculty, Staff, Students Present Research at National Association Meeting

University of Arkansas faculty and staff members and graduate students took part recently in the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education annual conference in Memphis.

Exercise Science Doctoral Students to Talk About Their Research Friday

Wesley Haynie and Hyun-Gyu "Sean" Suh, doctoral students in exercise science, will give research presentations from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, in HPER 311.

MyDocs, Gizmo, SharePoint and Other Services Affected by Weekend Maintenance

On Saturday morning, MyDocs, Gizmo, SharePoint and other systems relying on the SQL server will be briefly interrupted during routine Windows Server maintenance.

Participants Needed for Study Examining Effect of Diet on Health in Families

The Department of Food Science is recruiting families, defined as at least one parent/guardian, with at least one child between the ages of 6-12 years to participate in a nutrition study.

Newswire Daily