Purdue University Graduate School

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Methods for Improving the Piezoelectric and Energetic Performance of nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) Composites

posted on 2023-11-17, 13:33 authored by Cohen Thomas Ves NunesCohen Thomas Ves Nunes

Piezoelectric polymers and ceramics have applications throughout many fields, including their use as pressure sensors and transducers. Of the polymers, poly(vinylidene fluoride – trifluoroethylene) (P(VDF-TrFE)), has been the go-to for its high piezoelectric performance. With the addition of aluminum nanopowders (nAl), P(VDF-TrFE) acts as a binder and oxidizer, creating an energetic composite, a so-called piezoenergetic. However, this typically results in lower d33 coefficients and can have lower reactivity since ideal mixtures may short when poled. Here, we develop and demonstrate single-layer and multilayer polymer composite films with high piezoelectric and energetic content. We prepared single-layer thin film piezoelectric energetic composites of nAl and P(VDF-TrFE) and a combination of thermal annealing and poling at elevated temperatures enabled full poling of 9 wt.% nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) films with d33 of 22.7 pC/N that is comparable to P(VDF-TrFE) films. We also investigated the addition of barium titanate (BaTiO3) particles as a piezoelectric ceramic to enhance the d33 coefficient. In the neat polymer, BaTiO3 had differing effects depending on the particle size, with 200 nm particles improving the d33 coefficient more than the 1 μm particles. However, neither size of BaTiO3 particle had a substantial effect on the piezoelectricity in the 9 wt.% nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) films. We also prepared hot-pressed, three-layer “sandwich” P(VDF-TrFE) – 30 wt.% nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) – P(VDF-TrFE) composites, which had marginally lower d33 coefficients than the single-layer 9 wt.% nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) films. However, the 30 wt.% nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) sandwich films were far more energetic than the 9 wt.% nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) films, as confirmed by simultaneous differential scanning calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis (DSC/TGA) and deflagration studies. The single films will often fail to fully sustain a deflagration, while the sandwich films burn completely. In addition, we can ignite the sandwich samples with an electrical discharge making these films also useful in ignition applications. To demonstrate the use of piezoenergetic films, 9 wt.% nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) single layer and 30 wt.% nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) sandwich films were calibrated as pressure gauges using a mini drop weight setup, and then demonstrated as a pressure gage. The improvements in the piezoelectric coefficient of the 9 wt.% nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) single layer films, as well as the energetic performance in the form of the 30 wt.% nAl/P(VDF-TrFE) sandwich films strongly amplify the existing potential of these multifunctional composites in energetic and pressure sensing applications.




Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Steven F. Son

Additional Committee Member 2

Metin Örnek

Additional Committee Member 3

Sally P. M. Bane