Research Objectives

Center for Piezoelectrics by Design (L119)


The Center will conduct research into the theoretical prediction and experimental realization of new members of a unique class of materials, piezoelectrics, which convert sound waves into electrical signals, and back. Applications of piezoelectric materials include medical ultrasound devices and naval sonar. Advances in piezoelectric materials could dramatically improve the portability and performance of these and other systems based on transducers, the general term for devices that inter-convert electrical and mechanical energy.

The search for better piezoelectric materials has generally relied on costly and time consuming trial and error synthesis and testing of candidate materials. The Center for Piezoelectrics by Design will use computational modeling to develop new types of candidate materials and to screen them for desired properties before taking them into the laboratory.

All known high-performance piezoelectrics are structurally and chemically complex materials. The ability to reliably predict the properties of such materials by computational modeling is the result of steady advances in computational materials physics, and over a decade of ONR-supported theoretical research on ferroelectric and piezoelectric oxides and related materials. However, the design of piezoelectrics requires an unprecedented degree of cooperation among the participating scientists. The Center has been established to facilitate these efforts, with the construction of a special cluster of computers, specialized software support, and a regular schedule of team meetings.

Scientific Thrusts

Theory of Alloy Properties
New materials
New Theory and Algorithms

Participating Institutions:

Carnegie Institution of Washington
College of William & Mary
University of Arkansas
University of Pennsylvania
Rutgers University
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Funding Agency:

Office of Naval Research