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Giant electric-field-induced strains in lead-free ceramics for actuator applications – status and perspective

Abstract

In response to the current environmental regulations against the use of lead in daily electronic devices, a number of investigations have been performed worldwide in search for alternative piezoelectric ceramics that can replace the market-dominating lead-based ones, representatively Pb(Zr x Ti1-x )O3 (PZT)-based solid solutions. Selected systems of potential importance such as chemically modified and/or crystallographically textured (K, Na)NbO3 and (Bi1/2Na1/2)TiO3-based solid solutions have been developed. Nevertheless, only few achievements have so far been introduced to the marketplace. A recent discovery has greatly extended our tool box for material design by furnishing (Bi1/2Na1/2)TiO3-based ceramics with a reversible phase transition between an ergodic relaxor state and a ferroelectric with the application of electric field. This paired the piezoelectric effect with a strain-generating phase transition and extended opportunities for actuator applications in a completely new manner. In this contribution, we will present the status and perspectives of this new class of actuator ceramics, aiming at covering a wide spectrum of topics, i.e., from fundamentals to practice.

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Notes

  1. In the ferroelectric society, the term, incipient ferroelectrics, has been used to refer specifically to ‘quantum paraelectrics,’ [46] though the word ‘incipient’ has been used in many disciplines in a broader sense, e.g., the incipient stage of a fever in medicine [47], incipient cracks or incipient dislocations in mechanics [48], incipient phase separation in thermodynamics [49], etc. Here, the term ‘incipient’ is used, conforming to the definition as given in Oxford and Webster: ‘beginning to happen or develop.’ Likewise, the currently introduced class of materials can be termed as ‘incipient piezoceramics’ in that initially small piezoelectricity begins to develop with the application of electric field [50]. The relevance of designating incipient piezoceramics to the ceramics of current interest becomes apparent in the succeeding sections.

  2. Rigorously speaking, tensor notation is required in expressing the entities such as polarization, susceptibility, electric field, strain, etc., but is removed for simplicity here.

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Acknowledgments

WJ and JR wish to thank Dr. Xiaoli Tan and Dr. Baixiang Xu for critical review with helpful discussion. Authors acknowledge financial support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) under SFB 595/A1 project, by the Leibniz programme, and by the state center ADRIA.

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Jo, W., Dittmer, R., Acosta, M. et al. Giant electric-field-induced strains in lead-free ceramics for actuator applications – status and perspective. J Electroceram 29, 71–93 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10832-012-9742-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10832-012-9742-3

Keywords

  • Giant electric-field-induced strain
  • Lead-free piezoceramics
  • Incipient piezoelectric
  • Relaxor ferroelectric
  • Actuator
  • Bismuth sodium titanate
  • Electric-field-induced phase transition