Characterisation of Generation II/III Piezoelectric Single Crystals for use in Sonar Transducers

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Engineering


Single crystal relaxor ferroelectrics have shown a strong temperature dependence to the piezoelectric coefficient as well as dynamics over an unprecedented frequency range. The main objective of this work is to understand the origin of the exceptional dielectric properties of these materials through studying the structural response in these systems as a function of both temperature and frequency. This project will aim to characterize these two aspects through the application of neutron scattering (through the University of Edinburgh) and dielectric measurements (University of Glasgow). The project will also investigate the application of negative muons for chemical and valence determination in bulk single crystalline materials.

Neutron scattering is a bulk and non-destructive probe of materials resulting from the fact that neutrons interact with material via weak forces with the nuclei. This affords beam penetration depths on the order of centimeters and this has been exploited for characterization of industrial components for engineering. Neutrons are produced at reactors and accelerators with wavelengths and energy scales that match typical excitations of materials. In particular, lattice excitations (termed phonons) can be measured as a function of momentum and energy transfer distinguishing neutrons over other "Q=0" probes such as optical spectroscopy including Raman and infrared.

This project will exploit recent developments in neutron instrumentation at large scale facilities to investigate the low-energy lattice fluctuations in relaxor ferroelectrics and compare them with dielectric measurements performed at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. The project will also explore the possibility of using negative muons to determine chemical composition in ferroelectrics and also to distinguish different valency of single ions such as iron, cobalt, and manganese.

Initially, the project will involve the development of growth techniques of piezoelectric materials using the multizone furnace at the University of Edinburgh. In parallel, a new capacitance bridge setup will be tested on the current low-temperature equipment at the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions (CSEC) using an available Quantum Design PPMS. This will be validated by measurements performed at Glasgow and also on standard known materials.

The second part of the project will exploit new neutron spin echo spectrometers for the measurement of lattice fluctuations on the GHz frequency scale. These measurements will be compared and connected with measurements using current triple-axis spectrometers. These measurements will be done as a function of temperature and connected with capacitance measurements discussed above. Neutrons provide a direct momentum and energy resolved measure of the structural properties providing microscopic information that can be compared with lab based bulk probes.

In the measurement of both capacitance and neutron spectroscopy, the project will also investigate the possibility of performing these measurements under hydrostatic pressure. Current large facilities have large pressure cells that can be used at cryogenic temperatures and pressure scales of up to at least several kbar. Measurements under applied electric fields will also be investigated.

A final component of this project is the investigation of the use of negative muons for chemical composition determination. There is a current need to determine chemical composition in materials without destroying the material like is required for EXAFS or EDX. Negative muons may provide a spatially dependent probe that can be used to scan concentration. Initially, this part of the project will test standard materials with known valency. The second part of the project will then extend this to new relaxor materials. This work will be performed at the STFC-ISIS neutron and muon facility.


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Giles-Donovan N (2020) Imitation of spin density wave order in Cu 3 Nb 2 O 8 in Physical Review B

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/P510506/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2021
2387826 Studentship EP/P510506/1 16/09/2017 16/11/2021 Nathan Giles-Donovan