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J Appl Phys. 2013 May 14;113(18):187205. Epub 2013 May 8.

Enhanced piezoelectric performance of composite sol-gel thick films evaluated using piezoresponse force microscopy.

Abstract

Conventional composite sol-gel method has been modified to enhance the piezoelectric performance of ceramic thick films. Lead zirconate titanate (PZT) and lead magnesium niobate-lead titanate (PMN-PT) thick films were fabricated using the modified sol-gel method for ultrasonic transducer applications. In this work, piezoresponse force microscopy was employed to evaluate the piezoelectric characteristics of PZT and PMN-PT composite sol-gel thick films. The images of the piezoelectric response and the strain-electric field hysteresis loop behavior were measured. The effective piezoelectric coefficient (d33,eff) of the films was determined from the measured loop data. It was found that the effective local piezoelectric coefficient of both PZT and PMN-PT composite films is comparable to that of their bulk ceramics. The promising results suggest that the modified composite sol-gel method is a promising way to prepare the high-quality, crack-free ceramic thick films.

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