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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C520025/1
Title: Novel fabrication Technologies for Functional Fibres and Composites
Principal Investigator: Button, Professor TW
Other Investigators:
Su, Professor B
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
National Physical Laboratory NPL University of Bath University of the West of Scotland
Department: IRC in Materials Processing
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 February 2005 Ends: 31 July 2006 Value (£): 100,849
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Processing Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Functional ceramic materials exhibit a wide range of effects that can be exploited individually in numerous engineering applications as sensors or actuators, or in combination to give an intelligent or smart response to received stimuli. The availability of the functional or active component in various shapes, sizes and physical forms (bulk, film or fibre) has a great impact on how the materials can de incorporated into devices and the realisation of efficient designs, and on the ultimate performance of the final device, and there has been particular interest in exploiting composite designs requiring functional fibres. By far the most work on functional fibres has been carried out on the development of piezoelectric fibres, predominately based on lead zironate titanate (PZT) compositions, for incorporation into active fibre composites (AFCs) which are of interest for a range of important applications including vibration and noise suppression, energy harvesting, high strain actuators, structural health monitoring and in improved sports equipment. The fibres can also be utilised in more conventional piezoelectric composites for application as ultrasonic transducers in non-destructive testing (NDT) and medical imaging. However, the performance of such devices is compromised by the quality and properties of fibres that are currently available. Recent work by the proposers has demonstrated that viscous plastic processing (VPP), utilising the extrusion of homogeneous and deagglomerated powder/binder/solvent pastes, offers the ability to produce fibres at a range of diameters for the manufacture of piezoelectric fibre for active fibre composites. Using characterisation techniques developed by our collaborators at the University of Bath and NPL, the fibre properties of PZT-5A fibres have been fully characterised, showing that the VPP fibres have superior functional, structural and morphological properties compared to any other commercially available fibres.We propose in this project to further develop innovative fabrication technologies for the manufacture of high performance functional ceramic fibres and novel flexible fibre composites with improved properties for smart structure applications. A key part of the research will be the development of a microwave sintering route enabling production of the continuous or semi-continuous lengths of fibre demanded by the applications, rather than the short fibre legths fabricated so far. In this Exploratory project work will focus on piezoelectric materials, although it is proposed that other materials will be investigated in the follow-on Flagship proposal if successful. Novel piezoelectric fibres with superior structures (textured with preferred orientation) and geometry (rectangular cross-section) will be investigated and characterised, based upon our successful demonstration of superior properties of PZT-5A PZT fibres. We also propose to investigate alternative fabrication techniques for flexible fibre composites. Fibres and fibre arrays will be supplied to collaborating organisations for integration into demonstrator AFC and ultrasonic 1-3 devices. If selected for a Flagship proposal, it is proposed to formally involve the other academic organisations and industries, and focus on the development of the application areas for these novel and important materials.
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Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk