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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M002462/1
Title: Engineering Fellowships for Growth: Polar Materials for Additive Manufacturing
Principal Investigator: Bell, Professor AJ
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemical and Process Engineering
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 23 August 2014 Ends: 22 August 2019 Value (£): 1,030,863
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation Materials Processing
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Mar 2014 Engineering Fellowships for Growth - Advanced Materials Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The concept of Additive Manufacturing (AM) is seen as an important contributor to the re-balancing of UK manufacturing industry. AM enables the manufacture of complex structures with novel combinations of materials, to create innovative products for both the consumer and industrial markets. It can be applied equally to mass-production or bespoke products. The intrinsic economy of raw material usage keeps costs low and the rapid turn-round of design iterations minimizes the time to market for new products. Due to progress in organic conductors and semiconductors, the concept of plastic electronics is a major contributor to multifunctional products using AM. These advances are evident in many consumer products including smartphones and tablet PCs. The proposed Fellowship is intended to address a capability gap in AM and flexible electronics.

The missing capability is in the AM-compatible integration of highly polar solids, as used in capacitors, piezoelectric devices and infra-red sensors. These functions are normally satisfied by ferroelectric oxides (e.g. barium titanate and PZT) in the form of ceramics which are sintered at high temperature, and can currently only be deployed in the form of discrete components. This limits both the flexibility and potential cost-savings offered by AM. Printable organic materials, as used in photonic functions, do not provide an acceptable solution to the demand for such highly polar dielectrics as the relevant figures of merit are one or two orders of magnitude lower than oxides. Capacitors and piezo-transducers are ubiquitous in conventional electronics and the ability to design them into printable products is a "must have" for future AM systems, allowing full integration of pressure sensors, energy harvesting and energy storage capacitors, for example.

The project will employ a bottom-up, holistic approach with three innovations: (i) the preparation of highly crystalline, monodisperse, ferroelectric nanocrystals, (ii) the implementation of multi-scale modelling for the optimal design of printable, high-polarisability devices and (iii) utilization of ferroelectric polarization to promote self-assembly of nanocrystals into functionally beneficial crystallographic orientations during printing operations. These innovations will be employed to design new printable functional components that can be integrated into electromechanical products produced by AM techniques. A successful outcome will result in reduced costs and lead times for integrating new functional materials into AM products. The Fellowship will also be used as a platform to (i) initiate programmes on new applications of ferroelectric nanocrystals and (ii) facilitate the re-focusing of functional oxide research on goals coherent with medium to long-term UK industry needs.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk