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  1. Lead zirconate titanate (PZT) thin films offer advantages in microelectromechanical systems (MEMSs) including large motion, lower drive voltage, and high energy densities. Depending on the application, different substrates are sometimes required. Self-heating occurs in the PZT MEMS due to the energy loss from domain wall motion, which can degrade the device performance and reliability. In this work, the self-heating of PZT thin films on Si and glass and a film released from a substrate were investigated to understand the effect of substrates on the device temperature rise. Nano-particle assisted Raman thermometry was employed to quantify the operational temperature rise of these PZT actuators. The results were validated using a finite element thermal model, where the volumetric heat generation was experimentally determined from the hysteresis loss. While the volumetric heat generation of the PZT films on different substrates was similar, the PZT films on the Si substrate showed a minimal temperature rise due to the effective heat dissipation through the high thermal conductivity substrate. The temperature rise on the released structure is 6.8× higher than that on the glass substrates due to the absence of vertical heat dissipation. The experimental and modeling results show that the thin layer of residual Si remaining after etching plays a crucial role in mitigating the effect of device self-heating. The outcomes of this study suggest that high thermal conductivity passive elastic layers can be used as an effective thermal management solution for PZT-based MEMS actuators.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 28, 2025
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 20, 2025
  3. In many commercially utilized ferroelectric materials, the motion of domain walls is an important contributor to the functional dielectric and piezoelectric responses. This paper compares the temperature dependence of domain wall motion for BaTiO3 ceramics with different grain sizes, point defect concentrations, and formulations. The grain boundaries act as significant pinning points for domain wall motion such that fine-grained materials show smaller extrinsic contributions to the properties below the Curie temperature and lower residual ferroelectric contributions immediately above the Curie temperature. Oxygen vacancy point defects make a modest change in the extrinsic contributions of undoped BaTiO3 ceramics. In formulated BaTiO3, extrinsic contributions to the dielectric response were suppressed over a wide temperature range. It is believed this is due to a combination of reduced grain size, the existence of a core-shell microstructure, and a reduction in domain wall continuity over the grain boundaries.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 15, 2024
  4. Flexoelectricity offers an energy harvesting alternative to piezoelectric materials. Although flexoelectricity is generally weak in most materials, recent findings show that bending a semiconductor with insulating barrier layers could induce a significantly enhanced flexoelectric response. We call this effect the Space Charge Induced Flexoelectric (SCIF) effect. This study explores the induced polarization resulting from free charge redistribution in a doped silicon beam. To understand the underlying physics, a 3D numerical model combining flexoelectric principles and the drift-diffusion theory of semiconduction was developed. The effective flexoelectric coefficient was computed by comparing the differential charge accumulation at the top and bottom of the beam and compared that with the experimental observations. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 11, 2024
  5. Abstract

    Thin films based on PbZr1−xTixO3and K1−xNaxNbO3are increasingly being commercialized in piezoelectric MEMS due to the comparatively low drive voltages required relative to bulk actuators, as well as the facile approach to making sensor or actuator arrays. As these materials are incorporated into devices, it is critically important that they operate reliably over the lifetime of the system. This paper discusses some of the factors controlling the electrical and electromechanical reliability of lead zirconate titanate (PZT)-based piezoMEMS films. In particular, it will be shown the gradients in the Zr/Ti ratio through the depth of the films are useful in increasing the lifetime of the films under DC electrical stresses.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 21, 2024
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  7. Lead zirconate titanate (PZT) films with high Nb concentrations (6–13 mol%) were grown by chemical solution deposition. In concentrations up to 8 mol% Nb, the films self-compensate the stoichiometry; single phase films were grown from precursor solutions with 10 mol% PbO excess. Higher Nb concentrations induced multi-phase films unless the amount of excess PbO in the precursor solution was reduced. Phase pure perovskite films were grown with 13 mol% excess Nb with the addition of 6 mol% PbO. Charge compensation was achieved by creating lead vacancies when decreasing excess PbO level; using Kroger-Vink notation, NbTi• are ionically compensated by VPb″ to maintain charge neutrality in heavily Nb-doped PZT films. With Nb doping, films showed suppressed {100} orientation, the Curie temperature decreased, and the maximum in the relative permittivity at the phase transition broadened. The dielectric and piezoelectric properties were dramatically degraded due to increased quantity of the non-polar pyrochlore phase in multi-phase films; εr reduced from 1360 ± 8 to 940 ± 6, and the remanent d33,f value decreased from 112 to 42 pm/V when increasing the Nb concentration from 6 to 13 mol%. Property deterioration was corrected by decreasing the PbO level to 6 mol%; phase pure perovskite films were attained. εr and the remanent d33,f increased to 1330 ± 9 and 106 ± 4 pm/V, respectively. There was no discernable difference in the level of self-imprint in phase pure PZT films with Nb doping. However, the magnitude of the internal field after thermal poling at 150 °C increased significantly; the level of imprint was 30 kV/cm and 11.5 kV/cm in phase pure 6 mol% and 13 mol% Nb-doped films, respectively. The absence of mobile VO••, coupled with the immobile VPb″ in 13 mol% Nb-doped PZT films, leads to lower internal field formation upon thermal poling. For 6 mol% Nb-doped PZT films, the internal field formation was primarily governed by (1) the alignment of (VPb″−VO•• )x and (2) the injection and subsequent electron trapping by Ti4+. For 13 mol% Nb-doped PZT films, hole migration between VPb″ controlled internal field formation upon thermal poling. 
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  8. Anomalously abrupt nucleation and growth kinetics in polarization switching of wurtzite ferroelectrics are demonstrated. The anomaly inspires an extension of the traditional model to a regime that simultaneous non-linear nucleation and growth occur.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 31, 2024
  9. In undoped lead zirconate titanate films of 1–2  μm thick, domain walls move in clusters with a correlation length of approximately 0.5–2  μm. Band excitation piezoresponse force microscopy mapping of the piezoelectric nonlinearity revealed that niobium (Nb) doping increases the average concentration or mobility of domain walls without changing the cluster area of correlated domain wall motion. In contrast, manganese (Mn) doping reduces the contribution of mobile domain walls to the dielectric and piezoelectric responses without changing the cluster area for correlated motion. In both Nb and Mn doped films, the cluster area increases and the cluster density drops as the film thickness increases from 250 to 1250 nm. This is evident in spatial maps generated from the analysis of irreversible to reversible ratios of the Rayleigh coefficients. 
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