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Miniaturised Ultrasonic, Engineered-Structure and LTCC-Based Devices for Acoustics, Fluidies, Optics and Robotics

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Novel miniaturised electroceramic devices

Electroceramic materials have found wide application in fields as diverse as medical diagnostics and printing. An EU-funded initiative resulted in new materials, processes and devices with the potential to boost the European electronics industry while protecting the environment.

Industrial Technologies

Electroceramic materials are ceramics that respond to electric fields in a variety of ways that make them quite important in electromechanical, electrochemical, electromagnetic and electro-optical devices. The electronics industry seeks to develop ever smaller components with greater flexibility and performance and minimal negative environmental impact. A European consortium with diverse and advanced knowledge and experience in the field of electroceramics developed the Minuet project to advance the state of electroceramics, in particular with respect to miniaturised environmentally friendly materials and components. In particular, researchers focused on piezoelectric single crystal materials and development of novel piezoelectric ceramics and piezoelectric thick films. Piezoelectric devices sense a change in pressure or force and convert this to an electrical signal and conversely change size in response to electric current. They are important for sensing, monitoring and controlling fluid flows where changes in viscosity and other parameters result in changes in fluid pressures. Investigators applied advanced modelling techniques for strain measurements in bulk ceramics and single crystals, developing new lead-based compositions with enhanced permittivity (basically lower resistance) as well as new lead-free piezoceramics based on the potassium sodium niobate (KNN) family. These materials enabled development of a number of devices including a micro-dosing head for inkjet printing, an oil condition sensor, a single-use blood flow transducer for intraoperative use and a transducer for detection of venous air embolism (VAE), two transducers for ultrasonic imaging, and a novel ultrasonic non-destructive testing (NDT) transducer based on piezoelectric thick films. Overall, the highly productive Minuet project delivered new electroceramic materials and process technology resulting in production of numerous electroceramic advices based on more environmentally friendly materials. Commercialisation of results should have important impact on the European electronics industry, medical care and the environment, to name but a few areas.

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