Investigations into the Synthesis, Structural and Multifunctional Aspects of Ba0.85Ca0.15Zr0.1Ti0.9O3 and K0.5Na0.5NbO3 Ceramics
Non-centrosymmetric materials that can be polarized under applied mechanical stress or electric field are piezoelectric in nature and the phenomenon is called piezoelectric effect. They are broadly classified as direct and converse piezoelectric effects. Piezo-ceramics have a wide range of applications such as piezoelectric actuators, sensors, and transducers. Among piezoceramics, ferroelectric based materials are imperative owing to the existence of spontaneous polarization in these systems. Several materials are investigated starting from naturally occurring crystals to synthetic ceramics but are limited in their application range. The piezoelectric and ferroelectrics properties of the solid-solutions based on lead zirconate and lead titanate called lead zirconate titanate (PZT), lead magnesium niobate-lead titanate (PMN-PT), lead zinc niobate-lead titanate (PZN-PT) (near morphotrophic phase boundary (MPB)) demonstrate their potential for myriad device applications besides inciting a great deal of academic interest. They have been widely used for commercial applications such as ultra sound transducers, ultrasonic motors, fuel injector actuators, nano positioners in scanning electron microscope etc. However, these materials contain more than 60% lead by weight and volatization of Pb at higher temperature, and disposal of lead results in environmental pollution and are fatal to human health. This gave an insight to search for lead-free solid solutions covering a wide spectrum of applications akin to that of PZT. The search for alternatives to lead based piezoelectric materials is now being focused on modified barium titanates and alkali niobates in which the incidence of MPB was reported similar to that of PZT. In this thesis the results pertaining to the various investigations carried out on modified barium titanates, Ba(Zr0.2Ti0.8)O3- x(Ba0.7Ca0.3)TiO3(BCZT), and alkali niobates, potassium sodium niobate (KNN), are presented. Especially, lead-free piezoelectric material Ba(Zr0.2Ti0.8)O3-x(Ba0.7Ca0.3)TiO3(BCZT) with x= 0.5 has attracted great attention due to its excellent piezoelectric properties. Contrary to the other Pb-free systems, the BZT–BCT phase diagram shows a Morphotropic Phase Boundary (MPB) characterized by the existence of a tri-critical point (TCP), which is also the case for PZT and PMN–PT. One drawback of the BZT–xBCT (x=0.5) is its high sintering temperature (where it exhibits the largest d33 of 550 – 620pC/N). Several methods have been adopted and various additives are being added to bring down the sintering temperature, since high d33 requires an optimized sintering temperature of around 1540oC which also shows excellent ferroelectric properties. However, the methods that were reported in the literature to synthesize the above materials do not guarantee compositional homogeneity and also there is a limitation in obtaining ceramics of enhanced grain size as the ceramics comprising larger grains are demonstrated to exhibit high piezoelectric coefficients. Therefore to address these issues, the simple soft chemical route was adopted to synthesize chemically homogenous powder and the influence of microstructure (grain size) and ferroelectric domains on piezoelectric properties of the BCZT at nano and micron sized crystallites was studied. The results obtained are classified into chapter 3 and chapter 4 accordingly apart from introduction, materials, and methods. Another challenging area of research in lead free piezoceramics for nanoscale device application is to synthesize materials and to visualize the piezoelectric properties at nanoscale with controlled shapes and sizes. For that, Mg2+ ion was chosen as the dopant especially on Ba2+ sites to synthesize Ba0.95Mg0.05Zr0.1Ti0.9O3 (BMZT) nanocrystals, as MgO is known to be an effective grain growth inhibitor in many functional and structural ceramics. Therefore in the present thesis Mg2+ ion was chosen to exercise a strict control over the grain size. The results obtained from this title compound are discussed in chapter 5. Another class of material is K0.5Na0.5NbO3 (KNN), which has been considered a good candidate for lead-free piezoelectric materials. KNN exhibits an MPB around 50% K and 50% Na separating two orthorhombic phases from the complete solid solution of NaNbO3 (Anti-ferroelectric) and KNbO3 (ferroelectric). The major problem associated with KNN ceramic is its complex densification process; difficulty in processing and volatilization of sodium at higher sintering temperature leading to stoichiometric discrepancy. To overcome these difficulties, in the present investigations, an attempt has been made to fabricate KNN ceramics by employing the liquid phase sintering method. In this chapter, B2O3 and borate based glass (0.5 Li2O - 0.5K2O- 2B2O3) were chosen to improve the densification, grain size and their effects on the physical properties of the KNN ceramics are discussed in chapter 6. In chapter 7, KNN crystallites (with size varying from nano to micrometers) were dispersed in the Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) matrix to obtain a polymer/nano or micro crystal composites and the effect of nano and micron sized KNN fillers on the structural, dielectric and piezoelectric properties were investigated. The results obtained pertaining to these aforementioned investigations are organized as follows. In Chapter 1, a brief introduction to the field of ferroelectricity, piezoelectricity, and piezoelectric materials. The emphasis has been on the ferroelectric based piezoelectric materials belonging to the perovskite family of oxides. A brief exposure to the conventional lead based piezoceramics, lead zirconate titanate (PZT) is discussed. Furthermore, drawbacks associated with lead based ceramics are highlighted and alternatives to PZT based ceramics such as modified barium titanate and alkali niobate solid solutions are focused, leading to the motivation and objectives of our work. Chapter 2 describes the various experimental techniques that are employed to synthesize and characterize the materials under investigation. Chapter 3 deals with details concerning the characterization of Ba0.85Ca0.15Zr0.1Ti0.9O3 (BCZT) nanocrystals prepared via complex oxalate precursor route at a relatively low temperature (800°C/5h). The phase formation temperature of BCZT at nanoscale was confirmed by thermogravimetric (TG), differential thermal analysis (DTA) followed by X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) studies. Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was carried out to confirm the complete decomposition of oxalate precursor into BCZT phase. The XRD and profile fitting revealed the coexistence of cubic and tetragonal phases and was also corroborated by Raman study. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies carried out at 800°C and 1000°C/5h heat treated BCZT powder revealed the crystallite size to be in the range of 20 – 50 nm and 40 – 200 nm respectively. The optical band gap for BCZT nanocrystalline powder was obtained using Kubelka Munk function and was found to be around 3.12 ± 0.02 eV and 3.03± 0.02 eV respectively for 800°C (20 – 50 nm) and 1000°C/5h (40 – 200 nm) heat treated samples. The piezoelectric properties were studied for two different crystallite sizes (30 and 70 nm) using piezoresponse force microscope (PFM). The d33 coefficients obtained for 30 nm and 70 nm sized crystallites were 4 pm/V and 47 pm/V respectively. These were superior to those of BaTiO3 nanocrystal (≈ 50 nm) and promising from the technological/industrial applications perspective. Chapter 4 deals with the studies concerning the effect of microstructure (Grain size) and ferroelectric domains on physical properties of Ba0.85Ca0.15Zr0.1Ti0.9O3 ceramics. Fine powders comprising nanocrystallites of Ba0.85Ca0.15Zr0.1Ti0.9O3 (BCZT) were synthesized via oxalate precursor method which facilitated to obtain homogenous and large grain sized ceramics at a lower sintering temperature. The compacted powders were sintered at various temperatures in the range of 1200°C - 1500°C for an optimized duration of 10h. Interestingly the one that was sintered at 1450°C/10h exhibited well resolved Morphotrophic Phase Boundary (MPB). The average grain size associated with this sample was 30 µm accompanied by higher domain density mostly with 90° twinning. These were believed to make a significant contribution towards obtaining large strain of about 0.2 % and piezoelectric coefficient as high as 563 pC/N. The maximum force that was generated by BCZT ceramic (having 30 µm grain size) was found to be 161 MPa which is much higher than that of known actuator materials such as PZT (40 MPa) and NKN-5-LT (7 MPa). Chapter 5 reports the details involving the synthesis, structural, optical, and piezoelectric response of lead free Ba0.95Mg0.05Zr0.1Ti0.9O3 nanocrystalline powder. Nanocrystalline powders of Ba1-xMgxZr0.1Ti0.9O3 (x=0.025 - 0.1) were synthesized via citrate assisted sol-gel method. Interestingly, the one with x=0.05 in the system Ba1-xMgxZr0.1Ti0.9O3 exhibited fairly good piezoelectric response apart from the other physical properties. The phase and structural confirmation of synthesized powder was established by X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) and Raman Spectroscopic techniques. Two distinct Raman bands i.e., 303 cm-1 and 723 cm-1 characteristic of the tetragonal phase were observed. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) was performed to evaluate the phase decomposition of the as-synthesized Ba0.95Mg0.05Zr0.1Ti0.9O3 sample as a function of temperature. The average crystallite size associated with Ba0.95Mg0.05Zr0.1Ti0.9O3 was calculated using Scherrer formula based on the XRD data and was found to be 25 nm. However, Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy studies revealed the average crystallite size to be in the range of 30-40 nm. Kubelka-Munk function was employed to determine the optical band gap of these nanocrystallites. The piezoelectric response of 26 pm/V was observed for Ba0.95Mg0.05Zr0.1Ti0.9O3 nanocrystal by Piezoresponse Force Microscopy (PFM) technique. Photoluminescence (PL) study carried out on these nanocrystals exhibited a blue emission (470 nm) at room temperature. Chapter 6 describes the effect of the addition of B2O3 on the density, microstructure, dielectric, piezoelectric and ferroelectric properties of K0.5Na0.5NbO3 ceramics. Boron oxide (B2O3) addition to pre-reacted K0.5Na0.5NbO3 (KNN) powders facilitated swift densification at relatively low sintering temperatures which was believed to be a key to minimize potassium and sodium loss. The base KNN powder was synthesized via solid-state reaction route. The different amounts (0.1 to 1 wt %) of B2O3 were added, and ceramics were sintered at different temperatures and durations to optimize the amount of B2O3 needed to obtain KNN pellets with the highest possible density and grain size. The 0.1 wt% B2O3 added KNN ceramics sintered at 1100°C for 7h exhibited higher density (98%) with grain size of ~5 µm. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies confirmed an increase in average grain size with increasing B2O3 content at the appropriate temperature of sintering and duration. The B2O3 added KNN ceramics exhibited improved dielectric and piezoelectric properties at room temperature. For instance, 0.1 wt% B2O3 added KNN ceramic exhibited d33 value of 116 pC/N which is much higher than that of pure KNN ceramics. Interestingly, all the B2O3 added (0.1 to 1wt %) KNN ceramics exhibited polarization – electric field (P vs E) hysteresis loops at room temperature. The remnant polarization (Pr) and coercive field (Ec) values are dependent on the B2O3 content and crystallite size. The details pertaining to the effect of the addition of borate based glass (0.5 Li2O - 0.5K2O- 2B2O3) on the physical properties of K0.5Na0.5NbO3 ceramics are also reported in this chapter. The addition of powdered 0.5 Li2O - 0.5K2O- 2B2O3 (LKBO) glass (0.5 to 2 wt%) to potassium sodium niobate, K0.5Na0.5NbO3 (KNN) powder facilitated higher densification which resulted in improved physical properties that include dielectric, piezoelectric and ferroelectric. The required polycrystalline powders of KNN were synthesized through solid-state reaction route, while LKBO glass was obtained via the conventional melt-quenching technique. Pulverized glass was added to KNN powders in different wt% and compacted at room temperature and these were sintered around 1100°C. Indeed the addition of optimum amount (1 wt %) of LKBO glass to KNN ceramics facilitated lowering of sintering temperature accompanied by larger grains (8 µm) with improved density. The dielectric constant (εr) measured at room temperature was 475 (at 10 kHz), whereas it was only 199 for the LKBO glass free KNN. The piezoelectric coefficient (d33) was found to be 130 pC/N for 1wt% LKBO added glass, which was much higher than that of pure KNN ceramics (85 pC/N). Indeed, the LKBO glass added samples did exhibit well saturated P versus E hysteresis loops at room temperature. Though there was no particular trend observed in the variation of Pr with the increase in glass content, the Pr values were higher than those obtained for KNN ceramics. The improved physical properties of KNN ceramics encountered in these studies were primarily attributed to enhancement in density and grain size. Chapter 7 presents a comparative study on the structural, dielectric and piezoelectric properties of nano and micron sized K0.5Na0.5NbO3 fillers in PVDF composites. Polymer nanocrystal composites were fabricated by embedding polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) with different vol% of K0.5Na0.5NbO3 (KNN) nanocrystallites using hot-pressing technique. For comparison, PVDF-KNN microcrystal composites of the same compositions were also fabricated which facilitated the crystallite size (wide range) effect studies on the dielectric and piezoelectric properties. The structural, morphological, dielectric, and piezoelectric properties of these nano and micro crystal composites were investigated. The incorporation of KNN fillers in PVDF at both nano and micrometer scale above 10vol% resulted in the formation of polar β-form of PVDF. The room temperature dielectric constant as high as 3273 at 100Hz was obtained for PVDF comprising 40 vol% KNN nanocrystallites due to dipole –dipole interactions (as the presence of β-PVDF is prominent), whereas it was only 236 for PVDF containing the same amount (40 vol%) of micron sized crystallites of KNN at the same frequency. Various theoretical models were employed to predict the dielectric constants of the PVDF-KNN nano and microcrystal composites. PVDF comprising 70 vol% micronmeter sized crystallites of KNN exhibited d33 value of 35pC/N, while the nanocrystal composites of PVDF-KNN did not exhibit any piezoelectric response perhaps due to unrelieved internal stress within each grain besides having less number of domain walls. The Thesis ends with summary and conclusions, though each chapter is provided with conclusions and a complete list of references.
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