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Hierarchically structured ferroelectric energy harvesting materials

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Hamideh Khanbareh
    Prof Chris Bowen
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

High-strain environment of automotive tyres provide deformation energy that can be harvested using piezoelectric materials for powering electronics such as Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS). This would reduce the reliance of the wireless sensor network on batteries. The resulting elimination of battery replacement will simplify maintenance and provide a higher level of ease of use and safety.

None of the present piezo-ceramic devices can easily operate under high strain conditions present in a car tyre, often leading to complex and costly solutions. The polymer-based devices on the other hand fail to easily satisfy the operating thermal requirements for use in such an environment. However novel piezoelectric ceramic-polymer composite materials can be designed to fulfil the operating requirements by the right choice of the constituent phases as well as the microstructure. Furthermore, these materials are suitable for low-cost mass production and easy integration in the tyre itself.

This project aims to develop innovative composite materials to convert mechanical deformation into electrical energy via piezoelectric effect. The project will involve design of conformable composites with enhanced energy harvesting performance through a careful design of the microstructure, via including porosity as well as piezoelectric ceramic particle architectures. The choice of the constituent phases is another design parameter to be optimised in this project.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Bath is looking for a highly motivated candidate to:
• Design and fabricate composite piezoelectric materials
• Characterise electro-mechanical properties using dielectric spectroscopy, impedance spectroscopy as well as direct piezoelectric measurement of charge and voltage output. Thermo-mechanical properties will be tested using TGA, DSC, DMTA. Microstructure of the composites will be analysed using SEM.
• Map the effect of porosity, and develop a model to predict the effective electromechanical properties of composites
• Optimise the energy harvesting FOM based on properties of the constituent materials
• Characterize different electrode materials
• Mount the manufactured flexible piezo energy harvesters inside a car-tyre and evaluate the signal.
• Develop a self-powered system based on the existing TPMS devices


The project is funded by Silent Sensors Ltd, a unique Internet of Things company focused on tyre management.

Successful applicants will ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with a First class honours MSc degree (or overseas equivalent) in materials//chemical/mechanical/electrical engineering, physics or similar disciplines. Knowledge of MATLAB, LabVIEW and Signal Processing would be advantageous.

Applicants should send their CV in the first instance to [Email Address Removed] A full electronic application will be required to progress further.

Funding Notes

UK/EU awards cover tuition fees, a training support fee of £3,000/annum, and a standard tax-free maintenance payment of £14,777 (2018/9 rate) for a duration of 3.5 years. Overseas awards cover tuition fees, a training support fee of £3000/annum but no stipend.

How good is research at University of Bath in Aeronautical, Mechanical, Chemical and Manufacturing Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 61.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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