Piezoelectric materials are at the heart of a £20bn p.a. industry in sensors and actuators, providing the functional heart of devices such as ultrasound medical imaging transducers, naval sonar and automotive fuel injection systems. This 4 year PhD project, funded by EPSRC with additional support from industrial collaborator Thales UK Ltd, is aimed at defining new methods for growing the highest performance piezoelectric materials in the form of large single crystals.
Conventional crystal growth techniques rely on solidification from the melt or from liquid fluxes, however these methods have both technical shortcomings and are high cost. Hence this project is aimed at growing crystals from polycrystalline precursors, using seed crystals to determine the direction of the growth. It is primarily an experimental project, based around materials processing, employing optical and electron microscopy to determine material microstructures and electrical measurements to define the piezoelectric characteristics.
The successful candidate will enjoy the advantages of working in a large collaborative group with an international reputation for research on piezoelectric materials. As an iCASE student you will spend approximately 3 months working with the partners, Thales Ltd, to help transfer the findings of your project into an industrial context.