The new material is expected to enable higher speeds in operation changes (switching).
Piezoelectric thin films utilize the property of structural change in response to electrical signals, and are used as a power source for micro devices (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems, MEMS) in ink jet printers. However, switching time cannot be adequately controlled with the current generation of piezoelectric thin films. If it is possible to realize high speed switching, expansion to industrial applications and development of higher performance products can be expected.
Therefore, using the high brightness synchrotron radiation of Japan’s large-scale synchrotron radiation facility SPring-8, this research group investigated the nanodomain structural changes that occur when an electrical field is applied at high speed to a ferroelectric thin film, which is one type of piezoelectric. As a result, the group succeeded in confirming for the first time in the world that the nanodomain crystal orientation of this thin film changes in a time of 2/10 millionths of a second, or 200 nanoseconds (200 ns).
This result, which showed the possibility of controlling piezoelectric thin films at the nanosecond order of 200ns, will make a major contribution to the development of high performance products by realizing higher speeds in MEMS using piezoelectric thin films. As examples, in ink jet printers, achievement of higher treatment speeds in MEMS, which control ink coating, will enable fine printing with a smaller quantity of ink than the conventional technology, and in automotive engines, higher MEMS speeds can be expected to contribute to improved fuel economy and reduced exhaust gas by application of nanodomain structures to ceramic parts which control fuel use efficiency.
This result was achieved by a research group made up of Dr. Osami Sakata, who is a Visiting Researcher at JASRI (concurrently Station Director of the Synchrotron X-ray Station at SPring-8 of the NIMS Hub Functions and Facility Services Division), Associate Professor Hiroshi Funakubo and Assistant Professor Tomoaki Yamada (now Associate Professor, Nagoya University Graduate School of Engineering and PRESTO Research Fellow of the Japan Science and Technology Agency), both of the Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Assistant Professor Daisuke Kan of the Kyoto University Institute for Chemical Research, and others. This work was announced dated November 4 in the influential scientific journal in the field of applied physics, Applied Physics Letters and has also been newly selected as a noteworthy paper in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science and Technology.