Giant piezoelectricity of Sm-doped Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-PbTiO3 single crystals

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Science  19 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6437, pp. 264-268
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw2781

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Samarium supersensors

Piezoelectric materials produce electric charge in response to changes in stress and are thus good sensor materials. One challenge has been growing single-crystal piezoelectrics with uniform properties. As of now, much of the crystal is discarded because of compositional variations. Li et al. synthesized single crystals of samarium-doped Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-PbTiO3 that have uniform and extremely high piezoelectric properties (see the Perspective by Hlinka). These crystals are ideal for a variety of sensing applications and could reduce cost by eliminating waste.

Science, this issue p. 264; see also p. 228


High-performance piezoelectrics benefit transducers and sensors in a variety of electromechanical applications. The materials with the highest piezoelectric charge coefficients (d33) are relaxor-PbTiO3 crystals, which were discovered two decades ago. We successfully grew Sm-doped Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-PbTiO3 (Sm-PMN-PT) single crystals with even higher d33 values ranging from 3400 to 4100 picocoulombs per newton, with variation below 20% over the as-grown crystal boule, exhibiting good property uniformity. We characterized the Sm-PMN-PT on the atomic scale with scanning transmission electron microscopy and made first-principles calculations to determine that the giant piezoelectric properties arise from the enhanced local structural heterogeneity introduced by Sm3+ dopants. Rare-earth doping is thus identified as a general strategy for introducing local structural heterogeneity in order to enhance the piezoelectricity of relaxor ferroelectric crystals.

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