Researchers from the College of Houston and King Abdullah College of Science and Know-how (KAUST) have developed piezoelectric sensors which may flex beneath strain and function in excessive environments — together with in temperatures related to volcanic eruptions.
The group, led by corresponding writer Jae-Hyun Ryou, affiliate professor of mechanical engineering, was searching for methods to construct sensors which might survive the place normal electronics would fail — high-pressure petrochemical pipelines from geothermal wells the place the temperature reaches over 1,100°F and mafic volcanic lava eruptions which get as scorching as 1,650°F. “Extremely delicate, dependable and sturdy sensors that may tolerate such excessive environments are mandatory for the effectivity, upkeep, and integrity of those functions,” Ryou explains.
Researchers, together with Nam-In Kim (left) and Jae-Hyun Ryou, have developed a strain sensor that works when others would liquefy. (📷: College of Houston)
The group’s work builds on earlier efforts to show single-crystal gallium nitride movies into piezoelectric strain sensors — the outcomes of which outperformed rival units however started to lose sensitivity when heated above 660°F. Deciding the design wanted a wider bandgap — the minimal vitality wanted to excite an electron and thus conduct electrical energy — the group switched to aluminum nitride movies as an alternative, and found a serious enchancment in most working temperature.
“Our plan is to make use of the sensor in a number of harsh eventualities,” Ryou says of the group’s real-world testing plans, following lab experiments which included working the sensor inside a high-temperature furnace. “For instance, in nuclear crops for neutron publicity and hydrogen storage to check beneath excessive strain. AlN sensors can function in neutron-exposed atmospheres and at very high-pressure ranges due to its secure materials properties.”
The sensor flexes beneath strain, utilizing piezoelectrics to report its findings in even excessive eventualities. (📷: Kim et al)
The researchers are additionally different makes use of for the sensor know-how, together with utilizing its flexibility in wearable well being monitoring programs and mushy robotics — however there is no phrase but on a timeline for commercialization. “It is onerous to place a selected date on when that could be,” says first writer Nam-In Kim, “however I believe it is our job as engineers to make it occur as quickly as potential.”
The group’s work has been revealed beneath closed-access phrases within the journal Superior Practical Supplies.