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Investigation into the effects of modification of the passive phase for improved manufacture of 1-3 connectivity piezocomposite transducers

O'Leary, Richard L. and Hayward, Gordon (1999) Investigation into the effects of modification of the passive phase for improved manufacture of 1-3 connectivity piezocomposite transducers. IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, 46 (3). pp. 511-516. ISSN 0885-3010

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The 1-3 connectivity composite transducers comprise active piezoceramic pillars within a passive polymer matrix. The first stage in manufacturing the 1-3 material is to produce a bristle block (comprising a solid stock of active material with protruding pillars) by injection moulding or by dicing a piece of ceramic using precision sawing equipment. The bristle block is filled with a reactive polymer liquid that produces the passive polymer phase, and the filled block is machined to the desired dimensions. For optimum performance, the polymer phase should have complementary interaction with the ceramic phase as well as imparting dimensional stability. Epoxy-based polymers are the most usual passive materials because of their low viscosity in the uncured state and solvent resistance, coupled with their excellent adhesive, mechanical, and electrical properties. However, the curing of epoxy resins results in shrinkage of the polymer matrix and internal stress within the passive phase. This can lead to prestressing of the active ceramic material, distortion of pillars, reduction in the parallelism between the sides of pillars, acid, in certain circumstances, warpage of transducers. This is particularly evident when the solid stock in the bristle block is relatively thin. This paper reports the in situ modification of epoxy in the bristle block by UV-based low temperature polymerization of acrylate monomers within the epoxy matrix prior to polymerization of the epoxy resin. Internal stress measurements are presented to quantify the influence of this modification via a reduction of internal stress within the polymer matrix. Results from finite element analysis emphasise the conclusions of the experimental work, and examples of manufactured devices are presented. Composite transducer performance is assessed by laser measurement of surface displacement profiles, and a 50% improvement in surface displacement magnitude was observed for the modified devices.