The Effect Of Processing Conditions On The Morphology, Mechanical And Electrical Properties Of Batio3-Polymer Composites
Ferroelectric ceramic – polymer composites have a unique mix of electrical and mechanical properties. Piezoelectric and pyroelectric activity, a wide range of dielectric constants and high breakdown strength are combined with mechanical flexibility, formability and low acoustic impedance. Furthermore their properties may be tailored by the judicious choice of the polymeric matrix and ceramic filler, of their volume fraction, and of the type of connectivity, making these materials very attractive for applications as embedded capacitors, sensors and actuators. Composites with 0-3 connectivity, i.e. a continuous polymer matrix filled with a ceramic phase discontinuous in all directions, are particularly interesting because of their relative ease of fabrication and processing. The functionality of these composite materials is mostly due to the dielectric, ferroelectric and piezoelectric properties of the ceramic phase, which therefore often needs to constitute more than 50% in volume. On the other hand the possibility of integrating these composites as embedded devices in host structures, which are often polymer based, or using them as efficient actuators depends greatly on their thermomechanical properties. Most of the studies on ferroelectric ceramic-polymer composites, however, focus on their electrical properties, and relatively few systematic studies on their thermal and mechanical behaviour have been published so far. Furthermore the ceramic volume fractions considered are often much lower than those used in most applications [1, 2], studies of highly filled composites mainly being limited to lead-based ferroelectric materials . In the present study 0-3 BaTiO3 – polymer composites were prepared, containing up to 60% volume fraction of ceramic phase. BaTiO3 was chosen as the ceramic filler as it is a common piezoelectric material with high dielectric constant, having the additional benefit from an environmental point of view of being lead-free. For the matrix, a low viscosity epoxy resin and a polyvinylidene fluoride based polymer were chosen. The first is a thermoset resin commonly used for several applications, and the second is a thermoplastic semicrystalline polymer which displays piezoelectric activity. A common route for achieving very high loading of ceramic filler is the use of solvents to reduce the viscosity during processing. However, as the materials prepared via the solvent route were found to have poor mechanical properties, attributed to the presence of residual solvent, most of the effort focused on obtaining high ceramic volume fractions via a solvent free process. The thermomechanical, dielectric, ferroelectric and piezoelectric properties of the obtained composites were investigated, and discussed in the light of the properties of the basic components, the processing route and the resulting morphology. X-ray diffraction was carried out to determine the crystal structure of the BaTiO3 in the pure powder and in the composites, confirming that processing did not alter the crystallographic structure of the ceramic phase. Scanning electron microscope observation of fracture surfaces of the composites evidenced that a satisfactorily homogeneous dispersion of BaTiO3 in the matrix could be obtained, although aggregates with diameter of some micrometers and some porosity were detected. The thermal and mechanical behaviour of the composites was studied by differential scanning calorimetry and dynamic mechanical analysis. The glass transition temperature was found not to significantly depend on the amount of filler, while both the storage and loss moduli increased upon addition of BaTiO3. Furthermore, all the composites displayed a region of linear stress-strain behaviour smaller than the pure matrices. Finally, experimental results also evidenced the possibility to obtain low leakage current and high breakdown voltage.