Investigation of a novel polymer foam material for air coupled ultrasonic transducer applications
This experimental study aims at investigating the use of porous polymer foam piezoelectrets as a potential transducer material for air coupled ultrasonic applications. When a voltage is applied, these materials exhibit a phenomenon similar to the inverse piezoelectric effect. The defining features of the piezo-like polymer foam are small, elliptically shaped and electrically polarized voids located inside the polymers. The sensitivity is related to the effective piezoelectric coupling coefficient d33 which is much higher than in traditional piezoelectric materials. The d33 values of the cellular polypropylene foams were estimated using a laser vibrometer at different input voltages for a continuous wave excitation. It was observed that the effective d33 coefficient strongly depends on the volume fraction of electrically charged voids in the material as the material compliance decreases with increased material voids. The change in acoustic impedance across the surface of the sample was measured with a high-resolution ultrasonic scanning system. Finally, these foams were used as prototype transducers for the transmit-receive mode in air; practical limitations imposed by acoustic attenuation in air were assessed.
KeywordsAcoustic Impedance Polymer Foam Impedance Mismatch Laser Vibrometer Transducer Material
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