Ionix Advanced Technologies Awarded UK Government Funding to Develop the Next Generation of Lead-Free Piezoceramic Materials
Huddersfield, UK: Ionix Advanced Technologies has been awarded a UK government funded grant entitled “Next generation lead free sensors and actuators”. During the 18-month program, which commenced on 1st April 2023, Ionix will develop new lead-free piezoelectric materials part-funded by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) (project number 10048882), and private equity.
Piezoelectric materials are the heart of a wide range of applications, from medical ultrasound to parking sensors, alongside a wealth of industrial sensors. The market (valued at over $30 bn for sensors and actuators based on the piezoelectric effect) is served almost exclusively by lead zirconate titanate, abbreviated as PZT, which contains significant proportions of lead. Lead based electroceramics, including PZT, currently require exception from European RoHS legislation which is under regular review. If the exception were removed the impact would be significant worldwide for both manufacturers, and users of PZT.
Currently no lead-free materials exist which have the same performance (sensitivity/activity and temperature withstand, both operation and storage) and cost when compared to PZT. The vast majority of piezoelectric devices would not function with these inferior materials, thus many users of lead based piezoceramics are now seeking to run parallel lead-free programs, alongside their current devices to mitigate the risk of an imminent change in legislation, but are facing performance reductions or even complete product line failures due to a lack of suitable replacement piezos.
Technical Director and company founder, Dr Tim Comyn explains why Ionix was chosen to lead the project: “Ionix has over the past 10+ years developed a new family of low-lead piezoceramic materials, HPZ, for use in extreme environments and challenging applications. We have unique processing capabilities which are ideally suited for the next generation of new, ground breaking, materials and will apply this knowledge to the fabrication, manufacture and industrialisation of high performance lead-free piezoceramics.”
The company anticipates that this new material platform will have widescale adoption in a range of applications, including flow sensors, accelerometers and actuators. A range of different material families will be developed which span ambient temperature applications (-55 to +120°C operating temperature), to high temperature (<550°C), which align with Ionix’ current brand of extreme piezoelectric sensors and actuators.
Ionix will be working closely with key partners to tailor the performance of the lead-free materials to meet their specific application requirements. Early access to the final materials with the potential to input on their specification will be delivered through an end-user consortium which Ionix will be running alongside the project. More details of the consortium, including joining instructions, will be released in the coming weeks.
You can request more information from Ionix be emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +44 (0) 1484 505 859.
Ionix Advanced Technologies is the leading manufacturer of extreme environment and tailored piezoceramic materials, devices and solutions. Ionix HPZ™ levels up sensors and actuators to access new and challenging applications and markets.