Piezoelectric Nanocomposites

Zinc Oxide Nanoparticle-based Piezoelectric Nanocomposites for Active Sensing

  • Funding agency: UC MEXUS-CONACYT
  • Grant number: CN-11-510
  • Grant title: Buried Pipeline Active Sensing and Damage Detection using Piezoelectric Nanocomposites
  • Collaborators: Arturo Baltazar
  • Graduate students: John Dodds; Frederick Meyers


The overarching goal is to develop, characterize, and validate a robust pipeline damage sensing and detection system based on state-of-the-art piezoelectric nanocomposites. Lifeline networks (e.g., water, electricity, gas, and telecommunications) are critical structures transported over long distances via buried pipelines but can also be damaged and catastrophically fail during operations. While ultrasonic techniques based on piezoelectric actuators/sensors have been promising for damage detection, these transducers possess an inherent tradeoff between sensitivity and mechanical properties that make them difficult for use with pipes. Thus, this research addresses a critical international need for monitoring pipeline networks using a state-of-the-art nanocomposite-based sensor/actuator while revolutionizing current techniques in pipeline damage assessment. First, a zinc oxide-based nanocomposite system possessing high flexibility and piezoelectricity will be designed and fabricated. Second, its actuation/sensing performance will be evaluated, characterized and optimized via iterations of experimental testing and wave propagation numerical simulations. Finally, the active damage detection system will be validated and compared against traditional techniques on a pipeline test bed.

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