Dr Nitu Syed

Innovation:
Ultra-large piezoelectric film

Research Fellow, RMIT University; PhD (Electrical & Electronics), RMIT University

The material is created using low-temperature liquid metal-based synthesis.

Piezoelectric materials produce an electric current when they are placed under mechanical stress, and, accordingly, change their shape when a current is applied to them.

Gallium phosphate is an archetypal piezoelectric material, but it does not naturally crystallise in a stratified structure, which means that it cannot be exfoliated using conventional methods.

“Despite many unique properties, gallium phosphate has been essentially overlooked as a two-dimensional piezoelectric material,” says Dr Nitu Syed, a Research Fellow at RMIT University.

“Our transistors are the best alternative for harsh environments such as space circuitry.”

“Until now, no 2D piezoelectric material has been manufactured in very large sheets, making it impossible to integrate into silicon chips or use in large-scale surface manufacturing. We have developed a low-temperature liquid metal-based synthesis strategy to achieve this goal.”

Building upon work undertaken for her PhD, Syed devised a new way of synthesising atomically thin sheets of piezoelectric gallium phosphate.

Her fabrication process uses ultra-thin gallium phosphate fi lm and a low-temperature liquid metal printing technique.
“The elegance of our developed method for obtaining 2D gallium phosphate is that it doesn’t require expensive or specialised equipment,” she says.

“The 2D fi lm can be printed at low temperatures and in air.”

She adds that reducing the material’s thickness to just a few atoms substantially increases its piezoelectric qualities.

Her approach can be used to create monolayer and multilayer gallium phosphate with strong piezoelectric performance, providing new opportunities for piezosensors and energy harvesting.

The super thin piezoelectric material is compatible with existing electronic technologies and readily adoptable by industry.

Judges’ comments:

“This application deals with a technical development that has significant potential benefi t to industry. There is good evidence as to the technical challenge that has been overcome, and the applicant provides context that illustrates the novelty of the work. The technology presented here has significant potential impact.”

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