2024 Investiture Information

All Thayer Events

PhD Thesis Proposal: Huan Zhao



2:00pm - 3:30pm ET

Jackson Conf Rm, Cummings Hall

"Design and manufacturing of multifunctional piezoelectric composites"


Traditional engineering design often follows the concept of one component structure for one function. Multifunctional piezoelectric materials which seamlessly serve multiple purposes, such as sensing, energy harvesting and energy storage, can open new avenues for transformative advancements in engineering applications.

In this thesis proposal, I will present a novel piezoelectric ceramic-polymer composites which is fabricated following the polymer-derived ceramics (PDC) route. This composite material is consisted of barium titanite (BTO) as the piezoelectric ceramics, and a preceramic polymer as the polymer matrix. The unique polymer-to-ceramic phase transition enables fabrication of piezoelectric composites that are otherwise impossible to make through traditional processing techniques. Compared to existing piezoelectric polymers which experience significantly degradation above 200˚C, the piezoelectric composites I developed can maintain great thermal stability up to 500˚C. Besides, these composites exhibit better ductility and fracture toughness compared to conventional piezoelectric ceramics. Their increased deformability leads to enhanced piezoelectric response. The PDC route also provide great flexibility in material structure architecture design. I will discuss the design principles to enhance functionalities such as sensing, energy harvesting, and energy storage. I will also address the challenges encountered and propose solutions for the 3D printing and poling processes involved in fabricating high-performance piezoelectric composites.

Thesis Committee

  • Yan Li
  • William Scheideler
  • Jifeng Liu
  • Stewart Sherrit (NASA JPL)


For more information, contact Thayer Registrar at thayer.registrar@dartmouth.edu.