Organic piezoelectric materials: milestones and potential
Research on the piezoelectric response of biomolecules has intensified following demonstration of open circuit voltages of over 20 V in biopiezoelectric generators. Organic piezoelectric nanotubes, fibers, and micro-islands have been grown and studied; however, the lack of fundamental understanding of the piezoelectric effect in nature hinders the rational design of biomaterials to provide a tailor-made piezoelectric response. Advances in high performance computing have facilitated the use of quantum mechanical calculations to predict the full piezoelectric tensor of biomolecular crystals, including amino acids and small peptides. By identifying directions of high piezoelectric response, the simulations can guide experimental crystal growth, device fabrication and electrical testing, which have led to the demonstration of unprecedented piezoelectric responses in organic crystals on the order of 200 pC/N. These large responses arise from strong supramolecular dipoles, which can be tuned by molecular chemistry and packing, opening new opportunities for the realization of technologically useful piezoelectric devices from renewable materials. The amino acids predicted to exhibit the highest piezoelectric response, such as glycine, hydroxyproline and lysine, are anticipated to be used to engineer highly piezoelectric peptides in the future. With improved scaling of advanced computational methods, such as density functional perturbation theory, the research community can begin to efficiently screen peptide structures for enhanced electromechanical properties. This capability will accelerate the experimental development of devices and provide much-needed insight into the evolution of a hierarchical relation in biological materials starting from strongly piezoelectric building blocks.
PublicationNPG Asia Materials;11, 10
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