Printing technology to prepare high-performance lead-free flexible piezoelectric acoustic sensors

According to the World Health Organization, about 430 million people worldwide suffer hearing loss due to cochlear damage, and cochlear implants are the main ones that improve their hearing. However, traditional cochlear implants have low speech recognition capabilities, and mismatches between rigid electrodes and soft tissues can lead to problems such as nerve damage and tinnitus. With the development of the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, the research of flexible self-powered cochlear implants has attracted widespread attention.

With the strong support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Beijing Municipality, the research group of Song Yanlin, Key Laboratory of Green Printing Institute of the Institute of Chemistry, has recently made a series of progress in the synthesis of anisotropic materials and the preparation of patterned devices, such as the research of two-dimensional MXene and nanocrystalline composites (J. Mater. Chem. A, 2022, 10, 14674-14691; Nano Res. 2022, DOI:10.1007/s12274-022-4667-x), high-performance atomic-scale thick two-dimensional semiconductor films and devices (Adv. Mater. 2022, DOI:10.1002/adma.202207392), Fabrication of Humidity Sensing Supercapacitors Based on Alternately Stacked Microelectrodes (Energy Environ. Mater. 2022, DOI:10.1002/eem2.12546), etc.

Figure 1. Application diagram of microcone array flexible piezoelectric acoustic device

Figure 2. Water resistance for sound data acquisition, human-computer interaction applications and FPAS

Piezoelectric materials can be used as favorable candidates for future cochlear implants, however, mainstream lead-containing piezoelectric materials are biologically incompatible and environmentally unfriendly, and the electrical output power of other piezoelectric materials is insufficient to directly stimulate the auditory nerve due to their low acoustic-electrical conversion performance. Therefore, it is of great significance to manufacture high-performance lead-free flexible piezoelectric acoustic sensors. Recently, inspired by human cochlear external ear hair cells, they reported a straight-writing microcone array strategy for multi-component lead-free perovskite rods based on quasi-homotypic phase boundaries, which on the one hand uses orientation engineering and quasi-homogeneous phase boundaries formed between two different orthogonal phases (Amm2 and Pmmm) to significantly improve the influence of stress on the properties of piezoelectric materials and achieve piezoelectric response enhancement. On the other hand, microcone arrays are introduced on the surface of the piezoelectric film to increase the contact area with the sound wave and enhance the absorption of the sound wave, so as to prepare a high-performance flexible piezoelectric acoustic sensor (FPAS). The sensor shows the characteristics of high sensitivity, wide frequency response, covering commonly used speech frequencies, and has angle sensitivity, which can be used to record sound signals and realize speech recognition and human-computer interaction. FPAS is also waterproof and resistant to acids and alkalis, meeting the requirements of wearable acoustic sensors in the natural environment. The research results were recently published in the journal Matter, and the first author of the paper is master student Xiang Zhongyuan, and the corresponding authors are researcher Song Yanlin and associate researcher Lihong Li. (Source: Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

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