Polymer Exhibits Enhanced Piezoelectric Properties

Doping in sports — if it’s discovered — doesn’t end well for the athletes. But for researchers at Penn State, meticulous doping of a polymer had a welcome outcome in terms of piezoelectric effectiveness. Professor of electrical engineering Qiming Zhang and his team introduced chemical impurities into a polymer, a process known as doping in the materials science world. This allowed them to tune the material’s properties. The challenge is getting the percentage just right: Adding too little dopant would not produce the desired effect, while adding too much could hamper the material’s function. The researchers nailed it, however, creating a polymer that efficiently generated 60% more electricity than previous iterations. The research was published today in Science.

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