Enhanced piezoelectricity and stretchability in energy harvesting devices fabricated from buckled PZT ribbons

Yi Qi, Jihoon Kim, Thanh D. Nguyen, Bozhena Lisko, Prashant K. Purohit, Michael C. McAlpine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

386 Scopus citations


The development of a method for integrating highly efficient energy conversion materials onto soft, biocompatible substrates could yield breakthroughs in implantable or wearable energy harvesting systems. Of particular interest are devices which can conform to irregular, curved surfaces, and operate in vital environments that may involve both flexing and stretching modes. Previous studies have shown significant advances in the integration of highly efficient piezoelectric nanocrystals on flexible and bendable substrates. Yet, such inorganic nanomaterials are mechanically incompatible with the extreme elasticity of elastomeric substrates. Here, we present a novel strategy for overcoming these limitations, by generating wavy piezoelectric ribbons on silicone rubber. Our results show that the amplitudes in the waves accommodate order-of-magnitude increases in maximum tensile strain without fracture. Further, local probing of the buckled ribbons reveals an enhancement in the piezoelectric effect of up to 70%, thus representing the highest reported piezoelectric response on a stretchable medium. These results allow for the integration of energy conversion devices which operate in stretching mode via reversible deformations in the wavy/buckled ribbons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1336
Number of pages6
JournalNano letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 9 2011


  • Hybrid nanomechanics
  • flexoelectric effect
  • piezoribbons
  • stretchable energy harvesting


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