Recent Advances in 1-3 Piezoelectric Polymer Composite Transducer Technology for AUV/UUV Acoustic Imaging Applications

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Over the past 5 years, the use of 1-3 piezoelectric polymer composite has been studied under various U.S. Navy-funded transducer research programs. As a transduction material, the 1-3 piezoelectric composite offers many advantages for autonomous undersea vehicles/unmanned undersea vehicle (AUV/UUV) imaging array construction. Broad bandwidth, high transmit/receive response, low cost of fabrication, mechanical ruggedness, and the ability to form conformal shapes make this material both a unique and intriguing medium for the sonar transducer designer. The 1-3 piezocomposite panels are comprised of several piezoceramic rods aligned vertically through the panel's thickness with each rod surrounded with a specific polymer epoxy. Volume fractions of ceramic to polymer can vary up to 50% with panel thickness ranging between fractions of a millimeter (2 to 4 MHz) to 25 millimeters (50 to 70 kHz). This article will elucidate the application of this unique material to a variety of practical transducer designs and describe some of the recent device demonstrations along with measured performance data.

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