Ferroelectrets are thin films of polymer foams, exhibiting piezoelectric properties after electrical charging. Ferroelectret foams usually consist of a cellular polymer structure filled with air. Polymer-air composites are elastically soft due to their high air content as well as due to the size and shape of the polymer walls. Their elastically soft composite structure is one essential key for the working principle of ferroelectrets, besides the permanent trapping of electric charges inside the polymer voids. The elastic properties allow large deformations of the electrically charged voids. However, the composite structure can also possibly limit the stability and consequently the range of applications because of, e. g., penetration of gas and liquids accompanied by discharge phenomena or because of a mechanical pre-load which may be required during the application. Here, we discuss various stability aspects related to the piezoelectric properties of polypropylene ferroelectrets. Near and below room temperature, the piezoelectric effect and the stability of the trapped charges are practically independent from humidity during long-time storage in a humid atmosphere or water, or from operating conditions, such as continuous mechanical excitation. Thermal treatment of cellular polypropylene above -10°C leads to a softening of the voided structure which is apparent from the decreasing values of the elastic modulus. This decrease results in an increase of the piezoelectric activity. Heating above 60°C, however, leads to a decrease in piezoelectricity.
|State||Published - 2006|