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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P019919/1
Title: Charging ahead with Multi-layer Ceramic Capacitor materials
Principal Investigator: Dean, Dr JS
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Messrs Avx/kyocera
Department: Materials Science and Engineering
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 July 2017 Ends: 30 June 2018 Value (£): 99,802
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation Materials Processing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
09 Feb 2017 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 9 and 10 February 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Multi-layered ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) are the foundation of the electronics (passive components) industry. Each layer within a MLCC is made by sintering a powdered, typically a chemically-doped, functional oxide such as Barium Titanate. This processing route generates a complex microstructure that can include grains, grain-boundaries, pores, interface roughness and graded material properties. Many of these microstructural effects are known to influence device performance but the knowledge of their exact mechanism and strength of their effect is limited. At present the favoured approach towards optimising these effects is based on trial and error experimentation; however, this is challenging and time and resource consuming. It would benefit both academics and industry working on MLCC systems to be able to analyse such microstructural phenomena in a resource efficient, controlled and systematic way. This would not only allow a faster route towards optimisation of current materials and devices, but also allow quickly the analysis of rare earth-free sustainable alternatives.

To achieve this, the project will develop new capabilities in modelling functional materials. We shall develop an advanced microstructural package to create realistic three-dimensional microstructures representing the main microstructural features listed above. By combining this with a state-of-the-art finite element modelling package, we shall be able to test what effects these have on device performance and allow us to guide the processing of the underlaying materials. While this proposal will be targeted towards challenges in functional oxide materials for MLCCs, due to the flexibility of the methodologies used, the codes will also be applicable to a much wider range of functional materials and devices. This includes but is not limited to solid oxide fuel cells, thermoelectric generators, piezo-electric sensors & actuators and beyond into magnetic and radiation damaged materials.

The microstructural generation package will be based on two sources. Firstly, systems will be created from the analysis of experimental microstructures supplied by experimental groups and our industrial partner (AvX Ltd). Secondly, artificial systems will be generated using an array of mathematical algorithms, allowing controllable characteristics and a systematic approach in analysis. The first study using this new package will be to better understand how the doping of the ceramic material, that forms the physical 'core-shell' microstructure, can influence the current flow through the microstructure. This will be extended to how inadequate mixing of the dopants into the base material can manifest itself in a poor electrical response and performance of the device. Further analysis will be conducted on the effects of porosity and interfacial ceramic/metal electrode roughness that contribute to advancing degradation in in MLCCs and are ultimately considered to be the limiting factors in device lifetime.

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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk