Understanding the Origin of Enhanced Piezoelectric Response in PVDF Matrices with Embedded ZnO Nanoparticles, from Polarizable Molecular Dynamics Simulations

JM Marmolejo-Tejada and J De la Roche-Yepes and CA Perez-Lopez and JAP Taborda and A Avila and A Jaramillo-Botero, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL INFORMATION AND MODELING, 61, 4537-4543 (2021).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jcim.1c00822

The pervasive use of portable electronic devices, powered from rechargeable batteries, represents a significant portion of the electricity consumption in the world. A sustainable and alternative energy source for these devices would require unconventional power sources, such as harvesting kinetic/potential energy from mechanical vibrations, ultrasound waves, and biomechanical motion, to name a few. Piezoelectric materials transform mechanical deformation into electric fields or, conversely, external electric fields into mechanical motion. Therefore, accurate prediction of elastic and piezoelectric properties of materials, from the atomic structure and composition, is essential for studying and optimizing new piezogenerators. Here, we demonstrate the application of harmonic-covalent and reactive force fields (FF), Dreiding and ReaxFF, respectively, coupled to the polarizable charge equilibration (PQEq) model for predicting the elastic moduli and piezoelectric response of crystalline zinc oxide (ZnO) and polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF). Furthermore, we parametrized the ReaxFF atomic interactions for Zn-F in order to characterize the interfacial effects in hybrid PVDF matrices with embedded ZnO nanoparticles (NPs). We capture the nonlinear piezoelectric behavior of the PVDF-ZnO system at different ZnO concentrations and the enhanced response that was recently observed experimentally, between 5 and 7 wt % ZnO concentrations. From our simulation results, we demonstrate that the origin of this enhancement is due to an increase in the total atomic stress distribution at the interface between the two materials. This result provides valuable insight into the design of new and improved piezoelectric nanogenerators and demonstrates the practical value of these first-principles based modeling methods in materials science.

Return to Publications page