Article No.
Title : Piezoelectric properties of polypoptide-PMMA molecular composites fabricated by contact charging

The most common piezoelectric materials (PM) in use today are ceramic crystals which are heavy and
brittle despite high piezoelectricity. Polymer-based PM is an alternative to ceramic crystals but they have
lower piezoelectric coupling constants which deteriorates quickly at high temperature. In an effort to
develop non-brittle and light PM with stable piezoelectric properties, we explored fabrication of
composite materials comprising piezoelectric a-helical poly(a-amino acids), poly(g-benzyl a,L-glutamate)
(PBLG) and matrix polymer, poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA). Thick composite disks were
created by contact charging of PBLGeMMA solution mixture followed by curing the MMA matrix in
a designed mold. Compared to our prior method of corona discharge, this new method allowed the
application of predefined electrical fields to the PMMA solution with little MMA evaporation. This
communication presents the fabrication and characterization of a series of PBLGePMMA composite disks
with various PBLG compositions prepared under different poling conditions. The results show for the
first time that all PBLGs can be poled in the direction normal to the disk surface and that the poled PBLGs
within the PMMA matrix are directly responsible for the piezoelectricity of the composite materials. The
two-polymer composite system allows independent modulation of film’s mechanical properties and
piezoelectricity at a molecular level.

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