Technological breakthrough in ultra-high temperature piezoelectric ceramics
DJB Instruments is the UK’s only manufacturer of accelerometers, dynamic pressure transducers, cable assemblies and associated instrumentation – all of which are widely used across all engineering sectors.
There has long been a gap in the market for high- and ultra-high temperature piezoelectric ceramics for use in accelerometers for vibration measurement.
The company embarked on its second KTP with the University to develop high-temperature piezo-sensors for demanding applications including aircraft engine health monitoring.
Despite the impacts of Covid-19 restrictions on industry, the team were able to safely continue and successfully complete the project.
Benefits for the company
The KTP has successfully demonstrated a piezoelectric material suitable for operation up to 900oC. DJB is now ready to develop an ultra-high temperature accelerometer. This unrivalled technological achievement could help the UK to capture and lead a hugely potential market.
The three-year partnership also supported the refinement of customer support and business development activities. The KTP Associate, Chang Shu, was involved in critical technical marketing and customer visits to China, India and USA. These have enhanced the company's market presence and provided valuable credibility in new market development.
The company reports that the partnership has also delivered other unexpected benefits.
New knowledge and expertise have been embedded across the company – spanning material handling, new production processes, and improved testing capabilities – which are enhancing cost efficiency and productivity.
Perhaps the biggest unforeseen benefit has been a growing openness to change and a willingness to explore innovative ways of doing things – making the company more nimble and proactive in a challenging marketplace.
Benefits for the University
The development and demonstration of a novel ultra-high temperature piezoelectric ceramic is a technological breakthrough – and places the University at the forefront of work in this area.
To support the research, the team designed and developed a high precision, high voltage poling facility. Once successfully trialled, a second rig was built and installed in the DJB labs. They then secured capital equipment funding which has allowed them to acquire a P-E loop testing facility suitable for piezoelectric materials characterisation. These new resources are facilitating ongoing research.
Meanwhile, the KTP has allowed the researchers involved to develop an invaluable understanding of the financial and technology transfer aspects of collaborative industrial partnerships.
Student learning has also been positively impacted. The knowledge gained – around piezoelectric materials and their applications – has been assimilated by both undergraduate and postgraduate project modules.
The project’s KTP Associate is now employed by DJB as a Research and Development Manager. She is leading several R&D projects and supporting ongoing business development activities.
Read about the company’s first KTP with the University.
"This is our second KTP with the University and it’s been another valuable collaboration. As a small business, we lack the resources of our bigger international competitors, but these KTPs have really helped us to get ahead."
Neill Ovenden – Managing Director, DJB Instruments