NGTF investment spurs pursuit of technology gains
Projects have commenced in the Advanced Piezoelectric Materials and Applications (APMA) Program under a five-year collaboration between DMTC Limited and its partners, including Defence scientists, to accelerate the development of next-generation piezoelectric materials for defence applications.
The characteristics of this emerging class of third-generation piezoelectrics in terms of reduced weight and power requirements, and enhanced electro-mechanical interactions, offers the promise of order-of-magnitude capability gains in areas such as undersea surveillance and sonar systems.
Support from Defence’s Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF) and StaR Shot missions, managed by Defence Science and Technology Group, is geared towards technology advancement in support of realising the integrated undersea surveillance system capability envisioned in the Defence Strategic Update 2020.
The APMA Program delivered by DMTC represents a coordinated, collaborative, long-term vision to establish a strategic national capability in advanced piezoelectric materials and their application.
The Program extends along the entire pipeline from education and training, to research and development, to providing Australian industry with a world-leading capability to design and fabricate piezoelectrics for sonars. The Program is making strategic investments in industrial and research infrastructure.
Single crystal forms of piezoelectrics produce enhanced performance due to their microstructure.
The first phase of the APMA Program is focused on fully characterising and understanding the properties that will enable piezoelectric technology to be utilised to efficiently produce single crystals of a size required for advanced transducer devices.
This will remove the current reliance on imported single crystal and ensure security of supply for both sovereign Australian and export opportunities.
ANSTO has been a lead researcher in the field of piezoelectrics working with Thales Australia. Universities around Australia have also been brought on board, including UNSW Sydney, the University of Sydney, the University of Wollongong, Monash University, RMIT and the Australian National University.
Australian startup business Critus Pty Ltd will work with DMTC to develop piezoelectric characterisation instruments that will provide unique and rapid insights into the structural properties and performance of piezoelectric material samples.
In line with DMTC’s track record of achieving innovation breakthroughs across traditional Defence domains, the developments in this area are also expected to translate to enhancements in sensors for aerospace platforms.
A DSTG spokesperson said:
“The aims of this five-year program are twofold – first, to stimulate a robust national research program, and secondly to translate that research into a sovereign industrial capability in the manufacture and application of single crystal piezoelectric materials.
In the space of five years, we expect measurable outcomes for industry and for academia, and we certainly expect to see the manufacture of single crystal piezoelectrics at scale and under industrial conditions. Together, the NGTF and the StaR Shot missions are about ensuring the national S&T enterprise is strengthened and leveraged to achieve scale and focus resources on Defence’s highest S&T priorities, supporting the transition of good technological ideas into capability.”
DMTC CEO, Dr Mark Hodge said:
“The APMA Program creates an overarching framework through which DMTC will bring together research and funding mechanisms under one umbrella. It extends a range of transformative projects that DST Group, DMTC and its partners, including Thales Australia and ANSTO, have been working on for many years. This is another example of DMTC working collaboratively with DSTG to develop sovereign industrial capability that align with Defence priorities.”