Center for Piezoelectrics by Design web page

The Center for Piezoelectrics by Design

A consortium of universities and research laboratories has established the Center for Piezoelectrics by Design, based at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and funded by a major grant from the Office of Naval Research.

The Center is located at the College of William & Mary, and is housed at the Applied Research Center adjacent to the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News.


The Center conducts research into the theoretical prediction and experimental realization of new members of a unique class of materials, piezoelectrics, which convert sound waves into electrical signals, and back. Applications of piezoelectric materials include medical ultrasound devices and naval sonar. Advances in piezoelectric materials could dramatically improve the portability and performance of these and other systems based on transducers, the general term for devices that inter-convert electrical and mechanical energy.

The search for better piezoelectric materials has generally relied on costly and time consuming trial and error synthesis and testing of candidate materials. The Center for Piezoelectrics by Design uses computational modeling to develop new types of candidate materials and to screen them for desired properties before taking them into the laboratory.

All known high-performance piezoelectrics are structurally and chemically complex materials. The ability to reliably predict the properties of such materials by computational modeling is the result of steady advances in computational materials physics, and over a decade of ONR-supported theoretical research on ferroelectric and piezoelectric oxides and related materials. However, the design of piezoelectrics requires an unprecedented degree of cooperation among the participating scientists. The Center has been established to facilitate these efforts, with the construction of a special cluster of computers, specialized software support, and a regular schedule of team meetings.

©2011 The College of William and Mary