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 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.