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Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

First Advisor

Reza Shahbazian Yassar

Co-Advisor

Yoke Khin Yap

Abstract

Emerging nanogenerators have attracted the attention of the research community, focusing on energy generation using piezoelectric nanomaterials. Nanogenerators can be utilized for powering NEMS/MEMS devices. Understanding the piezoelectric properties of ZnO one-dimensional materials such as ZnO nanobelts (NBs) and Nanowires (NWs) can have a significant impact on the design of new devices. The goal of this dissertation is to study the piezoelectric properties of one-dimensional ZnO nanostructures both experimentally and theoretically. First, the experimental procedure for producing the ZnO nanostructures is discussed. The produced ZnO nanostructures were characterized using an in-situ atomic force microscope and a piezoelectric force microscope. It is shown that the electrical conductivity of ZnO NBs is a function of applied mechanical force and its crystalline structure. This phenomenon was described in the context of formation of an electric field due to the piezoelectric property of ZnO NBs. In the PFM studies, it was shown that the piezoelectric response of the ZnO NBs depends on their production method and presence of defects in the NB. Second, a model was proposed for making nanocomposite electrical generators based on ZnO nanowires. The proposed model has advantages over the original configuration of nanogenerators which uses an AFM tip for bending the ZnO NWs. Higher stability of the electric source, capability for producing larger electric fields, and lower production costs are advantages of this configuration. Finally, piezoelectric properties of ZnO NBs were simulated using the molecular dynamics (MD) technique. The size-scale effect on piezoelectric properties of ZnO NBs was captured, and it is shown that the piezoelectric coefficient of ZnO NBs decreases by increasing their lateral dimensions. This phenomenon is attributed to the surface charge redistribution and compression of unit cells that are placed on the outer shell of ZnO NBs.

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