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Lithium Niobate Progress Report

One sample, with two electrodes (shown below), were fabricated, and operated in pulse echo mode.


Chemical Preparation:

Lithium Niobate powder was ordered from Sigma Aldrich. To reduce the grain size of the powder, it was
ball milled in the materials characterization lab for 1 week in an agitator. I can provide details of this
procedure upon request.

0.133g of Potato Starch is added to 10ml of distilled water.

This solution is brought to a boil on a hotplate set to 400C and allowed to cool to room temperature.

The starch / water mixture thickens with heat, and becomes less viscous again as it cools.

3g Lithium Niobate is added to 5ml of the starch / water solution.

This mixture is agitated with an ultrasonic horn for 30 seconds.

Deposition of the thick film and electrodes:

1” diameter x 1” in height carbon steel rodlets are heated on a hot plate, at 400C, for 10 minutes.

The rodlets are removed from the hotplate and allowed to cool for 5 minutes.

Next, a coat of the Lithium Niobate / Starch / Water solution is painted onto the rodlets.

Another coat is applied immediately after the first coat is painted on.

After two coats have been painted on, the rodlets are allowed to cool to room temperature.

The samples are heated again, on the hot plate, to 400C.

The samples are removed, and allowed to cool for two minutes.

Silver paint is “hot-painted” onto the thick film, to establish an electrode.

Once the sample cools to room temperature, a small wire is attached to the electrode with more silver
paint, and the paint is allowed to dry overnight.


The electrodes are immersed in silicone oil.

Ground is attached to the base of the cylinder, and the red lead to the wire.

Voltage is slowly ramped to 700V, where it is held for 10 minutes.

Now the sample is ready for testing.


The sample was tested in pulse echo mode, on the Olympus Panametrics.

Settings were as follows:

Mode: Pulse/Echo

PRF: 100Hz

Energy: 100uJ

Damping: 25 Ohm

High Pass filter: 1 MHz

Low Pass filter: 10 MHz

Input Attenuation: 0 dB

Output Attenuation: 8.0 dB

Gain: 60.0dB
The oscilloscope was set to the highest possible averaging setting, of 256.

The following signals were detected:

Electrode 1:

Electrode 2:

While the signal was not very strong from these transducers, it is still the first successful transducer we
have fabricated using lithium niobate. The higher poling voltages used, enabled by use of the silicone
oil, in my opinion, are what led to this success. That said, I think much more can be done to try to
enhance the strength of the signal. I believe that it is worth trying to deposit the films with a spray on
deposition method, as this has produced better results with similarly fabricated bismuth titanate
transducers. I also think that continuing to push the poling voltage higher will increase the response of
lithium niobate.