Materials for Green Technology

Innovation driven by niobates

Niobates are oxide compounds that contain niobium and another metal ion. Most of these materials are characterized by good piezoelectric properties. For many innovative applications they can play a decisive role for the functionality and performance of devices. In automotive applications they can improve efficiency and emission value of diesel cars or enable the future trend of connected and autonomous driving by improving performance of sensors and actuators.

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Moreover, the outstanding properties of newly developed ceramics based on niobates allow for new treatment approaches and development of innovative medical equipment.

Our niobate product group includes magnesium niobate and potassium niobate, other niobates are produced upon request.

Lead Free Piezo Ceramics

Heading towards a greener future

The H.C. Starck Tantalum and Niobium GmbH is developing lead-free materials based on potassium sodium niobate (KNN) compounds for the replacement of conventional lead-zirconate-titanate (PZT) containing piezoceramics*. In addition, we offer potassium niobate and niobium pentoxide ceramic grade with extremely low particle sizes as precursors for production of piezoceramics. Further materials for example sodium niobate and lithium niobate are available upon request.

Our lithium sodium potassium niobate has been developed since several years and can be provided with customized structural phase compositions as well as primary particle sizes.

Niobium based piezoceramic materials enable to achieve comparable or even improved technological performance compared to lead- based piezoceramic solutions. Due to their higher Curie temperature (~100-150°C higher than for PZT), niobium-based piezoceramics are promising candidates to replace lead-zirconate-titanate . Furthermore, they could be applied in high temperature environment, where current piezoceramic materials like PZT cannot be used.

Niobate based piezoceramic materials enable the usage of nickel electrodes instead of silver (Ag) or palladium (Pd). Thus, different piezoelectric constants can be compensated in actuator applications by using more layers, as the piezoelectric elongation of an actuator is proportional to the number of layers at a given voltage.

*The directive 2011/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2011 Annex III 7(c)I regulates the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances like lead in electronic components e.g. in actuator, sensor technology or other piezoceramic based components. The validity of the exemption has been prolongated until 21 July 2021.