Acoustic Transduction Materials and Devices

This program supports basic and applied research on materials and device technologies that primarily focus on enhancing existing Navy SONAR and making innovative systems feasible. These systems generate, detect and suppress undersea sound for navigation, threat detection, weapons guidance, communication and the like.

Research Concentration Areas

  • Relaxor-based piezoelectric single crystals from the lead magnesium niobate — lead titanate family that exhibit high electromechanical coupling and high strain levels. All three generations of materials are under study: binary, ternary and modified ternary.
  • Research on crystal growth techniques to increase the crystal quality and size as well as reduce the cost in commercial production
  • Experimental programs target new compositions that expand the operating domain (temperature-strain-field)
  • Precision measurements of full sets of electromechanical properties enable transducer design codes to populate a “virtual shelf” of notional innovative transducers

In conjunction with applications programs, high performance transducers are fabricated, evaluated and inserted into deployed systems for the fleet.

  • On the basic end of the spectrum, theoretical programs devise first-principles, quantum-mechanical methods to reliably calculate the macroscopic electromechanical properties of as-yet-unsynthesized materials.
  • In parallel, experimental basic programs synthesize desirable compositions and measure their macroscopic properties, thereby validating or correcting the theoretical approximations.
  • The focus currently is on the active dielectrics — primarily piezoelectric metal-oxides — that lie at the heart of most Navy SONAR systems producing interrogating sound pulses, detecting weak incoming sound waves and minimizing the sound waves radiated or scattered.
  • In addition, these basic studies also uncover active materials with properties beneficial for other applications, notably electronic and optical devices; such materials work is pursued in conjunction with the appropriate application programs.

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Cost-effective crystal growth techniques for large, high-quality relaxor piezoelectrics
  • New piezocrystal compositions that perform over a larger temperature-strain-field range
  • Measurements of piezocrystal’s electromechanical properties for transducer design codes
  • Design-build-test innovative SONAR transducers
  • Devise first-principles, quantum-mechanical methods to calculate the electromechanical properties of as-yet-unsynthesized materials
  • Synthesize innovative piezocrystal compositions and measure their macroscopic properties
  • Explore — with theory and experiments — novel materials for electronic and optical devices

Program Contact Information

Name: Dr. Wallace Smith

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 332

Email for Questions:

How to Submit

For detailed application and submission information for this research topic, please see our Funding Opportunities page and refer to broad agency announcement (BAA) No. N00014-21-S-B001.

  • Contracts: All white papers and full proposals for contracts must be submitted through FedConnect; instructions are included in the BAA.
  • Grants: All white papers for grants must be submitted through FedConnect, and full proposals for grants must be submitted through; instructions are included in the BAA.

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