Skip to Main Content
Much work has been published on the design of ultrasound transducers using piezoelectric ceramics, but a great deal of this work does not apply when using the piezoelectric polymers because of their unique electrical and mechanical properties. The purpose of this paper is to review and present new insight into seven important considerations for the design of active piezoelectric polymer ultrasound transducers: piezoelectric polymer materials selection, transducer construction and packaging requirements, materials characterization and modeling, film thickness and active area design, electroding selection, backing material design, and front protection/matching layer design. Besides reviewing these design considerations, this paper also presents new insight into the design of active piezoelectric polymer ultrasonic transducers. The design and fabrication of an immersible ultrasonic transducer, which has no adhesive layer between the active element and backing layer, is included. The transducer features direct deposition of poly(vinylidene fluoride-trifluoroethylene) [P(VDF-TrFE)] copolymer onto an insulated aluminum backing substrate. Pulse-echo tests indicated a minimum insertion loss of 37 dB and -6 dB bandwidth of 9.8 to 22 MHz (71%). The use of polymer wear-protection/quarter-wave matching layers is also discussed. Test results on a P(VDF-TrFE) transducer showed that a Mylar/sup TM/ front layer provided a slight increase in pulse-echo amplitude of 15% (or 1.2 dB) and an increase in -6 dB pulse-echo fractional bandwidth from 86 to 95%. Theoretical derivations are reported for optimizing the active area of the piezoelectric polymer element for maximum power transfer at resonance. These derivations are extended to the special case for a low profile (i.e., thin) shielded transducer. A method for modeling the non-linear loading effects of a commercial pulser-receiver is also included.