Topology optimization of flexoelectric structures

S. S. Nanthakumar, Xiaoying Zhuang, Harold S. Park, Timon Rabczuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


We present a mixed finite element formulation for flexoelectric nanostructures that is coupled with topology optimization to maximize their intrinsic material performance with regards to their energy conversion potential. Using Barium Titanate (BTO) as the model flexoelectric material, we demonstrate the significant enhancement in energy conversion that can be obtained using topology optimization. We also demonstrate that non-smooth surfaces can play a key role in the energy conversion enhancements obtained through topology optimization. Finally, we examine the relative benefits of flexoelectricity, and surface piezoelectricity on the energy conversion efficiency of nanobeams. We find that the energy conversion efficiency of flexoelectric nanobeams is comparable to the energy conversion efficiency obtained from nanobeams whose electromechanical coupling occurs through surface piezoelectricity, but are ten times thinner. Overall, our results not only demonstrate the utility and efficiency of flexoelectricity as a nanoscale energy conversion mechanism, but also its relative superiority as compared to piezoelectric or surface piezoelectric effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-234
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Aug
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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