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Australia's DMTC bids to boost single-crystal technology

Australia's DMTC is developing advanced piezoelectric technologies that can support the country's undersea capabilities such as the RAN's Collins-class submarines (pictured above). (Commonwealth of Australia)

Projects launched under the Advanced Piezoelectric Materials and Application (APMA) programme co-established by Australia's DMTC and the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group will spur the country's efforts towards domestic manufacturing of single crystals for sonars and other advanced capabilities, a spokesperson for DMTC told Janes .

The spokesperson said that “high-performing single crystals represent the next generation of piezoelectric materials”.

While the use of piezoelectric materials is “relatively common in navigation and sonar equipment, and more broadly sensor and actuator applications”, the utilisation of single crystals has been “limited by both cost and a reliance on imported products”, said the DMTC spokesperson.

Single crystals can strengthen defence capabilities by “offering enhanced electromechanical performance including greater bandwidth and sensitivity, and the ability to produce more compact, lighter-weight sonar array systems”, the spokesperson added.

A media release issued by DMTC said single-crystal piezoelectrics can “contribute to Australia's submarine and undersea capabilities” and towards maintaining tactical superiority “under, on, and beyond the sea”. According to the spokesperson, this is possible because these advanced piezoelectric materials have “significant performance benefits [compared to traditional materials] in terms of signal transmission and reception”.

The spokesperson also said that DMTC, formerly known as Defence Materials Technology Centre, has been collaborating with researchers at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and with researchers and engineers at Thales Australia since 2013 on advancing this technology and “to demonstrate a sovereign manufacturing capability for Australia”.

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