National Physical Laboratory

Functional Materials Functional Materials

We aim to support industry with measurements of piezoelectric, thermoelectric, dielectric and magnetic material properties and maintain our competitive advantage through active involvement in cutting-edge research.

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Functional materials exploit coupling between multiple variables - for example, transforming mechanical energy to electrical energy in piezoelectric materials, or providing electrical control of magnetic properties. The piezoelectric effect has become a common part of many technologies we routinely use in everyday life. It is crucial in many areas for example, the healthcare and automotive industries, and environmental monitoring.

What we do

We investigate material properties, device performance and new application concepts. Our research is focused on materials with electrical and magnetic functionality, specifically:

  • Electromechanical and Magnetoelectrical coupling measurements
  • Electrical measurements in harsh environments (e.g. temperature, humidity, stress, field) and bias fields (e.g. electrical, magnetic)
  • Dielectric and Magnetic measurements

In addition other multifunctional materials and systems are also explored. We have developed ab initio models and experimental tools to describe fundamental properties of ferroelectric, multiferroic and the multifunctional behaviour of modern sensor/actuator materials. We are also exploring the link between atomic scale physics and macroscopic performance (as well as behaviour from femtosecond to year-long timescales) and specifically the role metrology has in elucidating this.


Piezo Institute
Dielectric Good Practice Guide

Meet the team


Bringing together experts from the multiferroics, magnetoelectrics and ferroelectrics communities with neutron and synchrotron facility users to present the latest developments in the field.
The Industrial Advisory Group (IAG) acts as the focal point for open discussion and views in support of the project. Membership of the IAG is free and provides an easy mechanism for collaboration on research projects.
The Piezo Institute is the centre of European expertise and resources in piezoelectric materials and devices.


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