The fabrication of a single material being a competitive actuator as well as an electric current generator is no longer a challenge. This article presents novel nanocomposites based on a polyurethane (PU) matrix containing (0-5 wt.%) iron carbide-based nanofillers (Fe3C@C) fabricated by electrospinning. Such materials have both electrostrictive and magnetoelectric properties. The introduction of conductive fillers in PU, which is a good candidate for actuating applications, improved the electro-mechanical coupling due to an increase in the composite permittivity. A significant increase of the dielectric permittivity and an almost 7 fold gain for the deflection strain under 17 V/μm were measured on a diaphragm-type actuator for the PU-2.5 wt.% Fe3C@C nanocomposite. It was shown that a higher loading led to reduced actuation properties, probably due to the presence of Fe3C aggregates in the composite as shown by Focused Ion Beam characterization. The magnetoelectric (ME) properties of the nanocomposites still showed an increase for contents over 2.5 wt.%. The current generated by the nanocomposite, when subjected to a magnetic field, was comparable or higher than several ceramic materials and at least 100 times higher than polymer-based systems studied for their ME behavior.
- Iron carbide
- Magnetoelectric effect