Development of magnetoelectric CoFe2O4 /poly(vinylidene fluoride) microspheres
Magnetoelectric microspheres based on piezoelectric poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) and magnetostrictive CoFe2O4 (CFO), a novel morphology for polymer-based ME materials, have been developed by an electrospray process. The CFO nanoparticle content in the (3–7 μm diameter) microspheres reaches values up to 27 wt%, despite their concentration in the starting solution reaching values up to 70 wt%. Additionally, the inclusion of magnetostrictive nanoparticles into the polymer spheres has no relevant effect on the piezoelectric β-phase content (≈60%), crystallinity (40%) and the onset degradation temperature (460–465 °C) of the polymer matrix. The multiferroic microspheres show a maximum piezoelectric response |d33| ≈ 30 pC N−1, leading to a magnetoelectric response of Δ|d33| ≈ 5 pC N−1 obtained when a 220 mT DC magnetic field was applied. It is also shown that the interface between CFO nanoparticles and PVDF (from 0 to 55%) has a strong influence on the ME response of the microspheres. The simplicity and the scalability of the processing method suggest a large application potential of this novel magnetoelectric geometry in areas such as tissue engineering, sensors and actuators.