Quartz SiO2
Berlinite AlPO4
Gallium orthophosphate GaPO4
Barium titanate BaTiO3
Lead zirconate titanate PZT

Other materials
Zinc oxide ZnO
Aluminum nitride AlN
Polyvinylidene fluoride PVDF
More piezo materials

Ultrasonic transducers
Piezoelectric motors
Other applications


Piezoelectric materials

Introduction: the piezoelectric effect

The piezoelectric effect describes the relation between a mechanical stress and an electrical voltage in solids.

It is reversbile: an applied mechanical stress will generate a voltage and an applied voltage will change the shape of the solid by a small amount (up to a 4% change in volume).

In physics, the piezoelectric effect can be described as the the link between electrostatics and mechanics.

piezoelectric effect


The piezoelectric effect was discovered in 1880 by the Jacques and Pierre Curie brothers. They found out that when a mechanical stress was applied on crystals such as tourmaline, tourmaline, topaz, quartz, Rochelle salt and cane sugar, electrical charges appeared, and this voltage was proportional to the stress.

First applications were piezoelectric ultrasonic transducers and soon swinging quartz for standards of frequency (quartz clocks).

An everyday life application example is your car's airbag sensor. The material detects the intensity of the shock and sends an electricla signal which triggers the airbag.

Piezoelectric materials

The piezoelectric effect occurs only in non conductive materials. Piezoelectric materials can be divided in 2 main groups: crystals and cermaics. The most well-known piezoelectric material is quartz (SiO2).

Copyright 2007
Last updated 21 July 2007

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