Editorial Feature

Piezoelectric Devices and Their Expected Rise in the Market

As industrial manufacturers are continuing to demand improved accuracy and precision in their devices, the technology that powers piezoelectric sensors, transducers, actuators, motors and other devices continues to advance towards providing industries better performance compared to any other type of conventional motor. The advancements within the piezoelectric sector are expected to increase its market worth by the year 2022 dramatically.

What is Piezoelectricity? How does it work?

In 1880, Jaques and Pierre Curie, two French scientists and brothers, discovered the phenomenon of piezoelectricity after realizing that when they applied pressure to quartz or any other type of crystal material, an electrical charge is generated. Piezoelectricity, acquired from the Greek word “piezo,” meaning to squeeze or press, supplies energy to many electronic devices that individuals commonly use each day; including Siri, the Apple voice-recognition software, as well as microphones, pressure sensors, hydrophones and several other types of sensing devices.

To generate piezoelectricity, a piezoelectrical material, such as a non-conductive ceramic or crystal, is placed between two metal plates that compress or squeeze the ceramic material to generate electricity1. The electricity that is generated across the material is then collected onto the metal plates and produces the voltage that provides ready to use power.

The Piezoelectric Market

By 2022, it is anticipated that piezoelectric devices market will be worth USD 31.33 billion. The driving factors include an increase in funding available from both the government and private investors, rising demand for the implementation of these devices into automobiles and the development of future energy harvesting techniques. Commonly used piezoelectric materials include:

•    Natural Piezoelectric Substrates

•    Quartz single crystals

•    Piezoelectric Ceramics

•    Lithium biobate

•    Gallium arsenide

•    Zinc oxide

•    Aluminum nitride

•    Lead zirconate-titanate (PZT)

•     Polymer-film Piezoelectrics

•    Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF)

The Growing Piezoelectric Ceramics Industry

While the already growing incorporation of piezoelectric materials into numerous electronic applications plays a vital role in the expected growth of the piezoelectric market over the next several years, the piezoelectric ceramics industry is also a significant contributor of this market growth. Piezoelectric ceramics, which are also referred to as piezoceramics, exhibit properties of large displacements while also inducing high electric voltages as compared to conventional ceramic materials such as quartz, berlinite, and topaz. Additionally, piezoceramics are highly sought after as the elements can be easily customized according to the manufacturers’ specifications at a reasonable price, as compared to the production of other materials for similar uses.

Piezoceramic devices typically fall into one of four categories including generators, sensors, actuators, and transducers.

Piezoceramic Generators

Piezoelectric ceramic can be used to either generate or store electrical energy. As a generator, piezoceramics are capable of producing a strong enough voltage to spark across an electrode gap, thereby allowing its application for gas stoves, fuel lighters, welding equipment, etc.

Piezoceramic Sensors

As any piezoelectric material requires some physical force to generate energy, piezoceramic sensors function by converting acceleration or pressure into an electrical signal. While some piezoceramic sensors need the physical parameter to act directly on the piezoelectric element, other devices can utilize acoustic signals to establish the vibrational energy required to produce an electrical signal.

Piezoceramic Actuators

Piezoceramic actuators convert the electrical signal within a device into a precisely controlled physical displacement that is used to adjust precision machinings such as hydraulic valves, small-volume pumps or special-purpose motors. Piezoceramic actuators can either be in the form of a stack actuator or stripe “bending” actuator.

Piezoceramic Transducers

Piezoceramic transducers convert electrical energy into vibrational mechanical energy in the form of a sound or ultrasound to perform any given task. This type of transducer is often compact, simple and highly reliable, as it often requires a minimal amount of energy input to produce a high level of sound. Piezoelectricity is reversible. Therefore these transducers are capable of both generating a signal from electrical energy and converting sound and ultrasound into electrical energy2.

References:

  1. “What is the Piezoelectric Effect?” – ElectronicDesign
  2. “Applications of Piezoelectric Ceramics” – American Piezo Ceramics International Ltd.

Image credit: anthonycz/shutterstock

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Benedette Cuffari

Written by

Benedette Cuffari

After completing her Bachelor of Science in Toxicology with two minors in Spanish and Chemistry in 2016, Benedette continued her studies to complete her Master of Science in Toxicology in May of 2018. During graduate school, Benedette investigated the dermatotoxicity of mechlorethamine and bendamustine, which are two nitrogen mustard alkylating agents that are currently used in anticancer therapy.

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