Piezoelectric Transducers: Advantages

Piezoelectric transducers are transducers that can convert any form of pressure or mechanical stress into electrical energy. To begin this discussion of piezo transducers, we must first understand the components of such a product. The term piezoelectric refers to electricity caused by physical pressure. Piezoelectric transducers are able to measure these physical energies and convert it to a proportional form of electrical energies or electrical signals. Piezo transducers allow the mechanical input to then become a readable measure of electrical output.

A piezo transducer can be described as a combination of a sensor and an actuator. A piezoelectric sensor senses mechanical changes in the outside world and translates them into an electrical signal which is monitored to measure those changes. In the same sense, a piezoelectric actuator can convert the electrical signal into mechanical energy or physical movement. When assembled, a piezoelectric transducer performs both roles as the sensor and actuator. The piezoelectric transducer converts mechanical changes into an electrical signal, then can use that signal to generate displacement.

Piezoelectric materials are extremely volatile in the sense that they have no restrictions on the shape in which they are manufactured given their flexibility. This gives piezoelectric transducers a significantly broader range of potential applications in various conditions compared to other types of transducers. Their ability to self-generate voltage also eliminates the need for an external power source. Some applications take advantage of this property of piezo ceramics and use it to harvest energy from mechanical impacts. Piezoelectric transducers can effectively operate at very low voltages and relatively high temperatures (up to their Curie point), furthering their range of applications.

Piezoelectric Sensors and Actuators: Applications

A piezoelectric sensor is a type of transducer mostly used in measuring vibrations, acceleration, strain, force, and movement. Applications for piezo sensors involving sound are most common, such as sensing vibrations in microphones and amplifiers. Piezoelectric sensors play a prominent role in the healthcare industry. Ultrasound equipment utilizes piezoelectric transducers by sending and receiving sound waves to monitor pregnancies and even perform non-invasive surgical procedures, such as breaking up kidney stones.

Piezo sensors can also be used to measure pulse, manufacture PPE and medical equipment, and define accurate and specific droplet size for microdosing and nebulizers. Nebulizers and humidifiers are some of the most prominent medical applications for piezoelectric transducers. An electrical signal is applied to cause a mesh filter to vibrate, pushing water up through the mesh and releasing liquid vapor particles into the air or lungs. This is a type of piezoelectric actuator known as a piezo atomizer.

Industrial applications for piezo sensors include aerospace, automotive, nuclear, and even underwater research where they must withstand temperature and pressure. Engine knock sensors, pressure sensors, and sonar equipment all rely extensively on the accuracy of piezoelectric sensors.

An excellent example of piezoelectric transducers can be seen in charging devices for internet of things, or physical internet sensors that exchange data with other sensors. These piezoelectric sensors receive ultrasonic signals in the air which through vibrations. This mechanical energy is converted into an electrical signal which charges the device through energy transmission.

Many everyday consumer products also utilize piezoelectric sensors and transducers, such as key fobs, microwaves, watches, alarms, PIN pads, and sliding doors. Piezoelectricity is an undeniably beneficial resource, and the applications for piezo transducers and sensors is limitless. Please contact Piezo Direct at 650-375-7003 or info@piezodirect.com to learn more about custom piezo manufacturing.