Piezoelectricity is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials (such as crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure and latent heat. It is derived from the Greek πιέζειν piezein, which means to squeeze or press, and ἤλεκτρον ēlektron, which means amber, an ancient source of electric charge. Piezoelectricity was discovered in 1880 by French physicists Jacques and Pierre Curie.
The piezoelectric effect is understood as the linear electromechanical interaction between the mechanical and the electrical state in crystalline materials with no inversion symmetry. The piezoelectric effect is a reversible process in that materials exhibiting the direct piezoelectric effect (the internal generation of electrical charge resulting from an applied mechanical force) also exhibit the reverse piezoelectric effect (the internal generation of a mechanical strain resulting from an applied electrical field). For example, lead zirconate titanate crystals will generate measurable piezoelectricity when their static structure is deformed by about 0.1% of the original dimension. Conversely, those same crystals will change about 0.1% of their static dimension when an external electric field is applied to the material. The inverse piezoelectric effect is used in the production of ultrasonic sound waves.
Piezoelectricity is exploited in a number of useful applications, such as the production and detection of sound, piezoelectric inkjet printing, generation of high voltages, electronic frequency generation, microbalances, to drive an ultrasonic nozzle, and ultrafine focusing of optical assemblies. It forms the basis for a number of scientific instrumental techniques with atomic resolution, the scanning probe microscopies, such as STM, AFM, MTA, and SNOM. It also finds everyday uses such as acting as the ignition source for cigarette lighters, and push-start propane barbecues, as well as being used as the time reference source in quartz watches. - Wikipedia
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