Piezoelectric effect

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 6 Jan 2021

The piezoelectric effect converts kinetic or mechanical energy, due to crystal deformation, into electrical energy. This is how ultrasound transducers receive the sound waves.

The same effect can be used in reverse – inverse piezoelectric effect – whereby the application of an electric field to a crystal causes realignment of the internal dipole structure. This realignment results in crystal lengthening or contraction, converting electrical energy into kinetic or mechanical energy. This is how ultrasound transducers produce sound waves.

History and etymology

Piezoelectricity was co-discovered by Pierre Curie (1859-1906) and his brother Jacques (1856-1941) in the period 1878-1880 3,4. The 'piezo' suffix of piezoelectric was formed from the Ancient Greek word πιεζω (piezo) meaning "to press" 2.

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