MATERIAL WORLD, DOMUS n 890 March  2006

What are you?

A family of crystals, nowadays usually ceramics: lithium niobate, lead zirconate titanate and many others with the ability to convert a mechanical signal into electrical (sensors) and vice-versa (transductors)

What do you do?

When under pressure, we generate electrical tension and if exposed to  electrical tension we undergo a deformation, or vibrate with an intensity proportional to the energy applied. We can generate small, extremely precise movements.

Who invented you?

In 1880 two physicists, Jacques and Pierre Curie,  discovered that certain types of crystals have electromechanical properties.

What are you used for?

In quartz watches we vibrate at regular intervals, in gas lighters we make the spark, in “energy scavenging” devices we generate electricity by harnessing vibration, in audio speakers we make the membrane vibrate, in Braille terminals for blind we transform video signals into relief display, in high-tech skis weautomatically alter the ski’s rigidity…

What would you like to do?

Glass windows that acta s speakers… smart tiles that record the passage of people… sensors that can be buried inside buildings structures to detect  structures  failures… cell-phones that recharge themselves using the vibrations of cars and trains… responsive buildings…

Who makes you?

www.ceramtec.com , www.kyocera.com , morgan matrox , www.americanpiezo.com

Emanuele Ricci