Introduction to Fine Ceramics
Characteristics of Fine Ceramics
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  HOME > Characteristics of Fine Ceramics > Electrical - Piezoelectricity 
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Converting Mechanical Vibration into Electricity
Some Fine Ceramics (also known as “advanced ceramics”) possess a unique property allowing them to convert mechanical shock or vibration into electrical signals, and vice versa. These materials, called piezoelectric ceramics, are built into a wide variety of products. One example is the stovetop burner used in a typical kitchen gas range that is ignited by converting mechanical shock into an electrical arc that lights the gas. The clicking noise you hear when you turn the control dial is the sound of a piezoelectric ceramic being struck to induce the necessary mechanical shock. Some lighters also use this mechanism.
Applications: Piezoelectric ignition units designed to light gas burners.

Piezoelectric materials exhibit both a direct and a reverse piezoelectric effect. The direct effect produces an electrical charge when a mechanical vibration or shock is applied to the material, while the reverse effect creates a mechanical vibration or shock when electricity is applied.

Piezoelectric substances are polycrystalline materials consisting of lead zirconate titanate, or PZT. Lead (Pb), zirconium (Zr) and titanium (Ti) are combined with additives to achieve desired levels of performance. A PZT component possesses the unique ability to generate vibrations based on its shape when electricity is applied, and to generate electricity upon exposure to mechanical vibration or shock.

The term "Fine Ceramics" is interchangeable with "advanced ceramics," "technical ceramics" and "engineered ceramics." Use varies by region and industry.
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