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April 30th, 2009

May 8, 2008 – Modern Ceramics Help Advance Technology

Many important electronic devices used by people today would be
impossible without the use of ceramics. A new study published in the
Journal of the American Ceramic Society illustrates the use of ceramic
materials in the development of technological devices, including mobile
communication and ultrasonic imaging.

Researchers led by Paul Muralt of the Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology reviewed the field of ceramic materials and explored the
critical role that piezoelectric materials play in advancing

Piezoelectric materials are functional ceramic materials that
play a special role in telecommunication and ultrasonic imaging since
they have the ability to efficiently transform electrical signals into
mechanical vibrations, and vice versa. Piezoelectricity refers to the
ability of some materials, notably crystals and ceramics, to generate
electricity when compressed. Over the last twenty years,
micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) have become a proven technology
with many applications. Combined with piezoelectric films (piezo-MEMS)
a number of important advantages are obtained. The intrinsic
electro-mechanical quality of piezo-MEMS based on AlN thin films
resulted in a breakthrough in cell phone technology, allowing for
smaller phones, and a lowering of microwave radiation intensity.

Among piezoelectric thin film materials, PZT has recently shown
much promise and will very likely be used for mass applications.
Ultrahigh resolution ink-jet printing heads are expected to be the next
break-through in piezo-MEMS. At different frequencies, it is possible
that PZT MEMS could be used for motion sensors, vibration sensors, and
optical mirrors, wristwatch rotary drives, and buzzers.

“There are many other applications under investigation, such as
energy harvesting, oscillatory systems for clocks, mirror arrays, and
scanners,” the authors conclude.

This study is published in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of
the American Ceramic Society
. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this
article may contact professionalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

To view the abstract for this article, please click here.

Paul Muralt is affiliated with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne and can be reached for questions at paul.muralt@epfl.ch.
Journal of the American Ceramic Society is among the top sources for
ceramic materials science research, providing scientists, engineers,
and students with critically assessed, original research for nearly 100
years. Ranked third among all journals in the materials
science-ceramics category, the journal publishes 12 issues per year
filled with top quality research that spans the diverse segments of
ceramic science.

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