An OK Science Report – Piezoelectric Crystals

Piezoelectric crystals are amazing, probably one of the interesting materials in today’s technological market. But what is a piezoelectric crystal? To summarise complicated maths and physics, piezoelectricity is property certain crystals have. The principle is this – an electric charge is stored in response to mechanical stress. In everyday terms, you make electricity when you change the shape of the crystal – this can be from temperature or pressure. The truly amazing aspect of this technology is that the piezoelectric effect is reversible. This means that the charge can be released out of the crystal when needed.

How is this useful? It’s been one of the key properties used throughout the 20th Century: from sonar to record players to transformers to motors. There are of course many more specific piezoelectric based technologies that the medical, energy and research industries. Piezoelectric crystals have the cornerstones for multiple, innovative inventions throughout the past century and beyond.

We are fortunate that quartz, a very common crystal family, exhibits this piezoelectric property. In order to make an invention be transformative, you need to have the materials that are cheap and easy to find. It’s the problem with solar cells at this point in time. There isn’t a material that a commonplace enough to be efficient enough to be commercial use.

I hope this has been informative and encourage you to research these fascinating crystals.


©Oliver Kerrigan 2018

Want more? Well, I’m writing a book where the main artefacts are made from a piezoelectric material. The book is called the Successor of Ramiel where Angels and Fallen Angels collide.

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