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What is Piezoelectric?

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Piezoelectric Simply Explained

Quartz is a piezoelectric (pee-ay-zo-electric) crystal meaning it releases an electrical current when squeezed, compressed or distorted.

When the process is reversed and the crystal is exposed to an electrical current it releases a vibration at a precise frequency.

Other piezoelectric crystals include topaz and tourmaline.

Piezoelectricity was discovered by French brothers Jacques and Pierre Curie in 1880.

For a crystal to vibrate it must be exposed to mechanical stress.

Quartz crystals used for the purpose of timekeeping vibrate at precisely 32,768 times a second.  The vibration is similar to the way a glass rings when tapped.

The word "piezoelectric" comes from the Greek "piezein" meaning "squeeze" or "press".

Quartz crystals vibrate at a consistent and regular pace when an electric current is applied. The vibrations occur at exceptionally precise intervals.

The piezoelectricity produced by a quartz crystal enables an electronic circuit to generate regular accurate signals that are essential for measuring time.

The natural frequency at which a quartz crystal vibrates is determined by its shape, size, thickness and how it has been cut.

The frequency of the vibration can be adjusted by altering any one of these properties.

Piezoelectricity is used everywhere around the world in countless products.  These include timekeeping devices, radios, televisions, video equipment, sensors and mobile 'phones.

As technology advances the future of piezoelectricity is endless.

Piezoelectric technology has been installed in the floor of some subway stations in Japan. The floor tiles are designed to convert the mechanical stress from commuters' footsteps into electrical energy.

The electricity is then used to power various systems within the station such as lighting and ticket gates.

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