Flexural piezoelectric transducers with frequency agility obtained via membrane loads

Chad A. Hébert, George A. Lesieutre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Broadband transducers find uses in many applications. One approach to increasing the bandwidth of a flexural transducer is to add damping to the device, usually decreasing its sensitivity in the process. An alternative approach, useful in some applications, involves active tuning of the natural frequency of a high-sensitivity narrowband device. In this research, membrane loads were used to alter the natural frequencies and electro-mechanical coupling coefficients of three-layer (trilaminar) piezoelectric ceramic transducers. A coupling coefficient is a measure of the effectiveness with which a piezoelectric material or device converts electrical energy to mechanical energy or vice versa. Applying in-plane loads increased the effectiveness of the transducers by increasing their operating frequency range, while maintaining high coupling coefficients. Two types of trilaminar flexural piezoceramic transducers were studied: beams and disks. The measured electrical impedance of individual devices was used to determine short- and open-circuit natural frequencies, and then coupling coefficients. In addition, finite element models were developed and used to predict the same quantities. Rotational springs were used in these models to account for non-ideal experimental boundary conditions, while reduction of the piezoelectric material coupling accounted for loss of performance due to stress depoling and aging. Good agreement between experimental data and theory was obtained. Significant changes in natural frequencies, as well as increases in coupling coefficients were obtained for both beam and disk transducers. Experiments with the trilaminar piezoceramic beams yielded a 36% change in frequency, with an accompanying 38% increase in coupling coefficient. Experiments with the disks yielded a change in frequency of 13%, and an increase in coupling coefficient of 15%. These results demonstrated the feasibility of using membrane loads to improve the frequency-agility of flexural piezoceramic transducers. Candidate applications include acoustic transducers and pneumatic valves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1030-1037
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanical Engineering


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