Piezoelectric thin films for sensors, actuators, and energy harvesting

P. Muralt, R. G. Polcawich, S. Trolier-McKinstry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

294 Scopus citations


Piezoelectric microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) offer the opportunity for highsensitivity sensors and large displacement, low-voltage actuators. In particular, recent advances in the deposition of perovskite thin films point to a generation of MEMS devices capable of large displacements at complementary metal oxide semiconductorcompatible voltage levels. Moreover, if the devices are mounted in mechanically noisy environments, they also can be used for energy harvesting. Key to all of these applications is the ability to obtain high piezoelectric coefficients and retain these coefficients throughout the microfabrication process. This article will review the impact of composition, orientation, and microstructure on the piezoelectric properties of perovskite thin films such as PbZr1-xTixO3 (PZT). Superior piezoelectric coefficients (e31,f of -18 C/m2) are achieved in {001}-oriented PbZr0.52Ti048O3 films with improved compositional homogeneity on Si substrates. The advent of such high piezoelectric responses in films opens up a wide variety of possible applications. A few examples of these, including low-voltage radio frequency MEMS switches and resonators, actuators for millimeter-scale robotics, droplet ejectors, energy scavengers for unattended sensors, and medical imaging transducers, will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-664
Number of pages7
JournalMRS Bulletin
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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