Artificial bees from a pressure cooker?

What if we could create artificial bees that helped us with food production? Ola Gjønnes Grendal cooks up the materials needed to do just this.

Some piezoelectric materials may be 'fakes'

Piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) is the most widespread technique for characterising piezoelectric properties at the nanoscale, i.e., for determining the ability of some materials to generate electricity when subjected ...

Device harvests energy from low-frequency vibrations

A wearable energy-harvesting device could generate energy from the swing of an arm while walking or jogging, according to a team of researchers from Penn State's Materials Research Institute and the University of Utah. The ...

When roots crack and worms crunch

Roots can be "listened to" while growing – and worms when burrowing. Researchers from ETH Zurich and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research present a new method for soil analysis.

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Piezoelectricity

Piezoelectricity ( /piˌeɪzoʊˌilɛkˈtrɪsɪti/) is the charge which accumulates in certain solid materials (notably crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure. It is derived from the Greek piezo or piezein (πιέζειν), which means to squeeze or press, and electric or electron (ήλεκτρον), which stands for amber, an ancient source of electric charge. Piezoelectricity is the direct result of the piezoelectric effect.

The piezoelectric effect is understood as the linear electromechanical interaction between the mechanical and the electrical state in crystalline materials with no inversion symmetry. The piezoelectric effect is a reversible process in that materials exhibiting the direct piezoelectric effect (the internal generation of electrical charge resulting from an applied mechanical force) also exhibit the reverse piezoelectric effect (the internal generation of a mechanical strain resulting from an applied electrical field). For example, lead zirconate titanate crystals will generate measurable piezoelectricity when their static structure is deformed by about 0.1% of the original dimension. Conversely, those same crystals will change about 0.1% of their static dimension when an external electric field is applied to the material.

Piezoelectricity is found in useful applications such as the production and detection of sound, generation of high voltages, electronic frequency generation, microbalances, and ultrafine focusing of optical assemblies. It is also the basis of a number of scientific instrumental techniques with atomic resolution, the scanning probe microscopies such as STM, AFM, MTA, SNOM, etc., and everyday uses such as acting as the ignition source for cigarette lighters and push-start propane barbecues.

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