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A microscope to measure accurately the piezoelectric properties of materials

A technical device invented by scientists at the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Barcelona (ICMAB) can measure piezoelectricity directly. The new microscope achieves an accurate characterisation of piezoelectric materials, enhancing the predictions of its performance in real device.

Andrés Gómez in the lab. Image: ICMAB.Currently, several research and technology centres in the field of electronics make characterisations with the team of the CSIC institute and the industries of the sector are beginning to request the service.

Piezoelectricity is a phenomenon that happens in some materials, which have the property to transform mechanical energy into electric energy. It is the ability of materials to generate clean energy. Piezoelectric materials have multiple applications in the electronics and modern technologies, such as condensers, echography scans, micro-scales, welding defect scanner, sonar, ultrasonic-based medical treatments, ABS systems or fuel level meters.

Piezoelectricity is the ability of the materials to generate clean energy

The ICMAB has developed a microscope that aims for a direct measure of the phenomenon (DPFM). The device improves the most common microscope used nowadays for measuring piezoelectricity, called Piezo Response Microscope (PFM), which does not allow direct measurement.

“The Atomic Forces microscope is a candidate to be the definitive equipment for the characterization of physical properties in the materials due to its versatility”, says Andrés Gómez, one of the inventors of the device. He adds that the DPFM is a “quantitative method for the characterisation of piezoelectric and ferroelectric materials, which was not possible until now”.