Piezoelectric Ceramics were ceramics that when zapped by a electric current changed shape. The unusual phenomenon behind this was piezoelectricity.


The story of piezoelectricity started with the pyroelectric effect. The pyroelectric effect, in which electric current depends on temperature, was discovered in the mid-18th century by scientists Carl Linnaeus and Franz Aepinus. Years later, in 1820, two French scientists, René Just Haüy and Antoine César Becquerel, predicted a relationship between electric current and mechanical stress based on their knowledge of pyroelectricity. The direct piezoelectric effect, which is what was described in the previous sentence, was discovered in 1880 by the Curie brothers. One year later, the converse piezoelectric effect was discovered by Gabriel Lippeman and confirmed by the Curies brothers. The first application of piezoelectricity was sonar. During World War I, German U-boats were attacking ships. British scientists created sonar to detect submarines. The success of sonar during World War I allowed for the development of more devices that used piezoelectricity. Then, during World War II, American, Soviet, and Japanese scientists discovered ferro electric materials which combined pyroelectricity and piezoelectricity. Japan was much more successful in that market. This created new sensors. Later, it would revolutionize air travel.


Tech Level: 10-11

Birds were more efficient flyers than airplanes because they had a flexible shape-changing wing. Scientists decided to replicate this wing design for future planes. Scientists at Virginia Tech came up with the idea of using piezoelectric ceramics in flexible wings. The test was a success. By the mid-21st century, this had been scaled up. The trailing edge of the wing was now bending. It was more like a bird than ever before. Piezoelectric ceramics revolutionized other things, too. These included vibration reduction and surgery. It was an innovation for all the world. Piezoelectric ceramics were the first artificial muscle.

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