Piezo means pressure, so piezoelectric means that pressure is generated when electrical energy is applied to a quartz crystal. When electrical energy is applied to the face of the crystal, the shape of the crystal changes as a function of the polarity of the applied electrical energy. As the crystal expands and contracts it produces compressions and rarefactions, and creates sound waves. When this material is struck by sound waves it creates electrical currents.|
Thus, a piezoelectric crystal can produce a pulse of mechanical energy (pressure pulse) by electrically exciting the crystal (transmitter), and they can produce a pulse of electrical energy by mechanically exciting the crystal (receiver).
This ultrasound physics principle is called the piezoelectric effect (pressure electricity), which was discovered by Pierre and Jacques Curie in 1880, and is used to generate ultrasound waves. Instead of quartz crystals, piezoelectric ceramics such as barium titanate or lead zirconate titanate are also used, which are crystalline materials with similar piezoelectric properties.
See also Temporal Peak Intensity.
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