A NEW LEAD-FREE MATERIAL: PZT, which stands for lead zirconate titanate, is a very popular material for use in the advanced sensors and capacitors needed for electronics. Researchers recently developed a lead-free alternative, bismuth samarium ferrite, which could potentially be used in everything from airbag sensors to inkjet printers to medical imaging devices. Replacing lead components of devices could keep lead out of landfills and the greater ecosystem.
WHAT DOES PIEZOELECTRIC MEAN? Piezoelectric materials are very useful in a variety of situations. Essentially, a material is called piezoelectric if it generates electricity when it is twisted, changes shape, or is otherwise exposed to mechanical stress. Materials with this property were first used in sonar systems to detect submarines underwater. Sound waves bend the piezoelectric material, creating a changing electric voltage. Today piezoelectric components can be found in microphones, in filters for radio and television, in the cigarette lighters in cars, and even as car sensors that can tell the driver how far away the rear end of the vehicle is from any objects in its path.
The Materials Research Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA, AVS, the Science and Technology Society and the Optical Society of America, contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
This report has also been produced thanks to a generous grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.