, Volume 85, Issue 2, pp 125-134
Date: 01 Sep 2006

Review of some lesser-known applications of piezoelectric and pyroelectric polymers

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Abstract

The piezoelectric effect was first observed in polyvinylidene fluoride polymer (PVDF) in 1969, and the pyroelectric effect was found several years later. A number of additional ferroelectric polymers have been discovered since that time including the copolymer PVDF with trifluoroethylene (P(VDF-TrFE)), and the odd-numbered nylons. A large number of applications of piezoelectricity and pyroelectricity have been developed. The magnitudes of the effects in polymers are much lower than those of ferroelectric ceramics (an exception is the piezoelectric effect in porous polymers). However, other factors make these very desirable materials for applications. The polymers have low permittivities, low acoustic impedances and low thermal conductivities. They are available in large area sheets, flexible, and relatively low in cost. Major applications include microphones and loudspeakers, ultrasonic devices, SAW transducers, actuators, single-element infrared detectors and many others. This review will describe some of the lesser-known applications of these materials in the areas of tactile devices, energy conversion, porous polymers, property measurement, pyroelectric infrared sensors, shock sensors and space science.