Hall, D.A. Journal of Materials Science (2001) 36: 4575. doi:10.1023/A:1017959111402
The paper presents an overview of experimental evidence and present understanding of nonlinear dielectric, elastic and piezoelectric relationships in piezoelectric ceramics. This topic has gained an increasing recognition in recent years due to the use of such materials under extreme operating conditions, for example in electromechanical actuators and high power acoustic transducers. Linear behaviour is generally confined to relatively low levels of applied electric field and stress, under which the dielectric, elastic and piezoelectric relationships are described well by the standard piezoelectric constitutive equations. Nonlinear relationships are observed above certain ‘threshold’ values of electric field strength and mechanical stress, giving rise to field and stress-dependent dielectric (ε), elastic (s) and piezoelectric (d) coefficients. Eventually, strong hysteresis and saturation become evident above the coercive field/stress due to ferroelectric/ferroelastic domain switching. The thermodynamic method provides one approach to describing nonlinear behaviour in the ‘intermediate’ field region, prior to large scale domain switching, by extending the piezoelectric constitutive equations to include nonlinear terms. However, this method seems to fail in its prediction of the amplitude and phase of high frequency harmonic components in the field-induced polarisation and strain waveforms, which arise directly from the nonlinear dielectric and piezoelectric relationships. A better fit to experimental data is given by the empirical Rayleigh relations, which were first developed to describe nonlinear behaviour in soft magnetic materials. This approach also provides an indication of the origins of nonlinearity in piezoelectric ceramics, in terms of ferroelectric domain wall translation (at intermediate field/stress levels) and domain switching (at high field/stress levels). The analogy with magnetic behaviour is also reflected in the use of Preisach-type models, which have been successfully employed to describe the hysteretic path-dependent strain-field relationships in piezoelectric actuators. The relative merits and limitations of the different modelling methods are compared and possible areas of application are identified.