Getting electricity from squeezed crystals

Energy Daily: A discovery by scientists at the Carnegie Institution has opened the door to a new generation of piezoelectric materials that can convert mechanical strain into electricity and vice versa, potentially cutting costs and boosting performance in myriad applications ranging from medical diagnostics to green energy technologies.

High-performance piezoelectric materials used today, such as those in probes for medical ultrasound, are specially grown crystals of mixed composition known as “solid solutions,” making them difficult to study and expensive to manufacture. But in the January 31 Nature a research team led by Ronald Cohen and Russell Hemley of the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory report that at high pressure pure crystals of lead titanate show the same transitions seen in more complex materials….

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