Piezocrystals, especially the relaxor-based ferroelectric crystals, have been subject to intense investigation and development within the past three decades, motivated by the performance advantages offered by their ultrahigh piezoelectric coefficients and higher electromechanical coupling coefficients than piezoceramics. Structural anisotropy of piezocrystals also provides opportunities for devices to operate in novel vibration modes, such as the d36
face shear mode, with domain engineering and special crystal cuts. These piezocrystal characteristics contribute to their potential usage in a wide range of low- and high-power ultrasound applications. In such applications, conventional piezoelectric materials are presently subject to varying mechanical stress/pressure, temperature and electric field conditions. However, as observed previously, piezocrystal properties are significantly affected by a single such condition or a combination of conditions. Laboratory characterisation of the piezocrystal properties under these conditions is therefore essential to fully understand these materials and to allow electroacoustic transducer design in realistic scenarios. This will help to establish the extent to which these high performance piezocrystals can replace conventional piezoceramics in demanding applications. However, such characterisation requires specific experimental arrangements, examples of which are reported here, along with relevant results. The measurements include high frequency-resolution impedance spectroscopy with the piezocrystal material under mechanical stress 0–60 MPa, temperature 20–200 °C, high electric AC drive and DC bias. A laser Doppler vibrometer and infrared thermal camera are also integrated into the measurement system for vibration mode shape scanning and thermal conditioning with high AC drive. Three generations of piezocrystal have been tested: (I) binary, PMN-PT; (II) ternary, PIN-PMN-PT; and (III) doped ternary, Mn:PIN-PMN-PT. Utilising resonant mode analysis, variations in elastic, dielectric and piezoelectric constants and coupling coefficients have been analysed, and tests with thermal conditioning have been carried out to assess the stability of the piezocrystals under high power conditions.
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