Piezoelectric materials characterization is a challenging problem involving physical concepts, electrical and mechanical measurements and numerical optimization techniques. Piezoelectric ceramics such as Lead Zirconate Titanate (PZT) belong to the 6 mm symmetry class, which requires five elastic, three piezoelectric and two dielectric constants to fully represent the material properties. If losses are considered, the material properties can be represented by complex numbers. In this case, 20 independent material constants are required to obtain the full model. Several numerical methods have been used to adjust the theoretical models to the experimental results. The continuous improvement of the computer processing ability has allowed the use of a specific numerical method, the Finite Element Method (FEM), to iteratively solve the problem of finding the piezoelectric constants. This review presents the recent advances in the numerical characterization of 6 mm piezoelectric materials from experimental electrical impedance curves. The basic strategy consists in measuring the electrical impedance curve of a piezoelectric disk, and then combining the Finite Element Method with an iterative algorithm to find a set of material properties that minimizes the difference between the numerical impedance curve and the experimental one. Different methods to validate the results are also discussed. Examples of characterization of some common piezoelectric ceramics are presented to show the practical application of the described methods.
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