Piezoelectric actuation is widely used for the active vibration control of smart structural systems, and corresponding research has largely focused on linear electromechanical devices. This paper investigates the design and analysis of a novel piezoelectric actuator that uses a piezoelectric cantilever beam with a loading spring to produce displacement outputs. This device has a special nonlinear property relating to converting between kinetic energy and potential energy, and it can be used to increase the output displacement at a lower voltage. The system is analytically modeled with Lagrangian functional and Euler–Lagrange equations, numerically simulated with MATLAB, and experimentally realized to demonstrate its enhanced capabilities. The model is validated using an experimental device with several pretensions of the loading spring, therein representing three interesting cases: a linear system, a low natural frequency system with a pre-buckled beam, and a system with a buckled beam. The motivating hypothesis for the current work is that nonlinear phenomena could be exploited to improve the effectiveness of the piezoelectric actuator’s displacement output. The most practical configuration seems to be the pre-buckled case, in which the proposed system has a low natural frequency, a high tip displacement, and a stable balanced position.
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