Piezoelectric actuators have achieved remarkable progress in many fields, being able to generate forces or displacements to perform scanning, tuning, manipulating, tactile sensing or delivering functions. In this work, two piezoelectric PZT (lead zirconate titanate) bimorph actuators, with different tip contact materials, were applied as tactile sensors to estimate the modulus of elasticity, or Young’s modulus, of low-stiffness materials. The actuators were chosen to work in resonance, taking advantage of a relatively low resonant frequency of the out-of-plane vibrational modes, associated with a convenient compliance, proven by optical and electrical characterization. Optical measurements performed with a scanning laser vibrometer confirmed that the displacement per applied voltage was around 437 nm/V for the resonator with the lower mass tip. In order to determine the modulus of elasticity of the sensed materials, the stiffness coefficient of the resonator was first calibrated against a force sensor, obtaining a value of 1565 ± 138 N/m. The actuators were mounted in a positioning stage to allow approximation and contact of the sensor tip with a set of target materials. Electrical measurements were performed using the resonator as part of an oscillator circuit, and the modulus of elasticity of the sample was derived from the contact resonant frequency curve of the cantilever–sample system. The resulting sensor is an effective, low-cost and non-destructive solution compared to atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques. Materials with different modulus of elasticity were tested and the results compared to values reported in the literature.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited