solutions 1/2007 – Additional informations

The Curie brothers discovered the piezo effect

The term »Piezo« comes from the Greek word for pressure. In 1880, Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered that when pressure is applied to quartz crystals, it generates electric voltage. They called this phenomenon the »piezo effect«. Later, the researchers learned that electrical fields can also shape piezo-electric materials.

In sensor applications, the objective is to generate electric voltage by applying mechanical tension (pressure), for example, on SiO2 crystal material (see graphic). Here, the different loaded silicon and oxygen atoms displace each other to generate an electric charge (right). This can be measured by applying electrodes and, thus, allows the pressure applied to be determined.