What are piezoelectric ceramics?
With the ability to turn mechanical into electrical energy, piezoelectric ceramics play a vital role in a wide range of devices from vehicle sensors and medical products to consumer products such as cigarette lighters, ultrasonic toothbrushes, and touch screen displays. These materials are commonly made from lead zirconate titanate (PZT), a powder material that generates an electrical charge in response to applied mechanical stress.
To improve the device performance, single layers are combined to form multi-layer piezoelectric ceramics—a complex manufacturing process in which a single defect can reduce the lifetime of the finished product.
Analysis of piezoelectric ceramics with SEM
To ensure the structural integrity of the finished device, researchers must determine whether the internal electrode layer is well connected to the piezoelectric ceramics layer. They must also validate the chemical composition of each layer, while ensuring consistent spacing between layers. Yet because piezoelectric ceramics are non-conductive, this has historically entailed sputter coating every sample before imaging it with a scanning electron microscope (SEM)—increasing sample preparation time.
The Phenom Pure G6 Desktop SEM can observe multi-layer piezoelectric ceramics without sputter coating.
The Thermo Scientific Phenom Pure G6 Desktop SEM improves sample throughput by providing an easier and faster way to analyze piezoelectric ceramics samples. The SEM eliminates the need for sputter coating with a low vacuum sample holder ideal for non-conductive specimens. Moreover, it takes just 30 seconds to acquire an image after loading the sample. With less sample preparation time and faster image acquisition, researchers can speed the overall research and development (R&D) process.
Dekstop SEM for multi-layer analysis
The Phenom Pure G6 Desktop SEM combines high-resolution imaging with extreme ease of use, extending analyses to a broader range of users. And it can be equipped with a fully integrated energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) system that enables researchers to quickly and accurately analyze the chemical composition of their samples.
With the Phenom Pure G6 Desktop SEM, busy research labs obtain an economical solution for validating multi-layer piezoelectric ceramics without the need for sputter coating. The result is a faster research and development process with the accurate analyses manufacturers need to ensure the quality of their finished products.
To learn more, please see our Phenom Pure G6 Desktop SEM datasheet.
Willem van Zyl is an application engineer at Thermo Fisher Scientific.