Piezoelectric materials exhibit unique properties, where an applied electric field changes the size and shape of the crystal lattice, and a mechanical force will generate an electric potential. Piezoelectricity was discovered in 1880, and has many different applications, ranging from sensors, transducers, and even energy harvesting. However, where piezoelectrics truly excel is in producing very precise actuation, or movement, allowing for microscopic motion down to the nanoscale. They are increasingly being utilized in modern engineering as components get smaller, and piezoelectrics’ relatively small displacements become more relevant. The talk will start with some background on the physics of piezoelectrics, the benefits and limitations of the technology, and then move into modern applications, focusing on piezoelectric actuation, highlighting some of cool things that piezoelectrics can do, and how they can help position the future.
Dr. Ryan Eriksen received his bachelor degree in Physics in 2010, followed by a PhD in Material Science and Engineering in 2015 where he was awarded a Deans Fellowship his first year. His thesis research focused on ceramics and high temperature electrochemistry, including fuel cells, thermoelectrics, and chemical sensors. After he graduated, Ryan started as a postdoc and then a research scientist in the Applied Electromagnetics Lab at Boston University working to develop a device to clean solar panels using electric fields. In 2020, he founded a startup, Sol Clarity, with his co-founder to further commercialize the technology into a product. The company won over $100k in its first few months to fund the work. In 2021, Ryan started consulting at PiezoSystem Jena as their Innovation Manager, and was won over by piezoelectrics, and the wide range of applications.
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