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Electricty Generating Dance Floors and Other Miracles of Piezoelectricity

Piezoelectricity—the charge that gathers in solid materials in response to strain—has piqued the interest of entrepreneurs and scientists alike.


Even if the planet doubled the amount of solar and wind power available tomorrow, there would still be a shortage of clean electricity. We need to grab energy from wherever we can find it, which is why piezoelectricity—the charge that gathers in solid materials like crystal and ceramic in response to strain—has recently begun to pique the interest of entrepreneurs and scientists alike.

A number of materials are piezoelectric, including topaz, quartz, cane sugar, and tourmaline. That means a charge begins accumulating inside these materials when pressure is applied. Piezoelectrics are already commonly used in a number of applications. Quartz clocks, for example, rely on piezoelectricity for power, as do many sensors, lighters, and actuators. But these are the old uses for piezoelectricity. Scientists today have much more interesting piezoelectric plans in mind.

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