Piezoelectric crystals exhibit an unusual effect—when physically deformed, they generate an electric charge. The reverse is also true, if an electric charge is applied to the crystal, it will change shape slightly.
The piezoelectric effect creates high voltage, but because of the high internal resistance of the crystal it produces very little current. It is possible to formulate the crystal to produce more power, but the result is a crystal that is harder and less flexible. Generally, piezoelectric crystals are impractical for power-hungry electronic devices.
Piezos are used in a wide range of applications, most often as a sensor to detect movement or pressure. Examples include bump sensors in a pinball machines, traffic sensors in a road, vibration sensors, and acceleration detectors.
Because the piezo effect can either generate electricity from motion or motion from electricity, it is also used to make motors and speakers.
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