Inert ceramic materials have already proved their usefulness as implants in the field of medical engineering. There are now many applications for active components supplied in the form of piezo-ceramic sensors, actuators and motors. Examples include micro-pumps, ultrasonic generators or valves for precision metering. In addition piezo-systems are used in bio-technology and microscopy for focus adjustment, sample positioning and manipulation.
Complete drive systems based on piezoceramic actuators are available in a range of different configurations. Although the designs can be very different, the piezo-drives show a range of common characteristics; they are fast and compact, they are self-regulating, they require no electrical holding current, and they can easily be made vacuum-compatible and non-magnetic. The size and power, as well as the travel range and position resolution achievable depend on the mechanics and encoding used in the application. Dynamic scanners for image capture and tiny battery-operated drives measuring less than 9 mm in length appropriate for handheld or wearable devices are equally possible. The control electronics required are also compact and can be easily integrated.