Table of Contents
ISRN Materials Science
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 921361, 11 pages
Research Article

Finite Element Modeling of a Piezoelectric Composite Beam and Comparative Performance Study of Piezoelectric Materials for Voltage Generation

1Physics Department, Midlands State University, Private Bag 9055, Gweru, Zimbabwe
2Physics Department, University of Botswana, Private Bag 0022, Gaborone, Botswana

Received 27 February 2012; Accepted 8 May 2012

Academic Editors: D. P. de Souza and A. V. Dos Santos

Copyright © 2012 Action Nechibvute et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A comparative study of the traditional PZT ceramics and new single crystals is critical in selecting the best material and optimization of transducer design for applications such as conversion of ambient vibrations into useful electrical energy. However, due to material and fabrication costs and the need for rapid prototyping while optimizing transducer design, primary comparisons can be based on simulation. In this paper, the COMSOL Multiphysics finite element package was used to study the direct piezoelectric effect when an external load is applied at the free end of a piezoelectric composite beam. The primary output parameters such as electric potential and electric field were studied as a function of the input strain and stress. The modeling is presented for the relatively new single crystal lead magnesium niobate-lead titanate (PMN32) and three different lead zirconate titanate ceramics (PZT-5A, PZT-5H, and PZT-4). Material performance was assessed by using a common geometry and identical excitation conditions for the different piezoelectric materials. For each material, there are three analyses performed, namely, static, eigenfrequency, and transient/time-dependent analysis. Comparative results clearly suggest that the new crystal material PMN32 is capable of outperforming presently useing piezoelectric ceramics for voltage generation.