What is Electrostriction?

Electrostriction is a phenomenon in which a material undergoes a change in shape or size when subjected to an electric field. This effect was first observed by French physicist Pierre Curie in 1880 and was later studied by his brother Jacques Curie. Electrostriction is similar to piezoelectricity in that both involve the deformation of a material in response to an electric field. However, electrostriction is a more general phenomenon that occurs in a wider range of materials than piezoelectricity and does not require a crystal structure.

How Does Electrostriction Work?

Electrostriction occurs because the electric field causes a redistribution of charges within a material, which generates an internal stress that leads to a change in shape or size. The magnitude of the deformation depends on the strength of the electric field and the material’s electrostrictive coefficient, which is a measure of how much the material deforms per unit electric field. Electrostrictive materials include ferroelectric materials, polymers, and composites. In ferroelectric materials, electrostriction is closely related to the phenomenon of domain switching, in which the electric field causes the alignment of internal domains of opposite polarization.

Applications of Electrostriction

Electrostriction has a wide range of applications in fields such as sensors, actuators, and energy harvesting. One of the main advantages of electrostriction is that it can produce large deformations with small electric fields, making it useful for applications where high force or displacement is required. Electrostrictive materials can be used to make sensors for measuring pressure, temperature, or force, as well as actuators for controlling mechanical systems. They can also be used to harvest energy from ambient vibrations or pressure fluctuations.

Example of Electrostriction in Action

One example of electrostriction in action is the electrostrictive pump, which is a type of pump that uses an electrostrictive material to generate a pressure wave in a fluid. The pump consists of a tube filled with an electrostrictive material and two electrodes. When an electric field is applied to the electrodes, the material deforms and creates a pressure wave that propels the fluid forward. Electrostrictive pumps have been used in microfluidic systems and drug delivery devices. Another example is the electrostrictive energy harvester, which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy using an electrostrictive material. The harvester can be used to power wireless sensors or other low-power electronic devices.