Measured Output Voltages of Piezoelectric Devices Depend on the Resistance of Voltmeter

Su, Y.†, Dagdeviren, C.†, Li, R., Advanced Functional Materials, 25(33), 5320–5325, 2015.


Piezoelectric mechanical energy harvester (MEH) has been developed as an important emerging variant of piezoelectric devices. Experiments in the literature show that the voltage–time curves of piezoelectric devices encompass both positive and negative characteristics even though the strain in the piezoelectric material is always positive during the applied cycling load. This does not agree with the results predicted by the piezoelectric theory of open circuit. Here, both the experiments and theory are performed to understand this important problem. A zirconate titanate (PZT) MEH is fabricated and the output voltages are recorded with three voltmeters. It is found that the measured voltages depend on the resistance of voltmeter. The peak value of voltage increases with the increase of the resistance of voltmeter, which is contrary to the established knowledge that the measurement results are independent of the instruments used. A theoretical model considering the voltmeter with finite resistance is established. The charge is allowed to go through the voltmeter and switch the directions during increasing and releasing of strain. The results by this model agree well with those from the experiments. The findings suggest that the resistance of voltmeter should be reported for voltage measurement of the piezoelectric devices.

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