The word “piezo” is derived from the Greek word for pressure. In 1880 Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered that pressure generates electrical charges in a number of crystals such as quartz and tourmaline; they called this phenomenon the “piezoelectric effect”. Later they noticed that electrical fields can deform piezoelectric materials. This effect is called the “inverse piezoelectric effect”. The piezoelectric effect is now used in many everyday products such as lighters, loudspeakers and signal transducers, but also as actuators to create motion.
By applying voltage to a piezoelectric material, you can make it change its shape. Through the clever design of the Piezo LEGS® ceramic actuators, each of the motor “legs” can be elongated as well as bent sideways. With appropriate drive signals, you can create synchronized movement of each pair of its four legs, and it will begin to walk just like an animal would – step by step, and stopping at any instance on a nanometer level. The direct friction coupling between legs and drive rod means Piezo LEGS® will operate without the slightest backlash or mechanical play. The direct drive also gives full force, power-off locking without any power consumption.