Reliable Multilayer Piezo Actuators - Development and Testing

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Piezoelectric multilayer actuators are the driving force behind the most challenging nanopositioning applications.

These types of actuators have been in use for about two decades and have reached maturity several years ago. Continuous improvements are based on long term tests and exact knowledge of the environmental operating conditions and failure modes allows to push the limits of this technology even further.

The paper presents the results of an extensive study involving up to four environmental chambers and more than 1,000 actuator samples to develop a grid of 13 humidity and temperature conditions. Weibull-analysis is used at every condition to determine the DC-voltage dependent lifetime of the co-fired PICMA multilayer actuators. In addition to the (most critical for precision positioning applications) DC tests, behavior under large-signal AC-conditions with up to 1010 cycles for different functions as well as temperature-conditions was also evaluated. Three patented design features of the latest actuator generation are based on the findings.