An investigation of thick PZT films for sensor applications: A case study with different electrode materials

  • Darko Belavič
  • Marko Hrovat
  • Marina Santo Zarnik
  • Janez Holc
  • Marija Kosec


Lead zirconate titanate (PZT) is a piezoelectric material that can sense or respond to mechanical deformations and can be used in ceramic micro-electro-mechanical systems (C-MEMS). A thick-film paste was prepared from a pre-reacted PZT powder (PbZr0.53Ti0.47O3) and thick-film technology (screen-printing and firing) was used to deposit the PZT layers on LTCC tapes and on alumina substrates. The microstructural, electrical and piezoelectric characteristics of the thick PZT films on relatively inert alumina substrates and on LTCC tapes were studied. Preliminary experiments indicated that due to the interaction between the printed PZT layers and the LTCC substrates during firing the electrical characteristics deteriorate significantly. To minimise the influence of substrate-film interactions different electrode materials and the use of additional intermediate layers as a barrier were evaluated. The dielectric permittivities, dielectric losses, and piezoelectric coefficients (d 33) were measured. The dielectric permittivities of the thick films fired on LTCC substrates were lower (210 with gold electrodes and 430 with silver electrodes) than those measured on alumina substrates (500). The piezoelectric coefficients d33 were measured with a Berlincourt piezometer. The d 33 values measured on the LTCC substrates were relatively low (60–80 pC/N) compared with the values obtained for the alumina substrates (around 140 pC/N). The lower dielectric constants and piezoelectric coefficients d 33 of the films on LTCC substrates are attributed to the formation of phases with a lower permittivity. This was a result of the diffusion of SiO2 from the LTCC into the active PZT layer. The diffusion of silica was confirmed by the SEM and EDS analyses.


Thick-film PZT Piezoelectric characteristics Alumina substrate LTCC substrate 



The authors wish to thank Mr. Silvo Drnovsek and Jena Cilensek (Jozef Stefan Institute) for prepare PZT paste and samples for microstructural analyses; and to thank Mr. Mitja Jerlah (HIPOT-RR) for printing and firing the samples. The financial support of the Slovenian Research Agency in the frame of the project L2-9583 and the European Commission’s support of the project MINUET (FP6-505657) and NoE MIND (FP6-515757) are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darko Belavič
    • 1
  • Marko Hrovat
    • 2
  • Marina Santo Zarnik
    • 1
  • Janez Holc
    • 2
  • Marija Kosec
    • 2
  1. 1.HIPOT—R&D d.o.o.SentjernejSlovenia
  2. 2.Jozef Stefan InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia

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