New approach to the excitation of plate waves for piezoelectric thick-film devices

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A method is presented for exciting the propagation of plate waves in elastic guides. It is implemented in a device whose minimum working structure consists of a non-piezoelectric plane guide and two piezoelectric transducers operating as a generator and detector. The device is entirely in accordance with thick-film technology standard procedures. Both transducers are composed of a PZT ferroelectric layer deposited on a ceramic substrate and a suitable system of three coplanar metal electrodes placed inside the same layer. Beside setting the wavelength of propagation, the electrode system promotes piezoelectric deformations parallel to the substrate simultaneously contracting and extending contiguous active regions in the layer. Pure shear stresses are then induced on the involved guide surface, alternately distributed, with the spatial periodicity of the wave that will propagate in the guide. The propagation of several kinds of guided waves is possible so the selection of the one that meets a specific device design best is allowed.

This work describes the design, realization and operation of a prototype structure consisting of an alumina plate guide and two pairs of piezoelectric thick-film transducers realized on it. The results related to the propagation of symmetric and asymmetric Lamb modes are reported. Moreover, the potential of the method is highlighted, emphasizing its effectiveness, easy implementation and application in the development of devices for the sensing and non-destructive testing areas.

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