Hand-generated piezoelectric mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion plasma

Olivia K. Jaenicke, Federico G. Hita Martínez, Jinyu Yang, Seong Kyun Im, David B. Go

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


A transient spark discharge is an atmospheric pressure plasma that has applications in pollutant removal, medicine, water treatment, agriculture, bactericides, and nanomaterial synthesis. Conventional methods of generating transient sparks at atmospheric pressure usually require a high voltage input at nanosecond pulses. Piezoelectric crystals offer a path to creating plasma devices that do not require a high voltage power supply to generate high voltage outputs; they directly transform mechanical energy into electrical energy. This work examines a manually-operated piezoelectric mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion plasma device. Electrical characterization of the plasma discharge generated by this device shows that it behaves as a transient spark, discharging 0.96 mJ over approximately 30 ns, with consistent behavior across multiple consecutive discharges. Although this specific device had a low mechanical-to-plasma energy conversion efficiency of 1.54%, the piezoelectric crystal resets to an equilibrium condition after approximately 8 μs, which suggests that it could be operated with a mechanical input of up to nearly 125 kHz. This work shows the potential of generating plasma in off-the-grid situations using piezoelectric crystals. One particular application of a piezoelectric plasma device is for in situ pollution mitigation or plasma-enhanced combustion, embedding such a device on the high-frequency oscillating or rotating components of internal combustion engines and turbomachinery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number093901
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Aug 31

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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