Hard piezoelectrics with high dielectric and piezoelectric constants are used for high-power applications. However, the sintering temperature of these ceramics is high, around 1200°C, restricting the usage of cheap base metal electrodes in fabrication of multi-layer components. This study investigates the effect of CuO and ZnO on the sintering temperature of a hard piezoelectric, APC 841, which is a MnO2- and Nb2O5-modified PZT. The addition of CuO decreased the sintering temperature through the formation of a liquid phase. However, the piezoelectric properties of the CuO-added ceramics sintered at ≤950°C were lower than the desired values. The addition of ZnO resulted in a significant improvement in the piezoelectric properties. This enhancement was attributed to the formation of a homogeneous microstructure with large grains. The APC 841+0.2 wt% CuO+1.1 wt% ZnO ceramics sintered at 950°C showed excellent piezoelectric and dielectric properties with values of kp=0.532, Qm=750, d33=351 pC/N, ɛ33/ɛo=1337, and Tc=280°C.
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