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ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, 60 (2012), nr.

63

Piezoelectric transducer for fluid viscosity measurement


Jana PINTEA1, Alina DUMITRU2, Lucian PSLARU-DNESCU3, Ionel CHIRI4
Abstract
In order to be able to measure the viscosity of Newtonian liquids a piezoelectric transducer having as
piezoelectric ceramic element a lead titanate zirconate with niobium doping, PZT + Nb. The ceramic
piezoelectric element has a disk shape and it vibrates in a width-extensional mode. The resonance frequency of
the piezoelectric transducer is of 56,6MHz. This paper studies the variation of the resonance frequency of the
transducer when it is immersed in different liquids with different densities and viscosities like: water, glycerin
and a mixture of 50%water and 50% glycerin. From the experiments one has observed that the resonance
frequency drops with the increase of the density/viscosity of the liquids. The measurements were done with the
4294A Agilent impedance analyzer. Development a piezoelectric transducer for fluid viscosity measurement
creates the prerequisites of making a device for measuring the fluid viscosity in continuous mode.
Keywords: piezoelectric method, mass and viscosity sensor, quartz crystal, piezoceramic viscosity

1. Introduction
Studies
implying
crystals
with
piezoelectric quartz as sensor have become
known only after the demonstration done by
Sauerbrey [1], which has shown that a
piezoelectric quartz crystal can be used as a
micro balance device. When such a sensor is
introduced into a liquid, his oscillation
frequency is highly influenced by the liquids
properties [2].
The transducers using piezoelectric
crystals vibrating in a thickness-shear mode
are used to measure the properties of the
liquids parameters (the density-viscosity
product). One of the crystals sides is put in
contact with the liquid while the other side is
kept outside. The piezoelectric crystal is
connected to a high frequency voltage
source.
When the working resonance frequency of
the crystal is correctly chosen (serial
resonance), the crystal oscillates in a
thickness-shear mode and in the same time
it radiates both shear and longitudinal waves
inside the liquid on which the measurements
1

Jana PINTEA: Doc. Eng., INCDIE-ICPE-CA, Splaiul Unirii,


nr. 313, RO-030138 Bucureti, Romnia, jana.pintea@icpe-ca.ro
2
Alina DUMITRU: Eng., INCDIE-ICPE-CA, Splaiul Unirii, nr.
313, RO-030138 Bucureti, Romnia, alina.dumitru@icpe-ca.ro
3
Lucian PSLARU-DNESCU: Doc. Eng., INCDIE-ICPE-CA,
Splaiul Unirii, nr. 313, RO-030138 Bucureti, Romnia,
lucian.pislaru@icpe-ca.ro
4
Ionel CHIRI: Doc. Eng., INCDIE-ICPE-CA, Splaiul Unirii,
nr. 313, RO-030138 Bucureti, Romnia, ionel.chirita@icpe-ca.ro

are being made [3].


Whenever
longitudinal
waves
are
transmitted in the liquid, the mass of the
liquid becomes a mass, oscillating in the
same time with the crystal [4]. It was
observed that if the density and the viscosity
of the liquid grow so does the electric charge
of the liquid, while the oscillating frequency of
the piezoelectric crystal decreases [5, 6].
Another decrease of the resonance
frequency, compared to the undisturbed
frequency of the piezoelectric crystal (in a dry
environment), takes place at the contact
surface between the liquid and the crystal.
The following equation, provided by
Kanazawa and Gordon [7], shoes that the
difference in frequency (f) in contact with
the Newtonian liquid is:


f = f 03 / 2

q q

1/ 2

(1)

where f0 is the fundamental frequency of the


piezoelectric sensor, and represent the
viscosity and the liquid density respectively,
q and q are the elastic modulus and the
piezoelectric quartz density.
From (1) one observes that the resonance
frequency of the piezoelectric transducer in
contact with the liquid decreases with an
increase of the term () 1/2. This
connection was remarked by many
researchers [8, 9].

64

ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, 60 (2012), nr. 3

During last years, many studies regarding


devices for viscosity measurement using
piezoelectric materials have been done. The
idea started from the detection of the
resonance frequency changes and/or of the
height of the resonance peaks inside the
liquid and also from the determination of the
liquid viscosity [10].
Recently, a significant number of
piezoelectric devices based on lead titanate
zirconate (PZT) have been designed with the
purpose of detecting the changes of the
resonance frequency and consequently of
the liquid viscosity. The piezoelectric sensors
for viscosity measurement, such as the
quartz based sensors, SAW resonance
devices [11] or Love waves [12], are based
on the thickness-shear vibration mode. The
working frequency of the piezoelectric PZT
based devices can vary from a few MHz up
to hundreds of MHz [11].
In this paper, we have realized a
piezoelectric transducer for which a PZT+Nb
piezoelectric ceramic element was used. The
ceramic element has the shape of a disk
whose piezoelectric properties are previously
known. We have used the thickness vibration
functioning mode of the piezoelectric ceramic
element and for the liquids viscosity
measurement
we
have
used
the
compression waves inside the liquid.
The compression waves are generated by
the displacement of the plane surface of the
piezoceramic element on the liquids surface.
Between the piezoceramic element and the
liquid, an epoxy resin was placed in order to
transmit
ultrasounds
for
mechanical
protection. In order to emphasize and
illustrate the resonance frequency decrease
with the increase of the liquids density and
of the liquids viscosity respectively. We have
used the Agilent 4294A impedance analyzer.
2. Experiments and methodology
For the design of the piezoelectric
transducer we have used as active element a
PZT piezoelectric ceramic disk doped with
Nb. The disks diameter is of 20mm while the
width is 1mm. On each of the ceramic disks
sides, silver electrodes were attached and
one of the sides was glued to another disk
made of copper with 29 mm diameter size.
The ceramic element was introduced into a
stainless steel housing that does not
influence the properties of the piezoelectric
element. Inside the housing, the copper side

is positioned towards the liquid but separated


from the liquid by means of a epoxy resin.
The position of the piezo-ceramic element is
horizontal with respect to the liquid in which it
is to be immersed (Figure 1.).

Figure 1. Measurement procedure for the


piezoelectric transducer.

The immersing depth of the transducer


was of 2-3 mm. The experiments and
measurements were done by using water,
glycerin and a mixture of (50 %) water and
(50 %) glycerin. The distance between the
piezoelectric transducer and the opposite
reflection wall is of maximum 20 mm. All the
experiments
took
place
at
normal
temperature (20 C).
3. Rezults and discussions
At the beginning, the transducer
properties in the air were established,
namely the resonance frequency and the
electric
admittance.
The
resonance
frequency of the piezoelectric transducer
resulted in 56,7MHz, while the electric
admittance was determined as 1.4S. These
characteristics were determined with an
Agilent 4294A impedance analyzer. In the
second step the piezoelectric transducer was
introduced first in water, then into the 50%
water and 50% glycerin mixture and in the
end only in glycerin. It is important to mention
that in all three cases, the transducer had the
contact surface parallel with the liquid. The
results obtained by immersing the transducer
in water and glycerin are shown in fig. 2
bellow.
From fig. 2 one can observe that the
resonance frequency of the transducer
immersed into the above mentioned liquids
decreases with the increase of the liquids
density and also to the increase of its
viscosity and density respectively. This result
respects the equation (1), but once the
frequency decreases, the signals amplitude
and its electric admittance decrease too,

ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, 60 (2012), nr. 3

which means that the electric impedance of


the immersed transducer increases with the
increase of the liquids viscosity.
1.4

aer
50% apa+50% glicerina
glicerina
apa

1.2

Admitanta Y[S]

1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0.0
35000

40000

45000

50000

55000

60000

65000

70000

Frecventa [kHz]

Figure 2. Admittance response with the transducers


frequency in air, water, water-glycerin
mixture and glycerin respectively.

The difference between the resonance


frequency of the transducer measured when
placed in the air, and the one when it is
placed inside the considered liquid, grows on
a proportional way with ()1/2, result also
confirmed by formula (1). The resonance
frequency when the immersing liquid is the
water, is of 50.6 MHz, while for the waterglycerin mixture is 45.1MHz and in the case
of pure glycerin the frequency is 42.4 MHz.
The differences between the resonance
frequency of the transducer placed in the air
and
the
other
three
frequencies
corresponding to the working liquids are the
following: 6.1 MHz for the water, 11.6MHz for
the glycerin-water mixture and14.3MHz for
the glycerin.
According to formula (1) it can be
observed
that
the
three
frequency
differences decay with the increase if the
term ()1/2, therefore our result respect the
theory. The strongest effect on the
resonance frequency variation is produced
by the mass movements that act like an
electric charge on the transducers surface.
The values for the electric admittance are the
following: 0.639 S for the water, 0.637 S for
the water-glycerin mixture and 0.622 S for
the glycerin.
5. Conclusions
In this paper we have studied the
influence of the resonance frequency of a
piezoelectric transducer made a PZT
piezoceramic element doped with Nb that
operates on the thickness vibration mode,
the immersion liquid densities it in different

65

viscosities respectively. The characterization


method used involves impedance analysis.
The measurements for the resonance
frequency and of the electric admittance
respectively by means of impedance analysis
have the advantage that it allows obtaining
information upon the chemical parameters of
the liquids and on the viscosity-density
product respectively. It was observed that the
resonance frequency of the transducer
immersed in different liquids decreases with
the increase of the term ()1/2, which is
particular for each liquid. With such a
piezoelectric transducer one can detect small
viscosities/densities of the fluids.
Acknowledgments
The research that conducted to the results
presented in this paperwork was supported
by the core contract INCDIE ICPE-CA
Bucharest, Romania
References
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von Schwingquarzen zur Wgung dnner


Schichten und zur Mikrowgung, n
Zeitschrift fr Physik vol. 155, no. 2, pp.
206222, 1959.

[2] YAO, SZ., ZHUO, TA., Dependance of the


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SHAY,
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Biography
Jana PINTEA was born in
th
Pochidia, Romania, on October 5 ,
1957. He graduated at 1982 and
he received Ph. D. degrees in
electrical engineering from the
University POLITEHNICA of
Bucharest,in 2007. His employment experience
included the National Institute for Research and
Development in Electrical Engineering ICPE-CA,
Dep. of Materials, Magnetic and Nanostructured
Materials group. The research goals include:
development a lot of composites materials type of
PZT for piezoelectric actuators and piezoelectric
sensors. Project expertise included also research of
characterization materials, measurements of
materials used of the electromagnetic shields.

Alina Iulia DUMITRU - was born in


th
Bucharest, Romania, on April 10 ,
1969. He graduated at 1994 and he
received Master degrees in 1995
from the University POLITEHNICA of
Bucharest, Faculty of Industrial
Chemistry, Department Science and Engineering of
Oxide Materials. His employment experience
included the National Institute for Research and
Development in Electrical Engineering ICPE-CA,
Dept. of Materials. The research goals include:
development a lot of composites materials type of
PZT and modified PZT for piezoelectric actuators
and piezoelectric sensors. Project expertise
included also experiments and characterization of
piezoceramic materials.
Lucian PSLARU-DNESCU - was
born in Timisoara, Romania, on
th
March 14 , 1960. He graduated at
1985 and he received Ph. D.
degrees in electrical engineering
from the University POLITEHNICA
of Bucharest, in 2005.
His employment experience included the National
Institute for Research and Development in
Electrical Engineering ICPE-CA, Department of
Electrical Micromachines and Department of
Energy Conversion and Consumption Eficiency,
Research.
The
research
goals
include:
development a lot of models and prototypes for
electromagnetic, piezoelectric and magnetostrictive
actuators; electronic specific sources for actuators
and the signal conditioning for sensors. In the last
time, his fields of interest include electronic parts for
quench protection and electromagnetic field
computation regarding the superconductivity
applications.
Ionel CHIRI was born in
Bucharest (Romania), on September
17, 1960. He graduated the
Polytechnic University, Faculty of
Mechanical
Engineering
in
Bucharest (Romania), in 1985. He
received the PhD degree in electrical
engineering from the Civil Engineering University of
Bucharest (Romania), in 2003. He is Technological
Development Engineer at National Institute for R&D
in Electrical Engineering ICPE-CA, in Bucharest
(Romania). His research interests concern:
miniature electric machines, magnets for particle
accelerators, robotics and electro - hydro pneumatic actuators.