Piezoelectric Tube Scanners

Piezoelectric tube scanners are thin cylinders of radially poled piezoelectric material with four external electrodes and a continuous internal electrode. When a voltage is applied to one of the external electrodes, the actuator wall expands which causes a vertical contraction and a large lateral deflection of the tube tip. A circumferential electrode can be used for vertical or radial extension and contraction.

Piezoelectric tube scanners are used extensively in scanning probe microscopes and applications such as fibre stretching and beam scanning. Customised dimensions and/or specifications are available on request.

Piezo Tube Scanner


Length Diameter Thickness Electrode
$AU Buy Now
TB1005 10.00 mm 5.0 mm 0.66 mm 1 mm \(\pm\) 264 V 3.8 um 2.1 um 10 kHz 3 nF $AU 74 Buy Now
TB2005 20.00 mm 5.0 mm 0.66 mm 1 mm \(\pm\) 264 V 15 um 4.2 um 6290 Hz 6 nF $AU 130 Buy Now
TB3507 35.00 mm 7.0 mm 0.66 mm 1 mm \(\pm\) 264 V 39 um 7.4 um 2990 Hz 10 nF $AU 209 Buy Now
TB5009 50.8 mm 9.5 mm 0.66 mm 1 mm \(\pm\) 264 V 52 um 10 um 1990 Hz 17 nF $AU 290 Buy Now
TB5509 55.0 mm 9.0 mm 0.6 mm 1 mm \(\pm\) 250 V 66 um 12 um 1600 Hz 17 nF $AU 346 Buy Now
TB6006 60.0 mm 6.0 mm 0.65 mm 1 mm \(\pm\) 260 V 114 um 12 um 865 Hz 12 nF $AU 390 Buy Now
Lateral deflection and vertical  contraction of a four-quadrant piezoelectric tube

When the base of the tube is fixed, the tip translations \(\Delta x\) and \(\Delta y\) are approximately $$ \Delta x = V_x \frac{2 \sqrt{2} d_{31} L^2}{\pi D h} ~~~~~~~ \Delta y = V_y \frac{2 \sqrt{2} d_{31} L^2}{\pi D h}$$ where \(\Delta x\) and \(\Delta y\) are the \(x\) and \(y\) axis deflection, \(d_{31}\) is the piezoelectric strain constant, \(L\) is the length of the tube, \(D\) is the outside diameter, \(h\) is the tube thickness, and \(V_x\) and \(V_y\) are the electrode voltages which are applied oppositely to either side of the tube.

Vertical elongation due to a voltage applied on all four quadrants or the internal electrode is approximately $$ \Delta L = V \times \frac{d_{31} L}{h}.$$

The diameter expansion due to a voltage applied on all four quadrants or the internal electrode is approximately $$ \Delta D = V \times 2 d_{33} $$

The expansion range in the vertical and radial directions can be doubled by driving the internal and external electrodes with opposite voltages.

Driving Piezoelectric Tubes with the TD250 Amplifier

The TD250 is an ultra-low noise, six-channel 250V amplifier optimized for driving piezoelectric tube scanners. Although many configurations are possible, the driven internal electrode configuration shown below is simple and provides the maximum X, Y and Z travel range.

Driving piezoelectric tubes with the TD250-INV

Driving piezoelectric tubes with the TD250

In the driven internal electrode configuration, the X and Y electrodes are driven in the standard way with equal and opposite voltages. By applying the full-scale negative voltage to the internal electrode, a contraction equal to half the vertical scan range is obtained. This method exploits the higher positive electric field strength of the piezoelectric material, which is usually five times the negative electric field strength. Care must be taken not to apply positive voltages to the internal electrode since this can lead to depolarisation.

Deflection and Resonance Frequency Calculator

The following calculator estimates the lateral and vertical travel range of a piezoelectric tube, with the conditions:

  • The driven internal electrode configuration is assumed. That is, only negative voltages are applied to the internal electrode. If the tube is only used for elongation, the reported vertical travel range can be doubled.
  • The “passive length” is an additional structure added to increase the travel range. This length is not included in the calculation of resonance frequency.


The most common mounting configuration is the cantilever arrangement with a fixed base and free end. The base can be bonded directly to an insulating surface with a two part epoxy such as Araldite, or a high viscosity Cyanoacrylate such as Loctite Super Glue Gel. Piezoelectric Tubes can also be bonded to a conductive surface by removing a small amount of electrode as described in “Electrodes” below.


The tubes are supplied with a Nickel thin film electrode. The internal electrode is continuous and the external electrodes are quartered. Electrode area can be removed by etching with dilute Nitric Acid. Custom electrode configurations are available on request.

The  electrode clearance specification is the length of external electrode removed from both ends, which provides electrical clearance to a mounting surface. The internal electrode is continuous.

In applications that require high magnetic fields, the Nickel electrodes can be replaced with Copper or Gold. Copper is an economical choice but Gold provides excellent corrosion resistance and electrical conductivity.

Electrical Current Requirements

Calculate Power Bandwidth

The required current is \( I = C~dV/dt \) where \( I \) is the current, \( C \) is the effective capacitance, and \( dV/dt \) is the voltage rate of change. For a sine-wave, the required peak current is equal to:
$$ I_p = 2 \pi f V_{p-p} $$ where \( V_{p-p} \) is the peak-to-peak voltage. For a triangle wave, the required peak current is equal to: $$ I_p = 2 C f V_{p-p} $$

Connecting Wires

Wires can be attached using conductive epoxy (Circuitworks CW2400) or standard solder and Rosin flux. After flux application, a one second contact with a 300C iron is recommended.

Piezoelectric tubes can also be supplied with attached wires. A number of options are available:

  • 10cm AWG36 wires (-W10)
  • 10cm AWG36 wires connected to a TD250 compatible male panel-mount DSUB9 connector (-DCon)
  • Specified length shielded multi-conductor cable (-CableX, X is the length in cm)

Vacuum Compatibility

Piezoelectric tubes do not contain any outgassing materials and are fully vacuum compatible.

Cryogenic Compatibility

The material PZT-5H works well at cryogenic temperatures. As a guide, the displacement sensitivity is reduced by a factor of 5. However, at cryogenic temperatures, the applied voltage can be increased from +/-250 V to +/-1000 V, which can regain the majority of room temperature deflection but requires a high voltage.

For example, the predicted deflection of the TB5509 tube is 66\(~\mu\text{m}\) with an applied voltage of +/-250 V. At cryogenic temperatures, the displacement will reduce to \( 66~\mu\text{m} \times 0.2 = 13.2~\mu\text{m} \).

However, if the voltage is increased to +/-500 V, the deflection will be approximately \( 66~\mu\text{m} \times 0.2 \times \frac{500}{250} = 26.4~\mu\text{m}\).

If the voltage is increased to +/-1000 V, the displacement will be approximately \( 66 ~\mu\text{m} \times 0.2 \times \frac{1000}{250} = 52.8 ~\mu\text{m} \)

Options / OEM Customization

  • Custom dimensions and thickness
  • Custom electrode configurations
  • Custom wiring arrangements / connectors
  • Mounting platform design and fabrication

Piezoelectric Properties

The piezoelectric material is similar to PZT-5H and Navy Type VI.

Property Symbol Value Unit
Piezoelectric constants d33 600 10-12 m/V
d31 -270 10-12 m/V
g33 19.4 10-3 Vm/N
g31 -9.2 10-3 Vm/N
coupling coefficients
Kp 0.65 NA
Kt 0.37 NA
K31 0.38 NA
Frequency constant Np 1980 Hz-m
Nt 1950 Hz-m
N31 1450 Hz-m
Elastic constant Y33 5.3 1010 N/m2
Y11 7.2 1010 N/m2
Q Factor Qm 80 NA
Dielectric constant e33 ⁄ e0 3500 @1 kHz
Dissipation factor tan δ 2.5 % @ 1 kHz
Currie Temperature Tc 220 C
Density ρ 7.8 g/cm3


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