Lead Zirconate Titanate Oxide (PbZrxTi1−xO3 or PZT) is a piezoelectric material widely used as sensors and actuators. For microactuators, PZT often appears in the form of thin films to maintain proper aspect ratios. A common design is PZT membrane microactuator, whose actuation portion takes a form of a thin diaphragm driven by a PZT thin film. To maximize actuation displacements, finite element analyses are conducted to identify critical design parameters of the PZT film. In the simulation, a constant driving electric field is maintained and boundary conditions of the PZT film are varied. The finite element analyses lead to two important results. First, the actuator displacement increases as the PZT film thickness increases, but saturates at a critical PZT film thickness. Second, when stress relief grooves are introduced and the PZT film surrounding the membrane area is removed, the actuator displacement increases substantially by at least a factor of 5.

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