piezoelectric effect

the property exhibited by some nonconducting crystals of becoming electrically polarized when mechanically strained and of becoming mechanically strained when an electric field is applied.
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World English Dictionary
piezoelectric effect or piezoelectricity (paɪˌiːzəʊɪlɛkˈtrɪsɪtɪ)
 a.  the production of electricity or electric polarity by applying a mechanical stress to certain crystals
 b.  the converse effect in which stress is produced in a crystal as a result of an applied potential difference
piezoelectricity or piezoelectricity
piezoe'lectrically or piezoelectricity

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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
piezoelectric effect   (pī-ē'zō-ĭ-lěk'trĭk)  Pronunciation Key 
The generation of an electric charge in certain nonconducting materials, such as quartz crystals and ceramics, when they are subjected to mechanical stress (such as pressure or vibration), or the generation of vibrations in such materials when they are subjected to an electric field. Piezoelectric materials exposed to a fairly constant electric field tend to vibrate at a precise frequency with very little variation, making them useful as time-keeping devices in electronic clocks, as used in wristwatches and computers.
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Example sentences
It takes advantage of the piezoelectric effect: certain materials, when squeezed, develop a charge and produce electricity.
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