Ferroelectricity is the phenomenon in which a spontaneous electric polarization occurs in some materials by the application of an external electric field. Ferroelectricity was observed in Rochelle salt by Valasek in 1920 and the term was introduced in analogy to Ferromagnetism which is the magnetic property of some materials. A very good ferroelectric material is Lead Zirconate Titanate crystals used in piezoelements. The combined properties like piezoelectricity, Pyroelectricity and memory make the ferroelectric materials ideal for making sensors.
Piezoelectricity is the accumulation of electric charge in some solid materials such as crystals, ceramics, biological materials like bones, proteins DNA etc. The electrical charge accumulates when these materials are subjected to mechanical stress or heat. The word Piezo electricity was derived from Greek terms Piezein meaning squeeze or press and electric. The piezoelectricity is generated as a result of piezoelectric effect. The Piezoelectric effect is the linear electromechanical interaction between the electrical and mechanical states in the crystalline structure of the material.
Pyroelectricity is the capacity of some materials to generate a voltage when they are subjected to heat or cold. Due to the variation in the temperature, slight changes occur in the position of atoms with in the crystals as a result, the polarization of the crystal changes. This develops a voltage across the crystal. The voltage that develops across the crystal is not stable and when the temperature change remains as such, the voltage ceases due to leakage of current. This may be due to the movement of electrons in the crystals. The term Pyroelectricity was originated from Greek word Pyr meaning fire and the term electricity.