Radiations is a weekly electronic newsletter published by the Physics and Astronomy Department of Carleton College. The deadline for materials to be included in Radiations is 7:30 AM Monday of the week you would like the information to appear. Contact tfields@carleton.edu if you want to be added or removed from this mailing list.

Volume 15, Issue 21 (March 30, 2009)

Elliot Bartis Comps Talk

March 27, 2009

Using Heat: The Physics and Applications of Pyroelectricity


Pyroelectricity is the electrical response of a material to a change in temperature. This phenomenon occurs in noncentrosymmetric inorganic and organic crystals that possess a spontaneous dipole moment in the absence of an external electric field. There are many materials that exhibit the pyroelectric effect, but not all of these are useful in industrial applications. Aside from the physics and history of the pyroelectric effect, I will focus on the application of these types of materials to thermal imaging, microcalorimetry, and photopyroelectric spectroscopy.