The initial concept of a piezoelectric transformer (PT) was proposed by C.A. Rosen, K. Fish, and H.C. Rothenberg and is described in the U.S. Patent 2,830,274, applied for in 1954. Fifty years later, this technology has become one of the most promising alternatives for replacing the magnetic transformers in a wide range of applications. Piezoelectric transformers convert electrical energy into electrical energy by using acoustic energy. These devices are typically manufactured using piezoelectric ceramic materials that vibrate in resonance. With appropriate designs it is possible to step-up and step-down the voltage between the input and output of the piezoelectric transformer, without making use of wires or any magnetic materials.
This technology did not reach commercial success until early the 90s. During this period, several companies, mainly in Japan, decided to introduce PTs for applications requiring small size, high step-up voltages, and low electromagnetic interference (EMI) signature. These PTs were developed based on optimizations of the initial Rosen concept, and thus typically referred to as “Rosen-type PTs”. Today's, PTs are used for backlighting LCD displays in notebook computers, PDAs, and other handheld devices. The PT yearly sales estimate was about over 20 millions in 2000 and industry sources report that production of piezoelectric transformers in Japan is growing steadily at a rate of 10% annually. The reliability achieved in LCD applications and the advances in the related technologies (materials, driving circuitry, housing and manufacturing) have currently spurred enormous interest and confidence in expanding this technology to other fields of application. This, consequently, is expanding the business opportunities for PTs.