Piezoelectric actuators with multi-layer structures have largely gained attention from academic and industry experts. This is due to its distinctive advantages of fast response time, huge generative force and the inherent good planar electromechanical coupling factor, as well as other mechanical qualities. Typically, lead zirconate titanate (PZT) is one of the most represented piezoelectric ceramic materials that have been used for multi-layer piezoelectric actuators. Piezoelectric multi-layered actuators (PMLAs) were developed vigorously in the past decades due to the emergence of portable devices, such as smartphones with a highly compact camera module (CCM) and an image stabilizer (IS). This study reviewed the progress made in the field of PMLA applications, with a particular focus on the miniaturized dimensions and associated generated output force, speed and maximum output power requirement for various loads. Several commercial attempts, such as Helimorph, Lobster and the two-degrees-of-freedom ultrasonic motor (USM), were investigated. The proposed simple bimorph and multi-layer bimorph USMs experimentally showed thrust as high as 3.08 N and 2.57 N with good free speed and structural thicknesses of 0.7 and 0.6 mm, respectively. When compared with the other 14 reported linear USMs, they ranked as the top 1 and 2 in terms of the thrust-to-volume ratio. The proposed design shows great potential for cellphone camera module application, especially in moving sensor image stabilization. This study also provided outlooks for future developments for piezoelectric materials, configurations, fabrication and applications.
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