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Since the formulation of the “Law of Spring”, Ut Pondus sic Tensio by Robert Hooke in 1678, elastic properties of solids have been subject of intensive research in various fields of basic and applied sciences. For example, as the interior of our planet is not directly accessible by experiment, models of the structure of the Earth are mainly based on seismic data. The interpretation of seismic wave propagation and the derivation of equations of state in geosciences require a profound knowledge of the elastic and visco-elastic properties of the constituting mineral phases. All geological materials undergo phase transitions at certain thermodynamical conditions, which can lead to dramatic variations in their elastic properties. Often the influence of the transition extends over a wide temperature and pressure range. Therefore, elasticity serves as a highly sensitive probe for the investigation of structural instabilities related to phase transitions (Carpenter & Salje, 1998). Although most people are not aware, we cannot imagine life today without piezoelectric single crystals and ceramics. Most electronic devices make use of specific interactions between elastic and piezoelectric properties of crystal species like α-quartz and tourmaline. The so-called electromechanical coupling effects allow for conversion of mechanical into electrical energy and vice versa. Examples for technical applications are frequency filters and delay lines in communication technologies, ultrasound generators and clock oscillators. The pure piezoelectric effect is used in pressure sensors in combustion engines and gas turbines.

In view of the importance of elasticity and piezoelectricity it is rather surprising that relatively little is known about these basic physical properties of crystals.

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