The characterization of pyroelectric materials is a necessary stage in the design of a large variety of pyroelectric-based devices ranging from intrusion alarms to IR cameras. The sample configurations and measurement techniques currently in use vary widely and require careful attention in order to avoid artifacts. In this review, we provide a practical guide to the measurement of the pyroelectric coefficient, paying particular attention to the new instrumental possibilities (fast sinusoidally modulated light sources, low impedance broad band current meters, and fast averaging oscilloscopes) that have become available during the last decade. Techniques applicable to bulk specimens, substrate-supported films, and self-supported films are described in detail. The most commonly used procedures are classified according to the type of thermal excitation: continuous ramping, heat pulse, and continuous oscillation. In the appendices, we describe the practical realization of these measurement schemes and provide mathematical descriptions for the extraction of the pyroelectric coefficient from the measured data.
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