Investigation of Spray-Coated Silver-Microparticle Electrodes for Ionic Electroactive Polymer Actuators

Date
2014-04-15
Authors
Meis, Catherine
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Altmetrics
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Mechanical Engineering
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Mechanical Engineering
Abstract

Electromechanical electroactive polymer actuators (EAPs) are a class of smart materials that exhibit mechanical response to external electrical stimulus. Certain ionic electroactive polymer actuators (IEAPAs) consist of five layers, two of which are the outer electrodes responsible for providing uniform electric field across the actuator when stimulated. High conductivity of these electrodes is essential in defining the response time and actuation speed of the IEAPA, when their thickness is a limiting factor as it adds to the rigidity of the device. We have employed the easy-to-scale-up method of spray-coating in combination with layer-by-layer self-assembly technique to fabricate IEAPAs with enhanced strain and response time and have compared them to optimized conventional IEAPAs. The results demonstrate that strain of IEAPAs increases with the decrease of thickness of the outer electrodes. In addition, the response time of the actuators at faster frequencies of 1 and 10 Hz improves when compared to optimized conventionally fabricated IEAPA. It was found that samples consisting of spray-coated silver electrodes can charge up to ~3 times faster than conventional actuators at 1 Hz frequency. Faster charging/discharging results in faster actuation. Some applications for these materials include microrobotics, artificial muscles, and sensors.

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