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4 April 2007 Manufacturing of ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMCs) that can actuate into complex curves
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Ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMC) are soft actuators with potential applications in the fields of medicine and biologically inspired robotics. Typically, an IPMC bends with approximately constant curvature when voltage is applied to it. More complex shapes were achieved in the past by pre-shaping the actuator or by segmentation and separate actuation of each segment. There are many applications for which fully independent control of each segment of the IPMC is not required and the use of external wiring is objectionable. In this paper we propose two key elements needed to create an IPMC, which can actuate into a complex curve. The first is a connection between adjacent segments, which enables opposite curvature. This can be achieved by reversing the polarity applied on each side of the IPMC, for example by a through-hole connection. The second key element is a variable curvature segment. The segment is designed to bend with any fraction of its full bending ability under given electrical input by changing the overlap of opposite charge electrodes. We demonstrated the usefulness of these key elements in two devices. One is a bi-stable buckled IPMC beam, also used as a building block in a linear actuator device. The other one is an IPMC, actuating into an S-shaped curve with gradually increasing curvature near the ends. The proposed method of manufacturing holds promise for a wide range of new applications of IPMCs, including applications in which IPMCs are used for sensing.
© (2007) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Boyko L. Stoimenov, Jonathan M. Rossiter, and Toshiharu Mukai "Manufacturing of ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMCs) that can actuate into complex curves", Proc. SPIE 6524, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2007, 65240T (4 April 2007);

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