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9 April 2013 Measuring the bending of asymmetric planar EAP structures
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The geometric characterization of low-voltage dielectric electro-active polymer (EAP) structures, comprised of nanometer thickness but areas of square centimeters, for applications such as artificial sphincters requires methods with nanometer precision. Direct optical detection is usually restricted to sub-micrometer resolution because of the wavelength of the light applied. Therefore, we propose to take advantage of the cantilever bending system with optical readout revealing a sub-micrometer resolution at the deflection of the free end. It is demonstrated that this approach allows us to detect bending of rather conventional planar asymmetric, dielectric EAP-structures applying voltages well below 10 V. For this purpose, we built 100 μm-thin silicone films between 50 nm-thin silver layers on a 25 μm-thin polyetheretherketone (PEEK) substrate. The increase of the applied voltage in steps of 50 V until 1 kV resulted in a cantilever bending that exhibits only in restricted ranges the expected square dependence. The mean laser beam displacement on the detector corresponded to 6 nm per volt. The apparatus will therefore become a powerful mean to analyze and thereby improve low-voltage dielectric EAP-structures to realize nanometer-thin layers for stack actuators to be incorporated into artificial sphincter systems for treating severe urinary and fecal incontinence.
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Florian M. Weiss, Xue Zhao, Peter Thalmann, Hans Deyhle, Prabitha Urwyler, Gabor Kovacs, and Bert Müller "Measuring the bending of asymmetric planar EAP structures", Proc. SPIE 8687, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2013, 86871X (9 April 2013);

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