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15 April 2016 Encapsulation of ionic electroactive polymers: reducing the interaction with environment
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Ionic electro-active polymer (iEAP) actuators are composite materials that change their mechanical properties in response to external electrical stimulus. The interest in these devices is mainly driven by their capability to generate biomimetic movements, and their potential use in soft robotics. The driving voltage of an iEAP-actuator (0.5… 3 V) is at least an order of magnitude lower than that needed for other types of electroactive polymers. To apply iEAP-actuators in potential real-world applications, the capability of operating in different environments (open air, different solvents) must be available. In their natural form, the iEAP-actuators are capable of interacting with the surrounding environment (evaporation of solvent from the electrolyte solution, ion or solvent exchange, humidity effects), therefore, for prevention of unpredictable behavior of the actuator and the contamination of the environment, encapsulation of the actuator is needed. The environmental contamination aspect of the encapsulation material is substantial when selecting an applicable encapsulant. The suitable encapsulant should form thin films, be light in weight, elastic, fit tightly, low cost, and easily reproducible. The main goal of the present study is to identify and evaluate the best potential encapsulation techniques for iEAPactuators. Various techniques like thin film on liquid coating, dip coating, hot pressing, hot rolling; and several materials like polydimethylsiloxane, polyurethane, nitrocellulose, paraffin-composite-films were investigated. The advantages and disadvantages of the combinations of the above mentioned techniques and materials are discussed. Successfully encapsulated iEAP-actuators gained durability and were stably operable for long periods of time under ambient conditions. The encapsulation process also increased the stability of the iEAP-actuator by minimizing the environment effects. This makes controlling iEAP-actuators more straight-forward and reliable since there is no need to take the environmental factors like relative humidity and/or gas circulation into account.
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P. Jaakson, A. Aabloo, and T. Tamm "Encapsulation of ionic electroactive polymers: reducing the interaction with environment", Proc. SPIE 9798, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2016, 979825 (15 April 2016);

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