Fabrication of micro-scale DEAs could benefit many fields including micro-robots, micro-optical systems besides reducing the driving voltage from kV scale to possibly sub-100V range. In an earlier study, proof of concept fabrication methods for PDMS-based fiber-like micro-sized stacked dielectric elastomer actuators were introduced. This study tried to optimize the fabrication process by investigating the effect of different fabrication approaches and different design geometries on the performance of micro-sized DEAs. Micro-sized DEAs with different geometrical parameters were fabricated. Several fabrication steps were modified and the effectiveness of the new fabrication steps and parameters were investigated.
Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA) are one of the best candidate materials for next generation of robotic actuators, soft sensors and artificial muscles due to their fast response, mechanical robustness and compliance. However, high voltage requirements of DEAs have impeded their potential to become widely used in such applications. In this study, we propose a method for fabrication of silicon based multilayer DEA fibers composed of microlevel dielectric layers to improve the actuation ratios of DEAs at lower voltages. A multi-walled carbon nanotube - polydimethylsiloxane (MWCNT/PDMS) composite was used to fabricate mechanically compliant, conductive parallel plates and electrode connections for the DEA actuators. Active surface area and layer thickness were varied to study the effects of these parameters on actuation ratio as a function of applied voltage. Different structures were fabricated to assess the flexibility of the fabrication method for specific user-end applications.
Procedurally, excimer photorefractive keratectomy is based on the refractive correction of composite spherical and cylindrical ophthalmic errors of the entire eye. These refractive errors are inputted for correction at the corneal plane and for the properly controlled duration and location of laser energy. Topography is usually taken to correspondingly monitor spherical and cylindrical corneorefractive errors. While a corneal topographer provides surface morphologic information, the keratorefractive photoablation is based on the patient's spherical and cylindrical spectacle correction. Topography is at present not directly part of the procedural deterministic parameters. Examination of how corneal curvature at each of the keratometric reference loci affect the shape of the resultant corneal photoablated surface may enhance the accuracy of the desired correction. The objective of this study was to develop a methodology to utilize corneal topography for construction of models depicting pre- and post-operative keratomorphology for analysis of photorefractive keratectomy. Multiple types of models were developed then recreated in optical design software for examination of focal lengths and other optical characteristics. The corneal models were developed using data extracted from the TMS I corneal modeling system (Computed Anatomy, New York, NY). The TMS I does not allow for manipulation of data or differentiation of pre- and post-operative surfaces within its platform, thus models needed to be created for analysis. The data were imported into Matlab where 3D models, surface meshes, and contour plots were created. The data used to generate the models were pre- and post-operative curvatures, heights from the corneal apes, and x-y positions at 6400 locations on the corneal surface. Outlying non-contributory points were eliminated through statistical operations. Pre- and post- operative models were analyzed to obtain the resultant changes in the corneal surfaces during PRK. A sensitivity analysis of the corneal topography system was also performed. Ray tracings were performed using the height data and the optical design software Zemax (Focus Software, Inc., Tucson, AZ). Examining pre- and post-operative values of corneal surfaces may further the understanding of how areas of the cornea contribute toward desired visual correction. Gross resultant power across the corneal surface is used in PRK, however, understanding the contribution of each point to the average power may have important implications and prove to be significant for achieving projected surgical results.