27 March 2018 Synthetic Muscle electroactive polymer (EAP) based actuation and sensing for prosthetic and robotic applications
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Abstract
Ras Labs Synthetic MuscleTM – a class of electroactive polymers (EAPs) that contract and expand at low voltages – mimic the unique gentle-yet-strong nature of human tissue. These EAPs also attenuate force and sense mechanical pressure, from gentle touch to high impact. This is a potential asset to prosthetics and robotics, including manned space travel through protective gear and human assist robotics and for unmanned space exploration through deep space. Fifth generation Synthetic MuscleTM is very robust and attenuates impact force through non-Newtonian mechanisms. Various electrolyte solutions and conductive additives were also explored to optimize these EAPs. In prosthetics, the interface between the residual limb and the hard socket of the prosthetic device is a pain point. EAP pads that gently contract and expand within the prosthetic socket using 1.5 V batteries will allow for extremely comfortable, adjustable, perfect fit throughout the day for amputees. For robot grippers, EAP linkages can be actuated and EAP sensors placed at the fingertips of the grippers for tactile feedback. Onset of actuation of these EAPs at the nano-level was determined to be within 48 milliseconds, with macro-scale actuation visible to the naked eye within seconds. Smart EAP based materials and actuators promise to transform prostheses and robots, allowing for the treatment, reduction, and prevention of debilitating injury and fatalities, and to further our exploration by land, sea, air, and space.
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Lenore Rasmussen, Simone Rodriguez, Matthew Bowers, Gabrielle Franzini, Charles A. Gentile, George Ascione, Robert Hitchner, James Taylor, Dan Hoffman, Leon Moy, Patrick S. Mark, Daniel L. Prillaman, Robert Nodarse, Michael J. Menegus, Ryan Carpenter, Darold Martin, Matthew Maltese, Thomas Seacrist, Cosme Furlong, Payam Razavi, Greig Martino, "Synthetic Muscle electroactive polymer (EAP) based actuation and sensing for prosthetic and robotic applications", Proc. SPIE 10594, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) XX, 105942C (27 March 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2297660; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2297660
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