27 March 2012 Soft and wet actuator developed with responsible high-strength gels
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Novel high-strength gels, named double network gels (DN gels), show a smart response to altering external electric field. It was reported that a plate shape of the DN gel bends toward a positive electrode direction when a static (DC) electric field is applied. Based on this previous result, it has been tried to develop a novel soft and wet actuator, which will be used as an automatically bulging button for cellar phones, or similar small devices. First, a bending experiment of a hung plate-shape DN gel was done, and its electric field response was confirmed. Second, the response of a lying plate-shape DN gels was confirmed in order to check the bulging phenomena. The edge of three plate-shape gels that was arranged radially on a plane surface was lifted 2mm by applying DC 8V. This system is a first step to make a gels button. However the critical problem is that electrolysis occurs simultaneously under electric field. Then, the water sweep out from gels, and gels is shrinking; They cause the separation between aluminum foil working as electrode and gels. That is why, a flexible electrode should be made by gels completely attached to the gels. As a third step, a push button is tried to make by a shape memory gels (SMG). The Young's modulus of the SMG is dramatically changed by temperature. This change in the modulus is applied to control the input-acceptable state and input-not-acceptable states of the button. A novel push button is proposed as a trial, and its user-friendliness is checked by changing the size of the button. The button is deformed by pushing and is back to original shape due to the property of shape memory. We believe the mechanism of this button will be applied to develop new devices especially for visually impaired persons.
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S. Harada, S. Harada, R. Hidema, R. Hidema, H Furukawa, H Furukawa, "Soft and wet actuator developed with responsible high-strength gels", Proc. SPIE 8341, Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems 2012, 83412C (27 March 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.915091; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.915091

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