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8 March 2014 The viscoelastic effect in bending bucky-gel actuators
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Electromechanically active polymers (EAP) are considered a good actuator candidate for a variety of reasons, e.g. they are soft, easy to miniaturize and operate without audible noise. The main structural component in EAPs is, as the name states, a type of deformable polymer. As polymers are known to exhibit a distinct mechanical response, the nature of polymer materials should never be neglected when characterizing and modeling the performance of EAP actuators. Bucky-gel actuators are a subtype of EAPs where ion-containing polymer membrane acts as an electronically insulating separator between two electrodes of carbon nanotubes and ionic liquid. In many occasions, the electrodes also contain polymer for the purpose of binding it together. Therefore, mechanically speaking, bucky-gel actuators are composite structures with layers of different mechanical nature. The viscoelastic response and the shape change property are perhaps the most characteristic effects in polymers. These effects are known to have high dependence on factors such as the type of polymer, the concentration of additives and the structural ratio of different layers. At the same time, most reports about optimization of EAP actuators describe the alteration of electromechanical performance dependent on the same factors. In this paper, the performance of bucky-gel actuators is measured as a function between the output force and bending deflection. It is observed that effective stiffness of these actuators depends on the input voltage. This finding is also supported by dynamic mechanical analysis which demonstrates that the viscoelastic response of bucky-gel laminate depends on both frequency and temperature. Moreover, the dynamic mechanical analysis reveals that in the range of standard operation temperatures, tested samples were in their glass transition region, which made it possible to alter their shape by using mechanical fixing. The mechanical fixity above 90% was obtained when high-frequency input signal was used to heat the bucky-gel sample.
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Karl Kruusamäe, Ken Mukai, Takushi Sugino, and Kinji Asaka "The viscoelastic effect in bending bucky-gel actuators", Proc. SPIE 9056, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2014, 90560G (8 March 2014);

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