15 April 2016 A study of metalized electrode self-clearing in electroactive polymer (EAP) based actuators
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Abstract
Electroactive polymer (EAP) based technologies have shown promise in areas such as artificial muscles, actuator, aerospace, medical and soft robotics. Still challenges remain such as low induced forces and defects-driven electrical breakdown, which impede the practical implementation of this technology. Multilayered or stacked configuration can address the low induced force issue whereas self-clearing can be a technique to improve breakdown limit of EAP based actuators. Self-clearing refers to the partial local breakdown of dielectric medium due to the presence of impurities, which in turn results in the evaporation of some of the metalized electrode. After this evaporation, the impurity is cleared and any current path would be safely cut off, which means the actuator continues to perform. It is a widely studied concept in the capacitor community, while it has not been studied much for EAP technologies. In this paper we report a systematic approach to precondition a silver-metalized electroactive polymer (EAP), more specifically P(VDF-TrFE-CTFE) terpolymer, using self-clearing concept. First, we show improvement in the dielectric breakdown strength of EAP based unimorph actuators after pre-clearing the impurities using low electric field (lower than dielectric breakdown of the terpolymer). Inspired by this improvement, we used Weibull statistics to systematically estimate the self-clearing/ preconditioning field needed to clear the defects. Then electrical breakdown experiments are conducted with and without preconditioning the samples to investigate its effect on the breakdown strength of the sample.
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Saad Ahmed, Zoubeida Ounaies, "A study of metalized electrode self-clearing in electroactive polymer (EAP) based actuators", Proc. SPIE 9798, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2016, 97983F (15 April 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2222135; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2222135
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