High strain electromechanical actuators based on electrodeposited polypyrrole doped with di-(2-ethylhexyl)sulfosuccinate
The low-voltage electromechanical actuation of polypyrrole (PPy) doped with di-(2-ethylhexyl)sulfosuccinate (DEHS) has been investigated. The PPy-DEHS has been prepared both chemically (cast as films from solution) and by more conventional electrochemical polymerization. Very large strains of ∼30% were obtained during slow-scan redox cycling of the electrochemically prepared PPy-DEHS films. In constrast, PPy-DEHS films cast from solutions of the chemically polymerized polymer gave actuation strains of ∼2.5%. The polymerization method was also found to have a significant effect on the structure, conductivity and mechanical properties of the PPy-DEHS materials. The conductivity of the electrochemically polymerized PPy-DEHS was 75 S cm−1, considerably higher than that found for the chemically derived polymer (7 S cm−1). The structure of the PPy-DEHS was further elucidated from UV–vis, Raman and FT-IR spectral studies which indicated that the conjugation length of the PPy could be increased significantly by varying the polymerization method. Films obtained by casting chemically prepared PPy-DEHS showed higher modulus (2.3 GPa) than electropolymerized PPy-DEHS (0.6 GPa), but were more brittle. Both materials were electroactive in acetonitrile/water electrolyte. The higher actuation strain observed in the electrochemically prepared films was attributed to a more open molecular structure (as indicated by the lower modulus) allowing for easier ion diffusion and a higher conductivity allowing easier charge transfer.