Publication Details

Bahrami Samani, M., Spinks, G. Maxwell. & Cook, C. David. (2004). Mechanical performance of PPy helix tube microactuator. In A. Wilson (Eds.), SPIE 5648, Smart Materials III (pp. 163-170). USA: SPIE.


Conducting polymer actuators with favourable properties such as linearity, high power density and compliance are of increasing demand in micro applications. These materials generate forces over two times larger than produced by mammalian skeletal muscles. They operate to convert electro chemical energy to mechanical stress and strain. On the other hand, the application of conducting polymers is limited by the lack of a full description of the relation between four essential parameters: stress, strain, voltage and current. In this paper, polypyrrole helix tube micro actuator mechanical characteristics are investigated. The electrolyte is propylene carbonate and the dopant is TBA. PF6. The experiments are both in isotonic and isometric conditions and the input parameters are both electrical and mechanical. A dual mode force and length control and potentiostat / galvanostat are utilized for this purpose. Ultimately, the viscoelastic behaviour of the actuator is presented in this paper by a standard stress relaxation test. The effect of electrical stimulus on mechanical parameters is also explored by cyclic voltametry at different scan rates to obtain the best understanding of the actuation mechanism. The results demonstrate that the linear viscoelastic model, which performed well on conducting polymer film actuators, has to be modified to explain the mechanical behaviour of PPy helix tube fibre micro actuators. Secondly, the changes in mechanical properties of PPy need to be considered when modelling electromechanical behaviour.

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