Handling of soft and fragile sub-millimeter sized samples such as cells and tissues requires new tools that allow delicate manipulation. Conducting polymer actuators show unique characteristics suitable to driving such manipulators, however despite their potential, the current fabrication method of the trilayer structures does not allow constructing advanced micromanipulators operating in air using this technology. Here we show a novel bottom-up microfabrication process for conjugated polymer trilayer actuators using various solid polymer electrolytes. In addition, the process design integrates contact pads, which has been an issue for small scale conducting polymer actuators. The microfabrication process starts with a patterned layer of conjugated polymer, followed by depositing a polymer electrolyte and a second patterning of the second conjugated polymer layer. The process resulted in successful fabrication of individually controllable conducting polymer trilayer actuators comprising polyvinylidenefluoride and poly(vinylidenefluoride-co-hexafluoropropylene) membranes and showed good interfacial adhesion between the different layers in the final device. The polyvinylidenefluoride trilayer actuator showed good actuation capability. The developed bottom-up microfabrication method paves the way for the development of novel micromanipulation tools.
Khaldi, A., Maziz, A., Alici, G., Spinks, G. M. & Jager, E. W.H. (2016). Bottom-up microfabrication process for individually controlled conjugated polymer actuators. Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical: international journal devoted to research and development of physical and chemical transducers, 230 818-824.