Synthesis and performance evaluation of thin film PPy-PVDF multilayer electroactive polymer actuators
Bending-type microactuators less than 1 mm in length and comprising of two polypyrrole (PPy) layers separated by polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) membrane have previously been fabricated and was shown to operate both in air and aqueous media. The main limiting factor to increase the bending angle and to further miniaturise these actuators was the thickness of the commercially-available PVDF membrane used (110 μm). In this study, we have synthesised a porous PVDF thin film with a thickness of 32 μm using a spin coating technique, and electrochemically deposited PPy layers on both sides of this thin film to make ultra thin film polymer actuators. The electromechanical and electrochemical properties are investigated and compared with those of the thicker actuator system using the commercially-available PVDF and under identical conditions. The thin film shows very promising performance compared to its thicker counterpart.