Actuation behaviour of layered composites of polyaniline, carbon nanotubes and polypyrrole
Layered composites of polyaniline (PAn), single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and polypyrrole (PPy) were produced by coating PAn or PAn/CNT on a PPy hollow fibre containing a platinum (Pt) helix. The actuation behaviour of PAn/PPy and PAn/CNT/PPy composites was compared with that of neat PPy. The Pt helix reduces the IR drop along the fibre, thus enhancing the actuation strain. Components of the composite with low actuation strain such as PAn and/or CNT restrict the actuation displacement of the PPy substrate causing a reduced strain in the composite. In particular, a minimal quantity of CNT (1.3 wt.%) in the composite leads to a discernible decrease in actuation strain but also increases the Young's modulus and tensile strength of the composite. Sodium nitrate (1 M) aqueous solution used as an electrolyte gives good actuation stability where the actuation strain is almost independent of applied stress (5–12 MPa). This can be explained by the unchanged Young's modulus at the reduced (contracted) and oxidized (expanded) states during the actuation process. The polyaniline/polypyrrole composite produced the highest work-per-cycle reported to date under isotonic conditions.