Publication Details

Alici, G. Higgins, M. J. (2008). Stiffness characterisation of microcantilevers based on conducting polymers. SPIE Smart Structures, Devices,and Systems (pp. 726806-1-726806-9). Bellingham, WA, USA: SPIE.


The object of this paper is to characterise the stiffness of microfabricated cantilevers consisting of two electroactive polymer (polypyrrole (PPy)) layers, and two gold layers with a negligible thickness and a layer of porous polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), which serves as a backing layer and electrolyte storage tank. This composite cantilever structure is used as polymer actuators or famously known as artificial muscles when tailored appropriately. The polymer microactuators considered in this study, which were fabricated using a laser ablation technique, could operate both in aqueous and non-aqueous media. The stiffness characterization of the microactuators is critical to assess their suitability to numerous applications including the micromanipulation of living cells, bio-analytical nanosystems, datastorage, labonchip, microvalve, microswitch, microshutter, cantilever light modulators, micro-optical instrumentation, artificial muscles for micro and macro robotic sytems and similar. The stiffness measurement method followed in this study is a static deflection measurement method, using an atomic force microscope (AFM). The stiffness constants of the microactuators while they were in passive (no electrochemical activation) and active (electrochemically activated) states were measured separately, and their statistical comparison was provided. The possible error sources for the stiffness measurement method are elaborated.

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