Publication Details

Minato, R., Alici, G., McGovern, S. T. Spinks, G. Maxwell. (2007). Tri-layer polymer actuators with variable dimensions. Smart Structures and Materials and Non-destructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring. Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) (pp. 65241J-1-65241J-14). England: SPIE-INTL Society for Optical Engineering (WA).


The ability of conducting polymer actuators to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy is influenced by manyfactors ranging from the actuators physical dimensions to the chemical structure of the conducting polymer. In order toutilise these actuators to their full potential, it is necessary to explore and quantify the effect of such factors on theoverall actuator performance. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of various geometrical characteristics suchas the actuator width and thickness on the performance of tri-layer polypyrrole (PPy) actuators operating in air, asopposed to their predecessors operating in an appropriate electrolyte. For a constant actuator length, the influence of theactuator width is examined for a uniform thickness geometry. Following this study, the influence of a varied thicknessgeometry is examined for the optimised actuator width. The performance of the actuators is quantified by examination ofthe force output, tip displacement, efficiency as a function of electrical power and mechanical power, and time constantfor each actuator geometry. It was found that a width of 4mm gave the greatest overall performance without curlingalong the actuator length (which occurred with widths above 4mm). This curling phenomenon increased the rigidity ofthe actuator, significantly lowering the displacement for low loads. Furthermore, it was discovered that by focussing ahigher thickness of PPy material in certain regions of the actuators length, greater performances in various domainscould be achieved. The experimental results obtained set the foundation for us to synthesize PPy actuators with anoptimised geometry, allowing their performance to reach full potential for many cutting applications.

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