Publication Details

This article was originally published as Alici, G, Spinks, GM, Madden, JD, Wu, Y and Wallace GG, Response characterization of electroactive polymers as mechanical sensors, IEEE/ASME transactions on mechatronics, 13(2), 2008, 187-196. Copyright IEEE 2008. Original journal article available here


The characterization of the dynamic response (including transfer function identification) of trilayer polypyrrole (PPy) type conducting polymer sensors is presented. The sensor was built like a cantilever beam with the free end stimulated through a mechanical lever system, which provided displacement inputs. The voltage generated and current passing between the two outer PPy layers as a result of the input was measured to model the output/input behavior of the sensors based on their experimental current/displacement and voltage/displacement frequency responses. We specifically targeted the low-frequency behavior of the sensor as it is a relatively slowsystem. Experimental transfer function models were generated and verified experimentally for sensors with different dimensions. The models can be used to understand the dynamic behavior and sensing ability of the polymers as mechanical sensors. The effect of the active sensor length on the voltage and current outputs has demonstrated that the shorter is the sensor length, the higher are the voltage output and the current passed for the same mechanical input. Also, their current and voltage responses under an impulse displacement stimulus were experimentally measured to show their dynamic sensing response and to estimate the current and voltage sensing bandwidths. Further, an energy balance method has been proposed to estimate the sensor output. Based on the novel experimental and analytical results, the contribution of this study is the first comprehensive investigation into the response analysis and characterization of the PPy-type conducting polymers as mechanical sensors, to the best of authors’ knowledge.

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