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Proceedings Paper

Some experimental results on ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMC) as biomimetic sensors and actuators
Author(s): Mohsen Shahinpoor; Yoseph Bar-Cohen; T. Xue; Joycelyn S. Harrison; Joseph G. Smith
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Paper Abstract

This paper discusses a number of recent findings in connection with ion-exchange polymer-noble metal composites (IPMC) as biomimetic sensors and actuators. These smart composites exhibit characteristics of both actuators and sensors. Strips of these composites can undergo large bending and flapping displacement if an electric field is imposed across their thickness. Thus, in this sense they are large motion actuators. Conversely by bending the composite strip, either quasi-statically or dynamically, a voltage is produced across the thickness of the strip between the two conducting electrodes attached. Thus, they are also large motion sensors. The output voltage can be calibrated for a standard size sensor and correlated to the applied loads or stresses. They can be manufactured and cut in any size and shape and in particular in the form of micro sensors and micro actuators for MEMS applications. In this paper first the sensing capability of these materials is reported. The preliminary results show the existence of a linear relationship between the output voltage and the imposed displacement for almost all cases. Furthermore, the ability of these ionic polymer-metal composites as large motion actuators and robotic manipulators is presented. Several muscle configurations are constructed to demonstrate the capabilities of these IPMC actuators. This paper further identifies key parameters involving the vibrational and resonance characteristics of sensors and actuators made with IPMC's. When the applied signal frequency is varied, so does the displacement up to a point where large deformations are observed at a critical frequency called resonant frequency where maximum deformation is observed. Beyond which the actuator response is diminished. A data acquisition system was used to measure the parameters involved and record the results in real time basis. Furthermore, reported in this paper are load characterization of such active polymer composites made with a noble metal such as platinum. The results showed that these actuators exhibit good force to weight characteristics in the presence of low applied voltages. Finally, reported are the cryogenic properties of these muscles for possible use by NASA in a harsh outer space environment of a few Torrs and temperatures of the order of -140 degrees Celsius. These muscles are shown to work quite well in such harsh cryogenics environment and thus present a great potential as sensors and actuators that can operate at cryogenic temperatures.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 July 1998
PDF: 17 pages
Proc. SPIE 3324, Smart Structures and Materials 1998: Smart Materials Technologies, (20 July 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.316870
Show Author Affiliations
Mohsen Shahinpoor, Univ. of New Mexico (United States)
Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
T. Xue, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Joycelyn S. Harrison, NASA Langley Research Ctr. (United States)
Joseph G. Smith, NASA Langley Research Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3324:
Smart Structures and Materials 1998: Smart Materials Technologies
Manfred R. Wuttig, Editor(s)

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