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Proceedings Paper

Solvent-drag bending motion of polymer gel induced by an electric field
Author(s): Toshihiro Hirai; Jianming Zheng; Masashi Watanabe
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Paper Abstract

Non-ionic polymer gel was found to bend and scrawl much faster than conventional polymer gels by applying d.c. electric field. The motion looks like to be an action of a biological muscle in a sense. The dimensions of the gel were 2 mm in thickness, and 7 X 5 mm2 in area. Both surface of the gel sheet was coated with thin gold film whose thickness is 0.1 (mu) . Bending angle reaches 180 degrees within 90 ms when electric field of 500 V/mm was applied. The current was around 0.03 mA under the field, suggesting that the heat generated in the motion be negligible. The gel was composed of chemically crosslinked poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) swollen with dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). Solvent loss from the gel in the action was negligible. DMSO orientation by an electric field was investigated by Raman spectroscopy. DMSO was found to flow or to generate a pressure gap under an electric field over 60 V/mm. It turned out that the orientation of DMSO does not directly induce the motion of a gel, but the electrically induced DMSO flow plays a critical role in the actuation. The electrically induced solvent flow implied that the solvent was enforced to flow from an anode side to a cathode side. The results are consistent to the observation of the bending or scrawling motion in which the cathode side is expanded much more than the anode side. As a conclusion, the concept of the 'electrically-induced solvent-drag' gel actuator provides the most promising way to a high power artificial muscle, a soft actuator, at this moment.

Paper Details

Date Published: 28 May 1999
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 3669, Smart Structures and Materials 1999: Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices, (28 May 1999);
Show Author Affiliations
Toshihiro Hirai, Shinshu Univ. (Japan)
Jianming Zheng, Shinshu Univ. (Japan)
Masashi Watanabe, Shinshu Univ. (Japan)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3669:
Smart Structures and Materials 1999: Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices
Yoseph Bar-Cohen, Editor(s)

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