A bio-inspired multi degree of freedom actuator based on a novel cylindrical ionic polymer–metal composite material

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In this work, we explore a promising electroactive polymer (EAP), called ionic polymer–metal composite (IPMC) as a material to use as a multi degree of freedom actuator. Configuration of our interest is a cylindrical IPMC with 2-DOF electromechanical actuation capability. The desired functionality was achieved by fabricating unique inter-digitated electrodes. First, a 3D finite element (FE) model was introduced as a design tool to validate if the concept of cylindrical actuators would work. The FE model is based upon the physical transport processes—field induced migration and diffusion of ions. Second, based upon the FE modeling we fabricated a prototype exhibiting desired electromechanical output. The prototype of cylindrical IPMC has a diameter of 1 mm and a 20 mm length. We have successfully demonstrated that the 2-DOF bending of the fabricated cylindrical IPMCs is feasible. Furthermore, the experimental results have given new insight into the physics that is behind the actuation phenomenon of IPMC.


Actuators; Biomimetics; Conducting polymers; FEM; Finite element method; Ionic polymer; IPMC; Metal-filled plastics


Materials Science and Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Robotics


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