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Fast contracting polypyrrole actuators

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Synth. Met. (Switzerland), Volume 113, Number 1-2, p.185 - 92 (2000)



conducting polymers;electrolytes;microactuators;polymer structure;


Conducting polymer-based actuators are capable of producing at least 10 times more force for a given cross-sectional area (active stress) than skeletal muscle, and potentially 1000 times more, with strains typically between 1% and 10%. Low operating voltages make them particularly attractive for use in micro-electromechanical systems, in place of electrostatic and piezoelectric actuators. A drawback of conducting polymer actuators is their relatively slow speed, and hence low power-to-mass ratio. In this paper, shaped voltage pulses are applied to generate strain rates of up to 3% s-1, with peak power to mass ratios of 39 Wkg-1 of polymer, nearly matching mammalian skeletal muscle. Results are obtained from polypyrrole linear and bilayer actuators and employ both liquid and gel electrolytes


polypyrrole;conducting polymer;fast contracting actuators;operating voltages;microelectromechanical system;power-to-mass ratio;strain rates;electrolytes;