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Large strain actuation in polypyrrole actuators

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Proc. SPIE - Int. Soc. Opt. Eng. (USA), Volume 5385, Number 1, San Diego, CA, USA, p.380 - 7 (2004)



intelligent actuators;intelligent materials;lightweight structures;polymer electrolytes;strain measurement;


A typical limitation of polypyrrole based conducting polymer actuators is the low achievable active linear strains (2% recoverable at 10 MPa, 7% max) that these active materials exhibit when activated in a common propylene carbonate/tetraethylammonium hexafluorophosphate electrolyte. Mammalian skeletal muscle, on the other hand, exhibits large recoverable linear strains on the order of 20%. Such large linear strains are desirable for applications in life-like robotics, artificial prostheses or medical devices. We report herein the measurement of recoverable linear strains in excess of 14% at 2.5 MPa (20% max) for polypyrrole activated in the 1-butyl-3-methyl imidazolium tetrafluoroborate liquid salt electrolyte. This advancement in conducting polymer actuator technology impact many engineering fields, where a lightweight, large displacement actuator is needed. Benefits and trade offs of utilizing ionic liquid electrolytes for higher performance polypyrrole actuation are discussed


strain actuation;polypyrrole actuators;conducting polymer actuators;propylene carbonate;tetraethylammonium hexafluorophosphate electrolyte;mammalian skeletal muscle;life-like robotics;artificial prostheses;medical devices;1-butyl-3-methyl imidazolium tetrafluoroborate liquid salt electrolyte;displacement actuator;ionic liquid electrolytes;linear strain measurement;lightweight actuator;