Actuation and Charge Transport Modeling of Ionic Liquid-Ionic Polymer Transducers
Davidson, Jacob Daniel
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Ionic polymer transducers (IPTs) are soft sensors and actuators which operate through a coupling of micro-scale chemical, electrical, and mechanical mechanisms. The use of ionic liquid as solvent for an IPT has been shown to dramatically increase transducer lifetime in free-air use, while also allowing for higher applied voltages without electrolysis. This work aims to further the understanding of the dominant mechanisms of IPT actuation and how these are affected when an ionic liquid is used as solvent. A micromechanical model of IPT actuation is developed following a previous approach given by Nemat-Nasser, and the dominant relationships in actuation are demonstrated through an analysis of electrostatic cluster interactions. The elastic modulus of Nafion as a function of ionic liquid uptake is measured using uniaxial tension tests and modeled in a micromechanical framework, showing an excellent fit to the data. Charge transport is modeled by considering both the cation and anion of the ionic liquid as mobile charge carriers, a phenomenon which is unique to ionic liquid IPTs as compared to their water-based counterparts. Numerical simulations are performed using the finite element method, and a modified theory of ion transport is discussed which can be extended to accurately describe electrochemical migration of ionic liquid ions at higher applied voltages. The results presented here demonstrate the dominant mechanisms of IPT actuation and identify those unique to ionic liquid IPTs, giving directions for future research and transducer development.
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