Thickness dependence of curvature, strain, and response time in ionic electroactive polymer actuators fabricated via layer-by-layer assembly
Heflin, James R.
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Ionic electroactive polymer (IEAP) actuators containing porous conductive network composites (CNCs) and ionic liquids can result in high strain and fast response times. Incorporation of spherical gold nanoparticles in the CNC enhances conductivity and porosity, while maintaining relatively small thickness. This leads to improved mechanical strain and bending curvature of the actuators. We have employed the layer-by-layer self-assembly technique to fabricate a CNC with enhanced curvature (0.43 mm(-1)) and large net intrinsic strain (6.1%). The results demonstrate that curvature and net strain of IEAP actuators due to motion of the anions increase linearly with the thickness of the CNC as a result of the increased volume in which the anions can be stored. In addition, after subtracting the curvature of a bare Nafion actuator without a CNC, it is found that the net intrinsic strain of the CNC layer is independent of thickness for the range of 20-80 nm, indicating that the entire CNC volume contributes equivalently to the actuator motion. Furthermore, the response time of the actuator due to anion motion is independent of CNC thickness, suggesting that traversal through the Nafion membrane is the limiting factor in the anion motion. (C) 2011 American Institute of Physics. [doi:10.1063/1.3590166]