As one typical kind of ionic electroactive polymers (iEAPs), ionic polymer metal composites (IPMC) consist of an ionomer and two thin layers of metallic electrode on its both sides. The micro-properties of the ionomer, usually Nafion as the most used ionomer, exert strongly effects on the responses of IPMC actuator. Our works revealed the effects of casting process with different additives (ethylene glycol (EG), dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), N, N′-dimethyl formamide (DMF) and N-methyl formamide (NMF)), and blending with sulfonated multi-walled carbon nanotube (sMWCNT) on properties of ionomer and the electromechanical responses of IPMC actuators. Some important properties of casting membrane and sMWCNT/Nafion blending membrane, such as surface morphology, water uptake and ionic exchange capacity, etc., were measured and evaluated. Among the casting membrane-based IPMC actuators, EG based IPMC actuator has larger deformation at 2 V DC voltage. And a trace amount of sMWCNT can improve the performances of IPMCs significantly for realistic applications.
Part of the book: Polymerization
Ionic-polymer based actuators have the advantages of low voltage and power requirements, being easily processable, flexibility, soft action and bio-mimetic activation, which are of considerable interests for applications in biomedical micro-devices and soft robotics. In this chapter, we firstly review the development of ionic polymer actuator and reveal the universal architecture and mechanism of ionic polymer actuators. We then introduce two kinds of typical polymer actuators: ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMC) and bucky gel actuator (BGA), including their basic principle, fabrication process and typical applications. The aim of this chapter is to give some perspectives on IPMC and BGA and provide a way and case in using this actuator for real applications.
Part of the book: Actuators