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Electro Active Polymers In Finite Deformation Characterization And Analysis

1667 words - 7 pages

This work deals with electroactive polymers (EAP), materials that can undergo large deformations when subjected to electric field. This property attracted in the last decade the academic and the industrial communities, who try to utilize these materials as actuators and sensors. Electroactive
materials are elastic, can undergo large deformations and possess
fast response time. However, their wide-spread use was hindered by their limitations: the need for large
electric field, small forces and low energy density. Recent experimental and analytical research showed great promise that these limitations can be overcome, for instance by the use of composites, where proper optimization of the material microstructure can yield big improvement to the mentioned limitations. In this work we intend to characterize the effective electromechanical properties of nonlinearly coupled materials capable of large deformations. The work includes an experimental study aimed at characterizing the electrical and mechanical properties of EAPs, and to measure their coupled response. Such characterization will broaden our understanding of these materials, allow to model them by analytical and numerical techniques, and eventually enable to improve their design.

This work is concerned with the coupled electromechanical response
of polymeric materials undergoing finite deformations. These \emph{Electroactive polymers} (EAP) can undergo large deformation in
response to electrical stimulation. These materials are gaining
interest since they can be used as actuators and sensors in a wide
variety of applications such as robotic manipulators, active
damping, aperture actuators and more. Among these many possible applications, the most promising and intriguing one is in the biomechanics field as a replacement for muscles, where the large deformations of these materials gained them the nickname \emph{artificial muscles}. Moreover, these actuators can be miniaturized and incorporated into MEMS and NEMS devices through the
use of soft lithography \citep{EAPHUB,BarCohen01}.

%Other types of EA materials, differences between them
A significant progress in the research and manufacturing of such materials has been made in the last decade. In comparison with other types of active materials, such as EAC (electroactive ceramics) and SMA (shape memory alloys), EAPs can undergo large strains, their response time is shorter, their density is lower and their resilience is greater. On the other hand, at the present, their development is hindered due to low actuation force and low mechanical energy density. In this work we wish to address some of these limitations and explore the electromechanical coupling in these materials, possibly through the use of composites.

%The types of EAPs, differences between them
There are three main classes of electroactive polymers: dielectric elastomers, ionic polymers and ferroelectric/liquid crystal elastomers. The first...

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