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Ionic Polymer–Metal Composites

 Ionic Polymer–Metal  Composites

Ionic Polymer–Metal  Composites


It is well known that modern robotics and numerous other applications need to have artificial muscles. Such applications also demand the need of soft actuators. Why is this so? The simple reason for this is that this is how the human bodyworks. Human body is probably one example of extreme engineering governed by the Mother Nature through a very complicated control that embraces biophysics, biomechanics, biochemistry, and selfctuation. While it is yet to be possible to exactly mimic it, the human endeavor in search of suitable materials continues to grow. So far, many materials have been tried upon.

These include, but are not necessarily limited to, liquid crystal elastomers and dielectric elastomers. These attempts also include bilayer hydrogels. Further attempts are also made using the bilayer nanomaterials. Furthermore, efforts are on to utilize highly oriented polymer fibers. The simple principle that governs their choices is that they can respond to various external stimuli. For instance, the stimulant could be heat. Similarly, it could also be the presence of light as well as the electric field. Even the presence of water can act as a stimulant. therefore, it is not surprising at all to note that a huge amount of research is globally directed toward the development of various soft actuators appropriate for a wide variety of applications.

Thus, the ionic polymer–metal composites ( IPMCs) are a class of new soft actuator materials being developed globally to address the issues related to soft actuation. These have a layered and/ or sandwich structure. In fact, it is generally true that in IPMCs, an ion exchange membrane is sandwiched between two appropriate electrodes. They are very promising new materials as they can provide decent magnitude of bending-induced actuation.

This can really happen even at a voltage as small as, e.g., 5 V. This process is believed to happen due to fast ion migration. This is what gives the IPMCs a unique advantage because their actuations can be precisely controlled by the application of an external electric field.

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