Thin film conductive polymer for microactuator and micromuscle applications Page: 4 of 13
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Paper for 1994 ASME Winter Annual Meeting
THIN FILM CONDUCTIVE POLYMER FOR MICROACTUATOR AND
AP Lee, K. Hong, J. Trevino, and MA Northrup
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
P.O. Box 808, L-222
Livermore, CA 94551
phone: (510) 423-4524
FAX: (510) 422-2783
Conductive polymer/polyimide bimorphic microcantilevers have been actuated vertically
(out-of-plane) upon the volumetric changes induced by electrochemical doping of the polymer.
The microcantilevers that are 200-500 pm in length and 50-100 m in width can be fully extended
from a circularly-curled geometry, and thus generate more than 100 m displacement. Dynami-
cally the microcantilevers have been driven as fast as 1.2 Hz and the polymer was stable for over
a week stored in air and light. Residual stresses in the polymer film is estimated to be as high as
254 MPa, and actuation stresses are as high as 50 MPa.
The work of J.W.Gibbs in the nineteenth century showed that chemical energy can be con-
verted into mechanical energy. But it was not until the 1960s that mechano-chemical engines have
been of interest to researchers (Wasserman, 1960, Katchalsky and Oplatka, 1971). In fact, the main
method of energy conversion practiced by all living creatures is an isothermal and direct conver-
sion of metabolic energy into mechanical motility, which functions by quick movements of ions in
and out of muscle fibers. Probably through this inspiration, recently there has been a strong interest
in the field of building artificial muscles (Bobbio et al, 1993, Yamaguchi et al, 1993, Hunter and
Lafontaine,1992, Niino et al, 1994, Eckerle et al, 1994, De Rossi et al., 1994). A whole new series
of actuation mechnisms can be built by learning from biological systems.
Conductive polymers are plastic materials which can be rendered electrically conductive
when oxidized or reduced by suitable reagents. For the past 17 years, the unique electrical, optical,
chemical properties of conductive polymers have attracted substantial research and development
attention (Salaneck et al., 1993, Reynolds et al., 1989). Not only do some conductive polymers
have electroluminescence properties, but the electrical conductivity can approach that of copper
and the mechanical properties are comparable to steel (Heeger 1993). Applications of conductive
polymers have been developed into LED flat panel displays, batteries, chemical and biochemical
sensors, corrosion-resistant materials, etc. Many more applications of conductive polymers, poly-
mer gels, and their combinations are possible as material and process improvements are made.
The recent discovery of conductive polymers provide the most similar actuation to the mus-
cle contractions. A review was reported on the mechanical actuation potential of conductive poly-
mers upon electrochemical doping of donors or acceptors, along with many design ideas in
applying this type of material for microactuators (Baughman et al. 1991). Yoshini (1993) reported
a macro bimorph cantilever that was actuated by solvent composition changes and electrochemical
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Lee et al.
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Lee, A.P.; Hong, K.; Trevino, J. & Northrup, M.A. Thin film conductive polymer for microactuator and micromuscle applications, article, April 14, 1994; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc709326/m1/4/: accessed October 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.