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Ionic Polymer-Metal Composites (IPMCs) as Biomimetic Sensors, Actuators and Artificial Muscles: A ReviewThis paper presents an introduction to ionic polymer-metal composites and some mathematical modeling pertaining to them. It further discusses a number of recent findings in connection with ion-exchange polymer-metal composites (IPMCS) as biomimetic sensors and actuators. Strips of these composites can undergo large bending and flapping displacement if an electric field is imposed across their thickness. Thus, in this sense they are large motion actuators. Conversely by bending the composite strip, either quasi-statically or dynamically, a voltage is produced across the thickness of the strip. Thus, they are also large motion sensors. The output voltage can be calibrated for a standard size sensor and correlated to the applied loads or stresses. They can be manufactured and cut in any size and shape. In this paper first the sensing capability of these materials is reported. The preliminary results show the existence of a linear relationship between the output voltage and the imposed displacement for almost all cases. Furthermore, the ability of these IPMCs as large motion actuators and robotic manipulators is presented. Several muscle configurations are constructed to demonstrate the capabilities of these IPMC actuators. This paper further identifies key parameters involving the vibrational and resonance characteristics of sensors and actuators made with IPMCS. When the applied signal frequency varies, so does the displacement up to a critical frequency called the resonant frequency where maximum deformation is observed, beyond which the actuator response is diminished. A data acquisition system was used to measure the parameters involved and record the results in real time basis. Also the load characterizations of the IPMCs were measured and it was shown that these actuators exhibit good force to weight characteristics in the presence of low applied voltages. Finally reported are the cryogenic properties of these muscles for potential utilization in an outer space environment of a few Torrs and temperatures of the order of - 140 degrees Celsius. These muscles are shown to work quite well in such harsh cryogenic environments and thus present a great potential as sensors and actuators that can operate at cryogenic temperatures.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Shahinpoor, M. (New Mexico Univ. Albuquerque, NM United States)
Bar-Cohen, Y. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA United States)
Simpson, J. O. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA United States)
Smith, J. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1998
Publication Information
Publication: Smart Materials and Structures
Volume: 7
ISSN: 0964-1726
Subject Category
Composite Materials
Distribution Limits