The conventional electrostatic actuators are operated at very high voltage relative slow response which prevents them from useful applications in providing mobility for making microrobots. There has been a lot of study on making electrostatic actuators based on polymers such as acrylic elastomers, HS3 silicone and silicon NuSil. All these materials need over one thousands volts to operate. We are going to make low operation voltage and fast response actuators using nanowire polymer composites. We are going to deposit polymer thin films on vertically aligned nanotube (nanowire) forest grown on a Si substrate. Peeling off the polymer films results in nanotube (nanowire)-polymer composites with all the nanowires and nanotubes fully incorporated into the polymer matrix. By using this method we are going to explore several material systems such as CNT/silicone rubber, CNT/PVDF etc. The motivation for making nano material-polymer composites based actuators is that nano structured materials have potential advantage to enhance the local electric field and therefore lower the operation voltage for the actuators. Meanwhile, the mechanical property of the composite can be greatly improved for high force actuation.
Project end date: 02/03/14