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Development of a Tube-Shaped Ionic Polymer-Metal Composite Actuator with Integrated Sensing
AuthorTsugawa, Marissa A.
AdvisorLeang, Kam K.
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This thesis describes the development of a circular tube-shaped ionic polymer-metal composite (IPMC) actuator with an integrated resistive strain displacement sensor. Rod- or tube-shaped IPMC actuators with the ability of multiple degrees-of-freedom motion can be used to create catheter devices and bio-inspired propulsion mechanisms for underwater autonomous systems. Current IPMC actuators are available in simple geometries, such as thin cantilever-shaped bending actuators, and they are often limited to single degree-of-freedom motion. An experimental tube-shaped IPMC actuator is fabricated from a millimeter-scale Nafion polymer tube. The outer surface of the polymer is plated with platinum metal using an electroless plating process. The platinum electrode is then sectored mechanically into four isolated electrodes using a custom surface milling technique. Application of voltage on the patterned electrodes causes the tube-shaped actuator to exhibit three-dimensional motion. To sense the bending motion, a strain sensor is developed and integrated onto the tube's outer surface. The integrated sensor is low cost, practical, and it avoids the need for bulky external sensors such as lasers for measuring deflection for feedback control. The performance of the tube-shaped IPMC actuator and sensor is characterized, where multiple degrees-of-freedom is demonstrated.