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Ultrathin electrochemically driven conducting polymer actuators: fabrication and electrochemomechanical characterization

Abstract : Electronic conducting polymer based-actuators have attracted lots of interest as alternative materials to traditional piezoelectric and electrostatic actuators. Their specific characteristics such as their low operating voltages and large strains should allow them to adapt better to soft microstructures. Recently, poly (3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) – based ionic actuators have overcome some initial stumbling blocks to widespread applications in the microfabricated devices field. These trilayer bending microactuators were fabricated (i) by sequential stacking, using a layer by layer polymerization (LbL) of conducting polymer electrodes and a solid polymer electrolyte and (ii) by micro-patterning, using standard microsystems processes. While microfabrication processing of a trilayer actuator, involving no manual handling has been demonstrated, their bending performances remain limited for practical applications. Moreover, the complete characterization of their electrical, electrochemical, and mechanical properties has never been investigated. This paper describes the optimization of PEDOT electroactive electrodes synthesized with a vapor phase polymerization process. Influence of synthesis parameters on thickness, electronic conductivity and volumetric charge density were studied to determine the guidelines for synthesizing highly efficient electrodes. Afterwards, these parameters are used to guide the LbL synthesis process of ultrathin trilayer actuators. Electrochemical and mechanical properties of the resulting microactuators have been thoroughly characterized. Bending deformation and output force generation have been measured and reached 0.5% and 11 μN respectively. This constitutes the first characterization of ionic PEDOT-based microactuators operating in air of such a thin thickness (11 μm dry and 18.3 μm swelled in 1-Ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (EMImTFSI)). These actuators and their actuation properties are promising for future soft microsystem devices where the use of polymer actuators should be essential.
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Ngoc Tan Nguyen, Kätlin Rohtlaid, Cedric Plesse, Giao T.M. Nguyen, Caroline Soyer, et al.. Ultrathin electrochemically driven conducting polymer actuators: fabrication and electrochemomechanical characterization. Electrochimica Acta, Elsevier, 2018, 265, pp.670-680. ⟨10.1016/j.electacta.2018.02.003⟩. ⟨hal-02096123v2⟩



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