Artificial muscles of dielectric elastomers attached to artificial tendons of functionalized carbon fibers
Faisal, Md. Shahnewaz Sabit
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Zhihang Ye ; Md. Shahnewaz Sabit Faisal ; Ramazan Asmatulu ; Zheng Chen; Artificial muscles of dielectric elastomers attached to artificial tendons of functionalized carbon fibers . Proc. SPIE 9056, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2014, 905616 (March 26, 2014)
Dielectric elastomers are soft actuation materials with promising applications in robotics and biomedical devices. In this paper, a bio-inspired artificial muscle actuator with artificial tendons is developed for robotic arm applications. The actuator uses dielectric elastomer as artificial muscle and functionalized carbon fibers as artificial tendons. A VHB 4910 tape is used as the dielectric elastomer and PDMS is used as the bonding material to mechanically connect the carbon fibers to the elastomer. Carbon fibers are highly popular for their high electrical conductivities, mechanical strengths, and bio-compatibilities. After the acid treatments for the functionalization of carbon fibers (500 nm - 10 pm), one end of carbon fibers is spread into the PDMS material, which provides enough bonding strength with other dielectric elastomers, while the other end is connected to a DC power supply. To characterize the actuation capability of the dielectric elastomer and electrical conductivity of carbon fibers, a diaphragm actuator is fabricated, where the carbon fibers are connected to the actuator. To test the mechanical bonding between PDMS and carbon fibers, specimens of PDMS bonded with carbon fibers are fabricated. Experiments have been conducted to verify the actuation capability of the dielectric elastomer and mechanical bonding of PDMS with carbon fibers. The energy efficiency of the dielectric elastomer increases as the load increases, which can reach above 50%. The mechanical bonding is strong enough for robotic arm applications.
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