An integrated electroactive polymer sensor-actuator: design, model-based control, and performance characterization
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Hunt, A.; Chen, Zheng; Tan, X.; Kruusmaa, M. 2016. An integrated electroactive polymer sensor-actuator: design, model-based control, and performance characterization. Smart Materials and Structures, vol. 25:no. 3
Ionic electroactive polymers (IEAPs), particularly ionic polymer-metal composites (IPMCs) and carbon-polymer composites (CPCs), bend when a voltage is applied on their electrodes, and conversely, they generate an electrical signal when subjected to a mechanical bending. In this work we study and compare the capabilities of IPMC and CPC actuators and sensors in closed-loop control applications. We propose and realize an integrated IEAP sensor-actuator design, characterize its performance using three different materials, and compare the results. The design consists of two short IEAP actuators and one sensor mechanically coupled together in a parallel configuration, and an attached rigid extension significantly longer than the IEAPs. This allows the device to be compliant, simple to construct, lightweight, easy to miniaturize, and functionally similar to a one-degree-of-freedom rotational joint. For control design and accurate position sensing in feedback experiments, we adapt physics-based and control-oriented models of actuation and sensing dynamics, and perform experiments to identify their parameters. In performance characterization, both model-based H-infinity control and proprrtional-integral control are explored. System responses to step inputs, sinusoids, and random references are measured, and long-duration sinusoidal tracking experiments are performed. The results show that, while IEAP position sensing is stable for only a limited time-span, H-infinity control significantly improves the performance of the device.
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