[2023-Vol.20-Issue 6]High Performance Soft Electrochemical Actuators Based on Hierarchical Conductive Polymer Ionogels
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Journal of Bionic Engineering (2023) 20:2755–2763

High Performance Soft Electrochemical Actuators Based on Hierarchical Conductive Polymer Ionogels Hongwei Hu1,2  · Shengtao Zhang2  · Yan Li3  · Xinghao Hu2  · Lin Xu2  · Aixin Feng1,6 · Guanggui Cheng2  · Jianning Ding4,5

Aixin Feng * Guanggui Cheng * Jianning Ding 

1 Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Laser Processing Robotics, College of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Wenzhou University, Wenzhou 325035, China 

2 Institute of Intelligent Flexible Mechatronics, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang 212013, China 

3 School of Mechanical Engineering, Jiangsu University of Science and Technology, Zhenjiang 212100, China 

4 School of Mechanical Engineering, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225127, China 

5 Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center of Photovoltaic Science and Engineering, Changzhou University, Changzhou 213164, China 

6 Ruian Graduate School of Wenzhou University, Ruian 325207, Zhejiang, China

Abstract: Electrochemical actuators based on conductive polymers are emerging as a strong competitive in the feld of soft actuators because of their intrinsically conformable/elastic nature, low cost, low operating voltage and air-working ability. Recent development has shown that adding electroactive materials, such as CNT and graphene, can improve their actuation performance. Despite the complex material systems used, their output strains (one of the key factors) are generally lower than 1%, which limited further applications of them in multiple scenarios. Here, we report soft electrochemical actuators based on conductive polymer ionogels by embedding polyaniline particles between the PEDOT:PSS nanosheets. Results show that such a hierarchical structure not only leads to a high conductivity (1250 S/cm) but also improved electrochemical activities. At a low operating voltage of 1 V, the maximum strain of these soft actuators reaches an exceptional value of 1.5%, with a high blocking force of 1.3 mN. Using these high-performance electrochemical actuators, we demonstrate soft grippers for manipulating object and a bionic fower stimulated by an electrical signal. This work sets an important step towards enabling the enhanced performance of electrochemical actuators based on conductive polymers with designed microstructures. 

Keywords: Conductive polymer · Soft actuator · Polyaniline · PEDOT:PSS · Bioinspired actuator


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