Due to their high deformability, lightness, and safe interaction with the surrounding environment, flexible actuators are key ingredients in soft robotics technologies. Among these, electro-thermal actuators (ETAs), based on carbon nanotubes (CNTs), are used to generate agile movements when current is applied. The extent of movement is determined mostly by the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) of the materials arranged in a bi-/tri-layer structure. However, current CNT-based ETAs usually accomplish only simple actions with limited movements. In this work, we successfully developed novel ETAs that are capable of carrying out various controllable movements, such as extremely high bending curvature or unique actuations mimicking a wheel and a worm. These superior functionalities are achieved by adding a third layer or hinges composed of a thermo-responsive shape memory polymer (SMP) onto a bi-layer CNT-kapton ETA. To predict the unique movements of the "triangle" and "worm" actuators, finite element simulations were performed. The combination of SMP and electro-thermal behavior demonstrates its potential for applications in the field of soft actuators and robotics.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was partially supported by the Singapore National Research Foundation under the CREATE program: Nanomaterials for Energy and Water-Energy Nexus, by the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMOD), and by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space of Israel.
© Copyright 2020, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
- electro-thermal actuators
- shape memory polymers
- soft actuators
- soft robotics