Metal Ion Implanted Compliant Electrodes in Dielectric Electroactive Polymer (EAP) Membranes
One of the key factors to obtain large displacements and high efficiency with dielectric electroactive polymer (DEAPs) actuators is to have compliant electrodes. Attempts to scale DEAPs down to the mm or micrometer range have encountered major difficulties, mostly due to the challenge of micropatterning sufficiently compliant electrodes. Simply evaporating or sputtering thin metallic films on elastomer membranes produces DEAPs whose stiffness is dominated by the metallic film. Low energy metal ion implantation for fabricating compliant electrodes in DEAPs presents several advantages: a) it is clean to work with, b) it does not add thick passive layers, and c) it can be easily patterned. We use this technology to fabricate DEAPs micro-actuators whose relative displacement is the same as for macro-scale DEAPs. With transmission electron microscope (TEM) we observed the formation of metallic clusters within the elastomer (PDMS) matrix, forming a nano-composite. We focus our studies on relating the properties of this nano-composite to the implantation parameters. We identified the optimal implantation parameters for which an implanted electrode presents an exceptional combination of high electrical conductivity and low compliance.