Ion-implanted compliant electrodes for mm-size dielectric elastomer actuators
The miniaturization of dielectric elastomer actuators requires compliant electrodes that are clean, reliable, and that can be easily patterned on a mm or μm scale. Carbon-based electrodes, which are commonly used to make large-scale actuators, are not well suited for this application. Metal ion implantation at low energies has, on the other hand, the ability to create compliant and patternable electrode through the creation of nanometer scale clusters in the first tens of nanometers below the elastomer surface. We present the mechanical and electrical properties of metal (Au, Pd, Ti, Cu) implanted electrodes on polydimethylsiloxane, as well as the application of Au-implanted electrode to the fabrication of small-size (∅1.5−3 mm) diaphragm actuators that exhibit vertical displacements up to 25% of their diameter.